Since I became a mother, and because of my background as a Dietitian, I am always trying to find new ways to feed my children in a healthy, happy and innovative way. We are always heading out to parks, playcentres, school, etc., so a good breakfast alone is not enough to sustain our children’s appetite through an active day. We need to prepare morning and afternoon snacks, and sometimes even lunch and dinner to keep them at their best.
Eating healthy foods helps children to concentrate, play and learn. They learn from our example (so we need to make an extra effort in making healthier choices); they also learn from preparing their own lunch boxes or even by making a shopping list of the foods they enjoy. Positive reinforcements are also part of the lunch box making, so we need to praise our children when they choose healthy foods too.
But no matter how healthy your child’s lunch box is, it won’t provide any nutritional value if it doesn’t get eaten! You can make them fun, interesting and unique while using your Chooze Lunch Boxes and really appealing if you present the food in a YumBox bento box too.
What to put in a lunch box?
There are lots of food choices available for lunch boxes. Some healthy suggestions include:
Reduced fat dairy food
Like reduced fat yoghurt, reduced fat cheese (fingers, slices, triangles) or reduced fat milk. Include a small drink of milk (freeze overnight) wrapped in a cloth in the lunch box or cooled fruit yoghurts in an insulated lunch box. Best to left out of the lunch box: ‘dairy desserts’ and flavoured milks, which are high in sugar.
Like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. Have a variety to choose from, such as wholegrain breads, seeded rolls, Lebanese bread, pita, lavash, bagels; brown and white rice; or tricolor pasta. You could also try with fruit loaf or buns, focaccias, scones, pikelets, muffins, crumpets, crispbreads, rice cakes or corn thins.
Try vegetable with humus dip such as cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, capsicum and cucumber strips. You can also try corn and zucchini fritters. The options are endless.
Fresh fruit is easy to pack. Prefer the ones that are easy to peel (like bananas) or ready to eat (like blueberries, raspberries and grapes) or chop fresh strawberries, pineapple or melon. Dried fruit is sticky and high in sugar, so have it occasionally.
Like tuna or salmon, boiled eggs, beans, or lean meat such as beef or chicken.
A bottle of water
To keep your child hydrated all day. Freeze on hot days to keep the lunch box (and your child) nice and cool.
What should we avoid?
Keep away from your children’s lunch boxes: jacket potato crisps or similar, lollies, chocolate bars, chocolate biscuits, cordials and soft drinks. Donuts and creamy cakes are best offered at birthdays and special occasions. Try to avoid muesli bars and chocolate bars; these are expensive and are usually stuck together with fats and sugars.
Our busy, time-poor lifestyle is conducive to using convenience (pre-packaged) foods. Unfortunately, many of these foods are high in fat, salt and energy and should be used sparingly. Check the nutritional labels!
- During hot weather, avoid milk, yoghurt, fish or meat in lunches, unless they are packed in a good-quality cooler with an ice pack/frozen water bottle (to prevent food poisoning).
- Wash and dry salad vegetables thoroughly to avoid ‘soggy sandwiches’.
- Don’t forget a spoon when packing yoghurt or tubs of fruit (otherwise it will end up on the floor or on your child’s clothes).
- For busy families, prepare lunchboxes and sandwiches the night before and store them in the fridge to ensure your child always has a healthy lunch with them.
- Wash, rinse and thoroughly dry lunchboxes after every use to keep them safe and clean.
Probably this sounds a little bit overwhelming, but with practice and a little bit of common sense, the making of healthy lunch boxes will be even easier than eating them.
Lilia has a Bachelor degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and a Post Graduate Diploma in Sports Nutrition; passionate about Sports Nutrition, performance enhancement, exercise science and weight management. Lilia always works toward the fulfilment of her client goals, prioritizing their health over nutrition trends.