Challenge: Update Your Kid's Lunchbox With 1 of These Unexpected Healthy Meals
As all busy and time-poor families are (very) well aware, the daily school lunchbox is an ongoing challenge — often made more complicated if there's a fussy eater (or three) to appease. It's a topic that often comes up in both my clinic and at workshops, with frustrated families struggling to keep the lunchboxes healthy, varied and as interesting as possible, whilst still ensuring that it's tasty enough so it arrives home empty!
School aged children have very specific daily nutritional requirements, making it really important that their lunchboxes meet their daily needs and at the same time, provides them with the necessary energy to sustain them throughout the day. I encourage families to view the lunchbox as an opportunity to support their child's healthy growth and development, as well as improving their ability to concentrate and boosting their energy levels for physical activities.
It's for this reason that I feature a range of lunchbox menu planners in my book- for both adventurous and fussy eaters, along with guidelines and optional lunchbox extras.
Ideally, a child's daily lunchbox should contain a serve of a quality protein, one to two serves of a slow-release carbohydrate, two to three vegetables, a healthy fat and a calcium-rich food option. I generally recommend that fruit also be included as a morning or afternoon snack, as it may interfere with them eating the other more sustaining options in the lunchbox. If your child is used to juice, I suggest diluting this down, with the intention of moving to water eventually.
Aiming for variety and colour, including your kids in menu planning and involving them in the shopping and preparation are all great ways to encourage and create enthusiasm. Ask them what they'd like to eat to give them a sense of control, and talk to them about the importance of healthy food and how it will sustain them through the day.
Many families can also find creating healthy and appealing lunchbox alternatives to the humble cheese and Vegemite sandwich a struggle- especially if their little ones are avid sandwich fans.
It's not to say however that sandwiches don't have their place in a healthy and nutritious lunchbox. Here are some ideas to supercharge the nutritional content of sandwiches and to help add more variety. The quality of the sandwich bread is an important factor. In my book I give details on how to best choose high quality, healthy bread options, as well as how to understand the nutrition labels and spot hidden nasties.
Here are five fully kid-approved nutritious lunchbox recipe ideas, all of them delicious as well as allergy and school-friendly.