Here we are already getting stuck into a packed year! And as we send our kids off to school, whether for the first time or the umpteenth time, we are often caught between sending them with a lunch of “what is healthy” vs. “what they will eat”. Karina Savage has some great lunch box ideas.
Kids, like adults, have taste preferences – and it benefits everyone when we respect them! But that said, when it comes to healthy eating, there is a point where we have to draw a “line in the sand”.
Research says children should be regularly exposed to nutrient-dense plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes), if you want to increase their acceptance of these foods. But it can take time.
As a mum myself, I know the feeling that we always need a constant supply of new ideas for healthy and interesting lunch boxes. Let’s face it, our kids won’t always eat what’s in there, but don’t give up, just keep mixing it up! And remember, we are all in the same boat. Here are some great lunch box ideas.
Three food groups to focus on:
Carbohydrates: Try to encourage grain and wholegrain breads wherever possible as these foods have a much better effect on blood sugar levels.
- Grainy bread
- Wholegrain wraps
- Sweet potato wraps
- Grainy crackers eg. Ryvita’s/Vitawheat
- High fibre or wholemeal pasta salads
- High fibre or wholemeal cereals (dry Weetbix, dry Sultana Bran /Buds or All Bran)
- Brown/black/wild rice or basmati rice
- Baked potatoes
- Sweet potato wedges or sweet potato crisps (oven dried)
- English muffins (wholemeal).
- Air popped popcorn
- Wholemeal fruit muffins
- Banana bread or bliss balls
Protein: Protein keeps little stomachs fuller for longer which supports concentration. Makes for a great lunch box idea.
- Shredded chicken
- Lean meat
- Boiled eggs (whole or mashed with mayonnaise)
- Zucchini slice
- Bolognese or meatballs
- Baked beans or tinned 4 bean mix
- Edamame beans
- Dried chickpeas or fava beans,
Plant foods: Plant based foods supply a variety of nutrients essential for growing bodies.
- Fruit, whether fresh, dried or tinned
- Chopped carrot
- Sugar snap peas
- Snow peas
- Capsicum with dip (such as hommus, nut free pesto, beetroot, tzatziki)
- Frozen peas
- Baby corn or corn on the cob
- Vegie patties
- Roasted capsicum (from the jar is fine)
- Olives (try green vs black)
- Gherkins or cornichons
- Cherry tomatoes
- Dried chickpeas or fava beans
- Baby spinach/rocket (with extra virgin olive oil/vinegar dressing)
Calcium and good fats are also a very important part of a child’s daily intake and are the perfect lunch box idea. Whether its in the lunch box or at home, try to include some of these foods:
- Calcium rich foods include milk, yoghurt, cheese, canned fish (sardines, salmon with bones), soy products and leafy greens such as kale and bok choy, broccoli, lentils and sesame seeds.
- Good sources of healthy fats include avocado, salmon, sardines, seeds, nuts (at home) and extra virgin olive oil – used as a dressing or in cooking.
You can find more lunch box ideas for kids here.