Pack a Punch Lunch

Back to school and the fight to create a packed lunch worthy of your child’s praise begins! There’s so much to consider; the school’s policy on what should be in the lunchbox, current lunch box trends, (for your own sanity don’t let your children google lunchbox ideas – your child does not need to know about parents who recreate a scene from Star Wars out of celery, cherry tomatoes and a wholemeal wrap to surprise their children!) and finally, what food your children will currently eat!

You scour the fridge and cupboards for ideas, but nothing comes to you when faced with a piece of mouldy cheese, a slice of bread which just about passes for OK, except it’s the crust, and a crushed penguin (the chocolate sort, not the arctic kind!) Let’s face it, we’ve all been there before the payday shop!

You know you want to provide your child with something healthy, but not too ‘raw diet’ looking, something your child will eat at least enough of to get them through the school day and preferably affordable!

Here’s a few tips to get you going:

  • Try to cover the main food groups. Include sandwiches/pitta/wraps with fillings, such as, chicken, fish, cheese and eggs – try to avoid highly processed meats, such as, ham. Some form of dairy, cheese, yoghurt or fromage frais – try to stick to low sugar and reduced fat options where possible, especially for cheese which contains a lot of fat. Lastly, pack in some fruit and veg – an easy way to do this is to include salad in a sandwich, but vegetable sticks and dip are a good option too.
  • Giving them a lunch box filled with nutritionally rich foods will help with their afternoon learning. Your children may want chocolate and crisps, but they really don’t need these foods and many schools don’t allow them anymore. There’s no real nutritional value in them and it’s important to not give children too much sugar, for tooth health and to prevent an afternoon sugar slump.
  • Be sure to pack a drink for your child – water is the best option, but sugar free squash is fine too. If packing a fruit juice, make sure to limit the volume. Fruit juice is a great way to fit in one of your 5 a day, but it’s recommended to only have one 150ml serving per day.
  • Fussy eater? Don’t stress about it too much, it could make the situation worse. Children will eat if they’re hungry and are actually pretty good at regulating their appetites. Try to find alternatives for foods they don’t like e.g. wraps instead of sandwiches, pitta and dip. Maybe give smaller portions too. You can also try pasta or rice salads, tuna pasta with sweetcorn – be adventurous!
  • Get your child involved in making their own lunch! Don’t give them too much choice otherwise you could be there all night! Offer them a couple of choices, eg: ‘would you like banana or apple?’, ‘cheese or egg in your sandwich?’ If your children are young they can cut their sandwiches into shapes using cookie cutters, (not recommended for teenagers unless you want to ‘ruin their life’)! Thread veg, such as, tomatoes and cucumber chunks, with a chunk of cheese onto cocktail sticks for a change. Getting them involved in cooking and preparing healthy meals will give them a great start to a healthier life later on.
  • You don’t need to spend a fortune on fresh fruit and veg either! Tinned and frozen is just as good. In the warmer months you can put frozen fruit in to act as an ice pack and by lunch time it should be defrosted. Tinned fruit can be used over a couple of days. Give dried fruit at meal times only to protect teeth. Don’t spend money on bags of carrot batons, buy whole carrots and chop or slice them. Let your child take fruit to mix in with their yoghurt.

For more help visit the Change 4 Life website too!

Stay healthy,

Leanne x

A massive thank you to Leanne for writing this article, a healthy lunch is essential for a child’s growth and development especially whilst they’re at school. If you try some of these, let us know how you’ve got on!

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