Back to School Lunches
While many parents rejoice in the end of the school holidays, back to school time also comes with the dread of figuring out what to do for school lunches. For many parents, figuring out what to put in the lunch box every day can be a source of great stress and frustration when considering how to make a lunch box healthy and exciting and something that your child isn’t going to leave rotting at the bottom of the school bag.
As frustrating as it may be, it’s worth putting some time and thought into those school lunches since approximately 30% of your child’s daily food intake will be consumed at school. A well balanced lunch box is essential for providing kids with the energy they need to remain alert during class and active during recess and lunch.
Below are 5 tips for creating healthy lunch boxes to keep your kids going throughout the day.
1. Follow the 5 Food Groups
Use the five food groups as a guide to help decide the types of food you want to include in the lunch box. Make sure the lunch box contain at least one item from the grain, protein, fruit, vegetables and dairy food groups. An example of this would be a lunch box containing a chicken and salad sandwich on wholegrain bread, a small tub of yoghurt and a piece of fruit. Any extra snacks should also come from these 5 food groups.
2. Make Some Swaps
It’s not uncommon for discretionary food items to find their way into the school lunch box due to their convenience and appeal to children. While these items are convenient, they offer little nutritional support to your child. Simply swap chips or biscuits for air popped pop corn and cut up vegetables, while fruit drinks and soft drinks can be swapped for water and fresh fruit.
3. Try and Try Again
Kids can be fussy but it’s important to keep exposing your child to the healthier options as it tends to take time and repeated exposure before a child will accept a new food. It often helps to get your child involved in choosing items to put in their lunch box. If you find they are not eating the food, ask them why and what you could do to help make the lunch box more appealing.
4. Keep it Fresh
If you are packing items such as cheese, yoghurt or meat make sure to keep the food fresh and safe by using insulated lunch boxes and freezer blocks.
5. Be prepared
With everything else there is to do in the morning, packing the school lunches can be a last minute rush. Organise the lunch box items the night before so that everything is ready to go in the morning. Put cut up vegetables or fruit in their containers and leave in the fridge until they need to be packed in the morning and any other non-refrigerated items can go straight into the lunch box the night before.
Written by Katherine Ramsden, Nutritionist.
Nutrition Force is a Western Australian based company of Nutritionists and Accredited Practising Dietitians that offer weight loss programs, private dietetic consultations, children’s nutrition & dietetics, school nutrition and Corporate Wellness programs. If you would like more information on our Perth Dietitians and the other services we offer call us today on (08) 9385 7755.