If you’re making packed lunches for your kids when they start school, five times every week, you might find yourself filling their lunchbox with the same meal every day. Sure, sandwiches are good, but if you want to spice things up a bit, get your kids trying new meals and ensure that you give them a healthy and balanced diet. Tips include crunchy veggies, fresh fruit, and a combination of dairy, carbs, and protein.
Here we’ve got you covered as you try new foods. You can match ideas to suit your budget. The sizes have been designed for primary school kids, but older kids and grownups, portion up. In this article, you can find top tips to ensure your lunchboxes provide a balance of nutrients, appealing to everyone, especially kids.
What goes into a healthy lunchbox?
Cereals (grains), potatoes, and other starchy foods
At least pack one item from this food group; they include pasta salad, sweet potato wedges, rice, crackers, rice cakes, couscous, potato salad, wraps, pitabread, and plain popcorn. These foods are essential as they provide energy and fuel for vital tissues and organs, including the brain.
Try to include some whole grain varieties from this food group weekly as they provide extra fiber. These whole grains foods include; whole-wheat pasta, whole meal, granary, and brown rice.
At least one portion of dairy or fortified daily products is enough. They include; soya custard, yogurts, milk, yogurt-based smoothies, coconut milk, oat milk, rice pudding, and cheese.
It’s essential to have this food because they provide calcium, vitamin A, protein, Vitamin B12, and iodine.
Fruits and veggies
At least one fruit and one vegetable in every lunch box is great. They include dried fruits, salads, canned fruits, fresh fruits, and any vegetables. You can add vegetables to salads, rice, couscous dishes, pasta, or rice.
Why fruits and veggies? They are a good source of minerals, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.
It would be best if you aimed for a variety of colors. Not only will it make the lunchbox more delicious, but it provides a variety of different minerals and vitamins. If you’re using canned fruits, make sure it is canned in juice and not syrup to keep sugar content low.
Fish, eggs, bean, meat, and any non-dairy sources of protein
At least one portion from this group is enough. They include beef, lamb, beans, eggs, fish, shellfish, peas, pulses, chicken, beef, pork, tofu, and hummus.
These foods are essential as they provide minerals such as zinc and iron, and protein too. Iron is necessary as our bodies cannot make iron, so we have to obtain it from only the foods we et.If you do not eat enough iron; you are at high risk of getting iron deficiency anemia, affecting your physical and mental development.
Unless your baby is vegan, try to include fish in her/his meal weekly. Oily fish, to be precise, is beneficial for kids’ brain development and growth. Types of oily fish are salmon, whether canned, frozen, or fresh it is okay, pilchards, herring, sardines, and mackerel.
Water and milk are the best drinks for kids since they are tooth-friendly.Its recommended to check your kids’ school food and drink policy to see what other healthy drinks they allow. A bottle filled with water that kids can refill throughout the day is the best way to keep kids hydrated.
Milk is also an excellent drink for lunch boxes, and UHT milk is the right choice for school since it does not need to be kept cold.
Sugar-sweetened drinks are not suitable for kids’ lunch boxes. These include fruit drinks, flavored waters, ice teas, mineral waters, sports drinks, and sugar-sweetened soft drinks. They should be avoided. Some of these drinks are acidic and may result in dental health problems.
Salmon roll-ups with sliced pepper sticks
This meal, which uses salmon-canned, smoked, or cooked- is an excellent source of omega 3 and is perfect for enhancing your kid’s brain. Oily fish should be limited to two portions a week for girls and four portions a week for boys. Serve in a wholemeal for extra fiber with cheese for extra protein and calcium mineral. You could include portions of sliced pepper sticks for more vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and fiber, to make an awesome balanced lunchbox.
Nut-free Oat Bars
These nut-free oat bars are a great addition to give your kids extra energy throughout the day.
Yogurt with raisins and oats, and tortilla nests with chopped tomatoes.
This lunch box idea is an excellent way to use up leftovers cooked beef mince from an evening dinner. Beef mince is an excellent source of iron. Soya mince will also provide some iron but not as, such as beef mince.
Tinned ratatouille is rich in vitamin C, and it helps kids to absorb this iron. Top up this with some yogurt topped with raisins for sweetness and vitamins plus a sprinkle of oats for added fiber.
Whole meal pita pizza topped with chicken and sprinkled with peppers, and canned peaches plus natural yogurt.
Ingredients for pita bread are; 2 sliced tomatoes, 50g of grated cheese, two tablespoons of mixed herbs, and two tablespoons of tomato puree.
Wholemeal pita pizzas are cheap, easy to make, and ready in a few minutes. With a tomato puree base and topped with cooked chicken and peppers, you can build a perfectly balanced and delicious lunchbox. When you want to change from a piece of fruit for pudding, switch to canned fruit instead but avoid syrup. Serve this with natural plain yogurt for a healthy lunchbox.
Tuna and pasta, and a fruit
This lunchbox idea is excellent and straightforward. Cook some dried wholemeal pasta for extra fiber, add a can of tuna,add chopped tomatoes or tomato puree, and a tin of sweetcorn. Now, your kid chooses their favorite fruit choice to boost vitamin, fiber, and antioxidants for the day.
FOODS TO KEEP OUT OF A LUNCHBOX
Meats like smoked turkey, mortadella, Strasburg, salami, and pastrami are fatty, salty, and highly processed. It is advisable to check allowed foods in schools as many schools ask that you don’t pack some foods such as eggs. Some children have allergies when they come into contact with such foods.
FOOD SAFETY IN LUNCH BOXES
Most of the time, food is stored in lunchboxes for several hours. Food safety suggestions include;
• Follow hygienic food preparation methods. This is essential when food will be stored in a lunch box for several hours before consuming it.
• Go for an insulated lunch box, one with a freezer pack or one that includes a wrapped frozen water bottle to keep the lunch box cool.
• Perishable foods such as dairy products, sliced meats, and eggs should be kept cool and eaten within 4 hours of preparation. Don’t pack these foods if just cooked. If you want to fill them, first cool in the fridge overnight.
• Prepare food the night before and store it in the freezer.