Whether you are a first-time school parent or a seasoned school veteran, the lunchbox battle can get the best of anyone.
Nailing that winning formula of tasty treats you know they will devour, the good stuff they need and enough to fill them up is tough, especially when you need to magically pull it all together while making breakfast, plaiting the hair, and reading teachers’ notes that have been squashed in the bottom of school bags.
Why are school lunchboxes so important?
According to research, for many children, from Monday to Friday the food in their school lunchbox makes up about 30-40% of their food intake. Children are all growing. They need food that nourishes them, that supports their growth and development. They need food which helps their concentration and their ability to learn. Unfortunately, many lunchboxes are loaded with packaged processed foods which do little to nourish bodies and brains. We are told these foods are convenient but at what cost to health and learning? Packing a healthy lunchbox your child eats doesn’t have to be difficult. Below are tips by culinary nutrition expert and dietitian Jessica Levinson on how as a parent or housekeeper you can go about packing healthy lunchboxes.
Lunch needs to provide children with energy that will get them through their classes for the day and beyond.
What good is nutritious food if kids won’t eat it?! Keep lunch flavourful by providing in-season ripe fruit, roasted vegetables if your kids won’t eat raw (roasting brings out the sweetness), cooked meats and grains prepared with herbs and spices, and flavoured yoghurts or milk if the kids don’t like plain.
Most lunch periods aren’t too long, so lunch can’t be a five-course meal. Keep it on the simpler side by including some pre-packaged products like individual containers of yoghurt, applesauce, hummus and low-fat cheese.
Hot lunch needs to stay hot and cold food cold, from the time kids get on the bus or taxi in the morning until they consume it. To keep lunch safe, keep cold food in the refrigerator until just before children run out the door.
In addition to food safety, you want to think about how your packed lunch will hold up until lunchtime. Try packing each component of a sandwich separately and have kids assemble it at lunchtime.