If you’re a mum, and anything like me, the start of the school year is a double-edged sword.
On one hand, you’re excited to have the kids out of the house for the greater part of the day (definitely to watch their little minds and skills expand, and nothing at all to do with the peace and quiet..) but also apprehensive about having to plan and prepare nutritious food each day that won’t get left in the lunchbox. Well I’m here to help! Here a few kid-approved tips and some no-fail lunchbox combos (tested on my own family) to make the back-to-school transition a bit more bearable.
Involve your child
The best way to make sure your child eats their food is to make sure the food in their lunchbox is something they actually want to eat (within reason). Give your child the choice of their sandwich fillings, or ask them would they prefer a sandwich or leftovers. Kids like feeling in control, and are more likely to eat their food if they choose it. Just don’t overwhelm them - pick maximum 3 options and ask them to select their favourite.
Having a stash of nutritious snack and filling options in your fridge takes a lot of stress out the morning rush. Spend some time one the weekend baking some healthy muffins or muesli bars – rounding back to the first tip: get your kids to help prepare food and studies say they’re more likely to eat it – or a big batch of frittata or zucchini slice so that you have a few lunches ready to go. Likewise, making extra serves of dinner to set aside for lunches is a great time-saver. You can even make a large fruit salad, store it in the fridge in an air-tight container and serve on its own or with yoghurt for a few mornings.
Fresh is best
Dependent on their age, children should be getting at least 2 serves of fruit and 4-5 serves of vegetables each day; most schools these days even have an allocated snack break in the morning dedicated to a small serve of fruit or vegetable. Fresh fruit makes an excellent portable, nutrient-dense snack option, as does a small container of veggie sticks to go with dip or cheese. Steer clear of pre-prepared fruit snacks from the supermarket, as they have lots of unnecessary additives and usually less nutrients than fresh produce.
Plan it out
The best way to avoid the “what the heck am I going to give the kids?!” dilemma is to plan out their lunchbox the night before. You don’t have to pack it, although you certainly can, but just knowing what is available and having it mentally planned out can significantly reduce your stress levels.
Don’t forget fluids
An insulated drink bottle will help to keep food cold, and keeping the drink cold is something that definitely encourages my daughter to drink her water. Talk to your child about the importance of drinking enough water to help their body working properly, meaning they’ll find it easier to blitz through their school work and have energy to play. Skip the flavoured drinks such as milks and juices – they’re packed with refined sugar and not much else, meaning their blood sugar levels will be all over the place, which can have a huge negative impact on their learning capacity. The only fluid your child needs is water.
Nutritionist-approved lunchbox ideas:
What are some of your (or your kids) favourite lunchbox items? We'd love to know!
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