Lunch is an important meal for kids and should provide at least one third of a child’s daily nutrients to help them grow, learn and play. Of course this time of year can be quite scary for parents (as well as kids!) as they face the ‘lunchbox challenge’ of trying to pack a healthy lunch that does not get swapped, thrown away or arrive home untouched! To help make this time of year a little less daunting we have put together lots of fun and practical top tips and resources to help make sure healthy lunchboxes instantly appeal to kids!
Variety is key when it comes to the lunchbox. Children love variety & surprise. Vary the types of bread or starchy foods that you use. Include wraps, pitta breads, baps, rolls, crackers, pasta, rice and scones. Different fillings & different fruit and vegetables on different days all help to encourage them to eat their lunch.
Draw fun faces on bananas or oranges. Add fun napkins or stickers of their favourite characters to lunchboxes. Make rehydrating fun by using colourful straws and drink bottles. Make water more interesting by adding slices of lemon, lime or orange.
Cut sandwiches into diamonds, soldiers or triangles. Cut cheese or sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Why not make wholemeal bread swiss rolls? Simply place a slice of wholemeal bread on a piece of greaseproof paper. Fold the paper over the bread & gently flatten with a rolling pin. Place or smooth your filling onto the bread & carefully roll it up.
Include small fruits and vegetables such as grapes, cherry tomatoes or raisins in the lunchbox. Choose small apples or pears. Peel satsumas & wrap them in cling film to make eating them as easy as possible for little fingers.
Create colourful lunchboxes by using different colour fruit and vegetables in sandwiches & on their own e.g. sweetcorn, lettuce, blueberries, tomatoes, red, green or yellow peppers, strawberries & kiwi are all great choices. Why not include a colourful fruit salad from time to time?
Bring children on a picnic or two with packed lunches in the weeks coming up to back to school (you need only go as far as the front lawn or local park!). This is a great way to see what foods they like and dislike.
Set a good example with your own lunch. If you eat a ‘grown up’ wholemeal sandwich, they are more likely to want to eat one.
Kids love dipping. Include hummus, cream cheese or yogurt along with vegetable sticks (such as carrot, celery, cucumber or red pepper), crackers or sliced pitta breads for dipping in the lunchbox from time to time.
Planning ahead is essential for healthy lunchboxes. Involve your child in filling out a weekly lunchbox planner & include these foods in your weekly shopping list.
Involve children as much as possible in planning, buying and preparing a healthy lunch. If they decide what to put in a lunchbox, it is far more likely they will eat it. Fill out a shopping list with them using our lunchbox checklist & lunchbox suggested combinations as a guide.
Encourage giggles & smiles and make them look forward to opening their lunchboxes (& more importantly eating its contents!) by adding little notes (I love you) & jokes.
Encourage healthy eating while at the same time teaching children about foods of the world. Theme a lunchbox on different countries using tortillas (Mexican), pasta (Italian) and baguettes (French).