8 tips on how to pack a healthy lunchbox for back to school
Nailing that winning formula of tasty treats you know they’ll devour, the good stuff they need and enough to fill them up is tough, especially when you need to magically pull it all together while making brekkies, plaiting hair and reading teacher’s notes that have been smooshed in the bottom of school bags.Read on below for 8 simple tips for lunchboxes that are filled with goodness and big on YUM!
Healthy Harold and his friends at Life Ed are on the lookout for Australia's Healthier Lunchboxes. Are you up to the challenge? It's easy to enter - simply upload a photo of your child’s yummy, healthy lunchbox for an opportunity to WIN a $600 Woolworths e-Gift card. And this year your child’s school can participate too. Visit lifeed.org.au to enter.
1. Embrace the bentoThe bento box has a lot more going for it than looking great. It can actually be your secret weapon to increasing the variety of foods your kids are eating, by popping something different in each section.
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Five compartments are perfect for ticking the five food groups and the kids won’t even realise. For them it’s all about the fun and choosing what section to eat first. It’s particularly good for little fuss-pots that don’t like their foods touching.
For a balanced bento why not try:
- Wholegrain sandwich – grains
- Grapes, berries or mandarin segments – fruit
- Cheese cubes or yoghurt – dairy
- Hummus dip, mini lentil patties and veggie sticks – veggies and protein
- Bliss ball or mini fruit and grain muffin – wholesome treat
2. Fill them up with fibreA good old sandwich or wholegrain roll should never be underrated. Packed with fibre, it is a great way to help fill kids up at lunch and keep them going through afternoon classes. Some Aussie kids fall short on getting the right amount of grain foods, which may impact their fibre intake. Extra fibre will help to keep them regular and help maintain their gut health. Any chance to eat more wholegrains is a bonus!
3. Cut the choppingA recent Australian study showed kids are likely to eat more veggies, when they are given to them whole. For the lunchbox think mini cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, or whole carrots. Less work and they’ll eat more veggies – we love this! However, for young children who many not be able to manage whole veggies, halved cherry tomatoes and spiralised cucumber and carrots can still be a good option, that are easier for them to chew and swallow.
4. Be water wiseEvery lunchbox needs some liquid and you don’t need to look any further than fresh water. Juices, sports drinks and cordials can often be havens for hidden sugar. Why not try freezing their bottle with fresh fruit pieces for a cool flavour burst on a hot day? If you are going to include a flavoured drink, aim for something that has a low glycaemic index (GI). This means that the combination of nutrients enable energy that lasts for longer.
5. Say cheeseTake every opportunity to increase their calcium intakes. Calcium is essential for growing bodies, strong bones and teeth, but only around half (45%) of 9 to 11 year old boys are getting enough, and even less when it comes to teens. Wholegrain cereal and milk (or fortified plant-based milk) for brekkie is a great start, and keep this going by making sure there’s yoghurt or cheese in the lunchbox.
6. Sayonara soggy sangasNo one wants to eat a soggy sandwich, but that’s no reason to sideline this lunchbox staple. It’s all a matter of some clever stacking to keep the bread fluffy. Try spreading condiments between the cheese and protein not straight onto the bread, and pat dry tomato slices and lettuce leaves with a paper towel before adding them to the sandwich.
7. Focus on freshTry and find in season fruit and veg. Not only will it save you money, you’ll be getting the produce at its best. Think sweet summer stonefruit or crisp winter apples. The kids will love the taste and the environment wins too – fresh fruit means minimal transport and packaging.