Nothing screams out ‘back to school’ like pulling out the lunchboxes and mentally preparing for the endless months ahead of making school lunches (can I hear a groan?). How can something so innocent turn into something that leaves us pulling out our hair each morning!?
With so many things going on in the household each morning, making school lunches can turn into a chore we live to regret. Here are 8 tips to help take some of the stress out of your morning rush and help you pack a lunch that is not only healthy but one your kids will love to eat.
8 Tips to Packing a Healthy School Lunch Box
1.Choose a lunch box that has separate compartments. Often referred to as bento boxes, they come from Japanese origins and are usually airtight, spill-proof and make it easy to include a variety of healthy options of essential food groups each day.
2. Discuss options — Involve your children in the conversation of what healthy options to include in the lunch box before going back to school. This allows the child to feel ownership with a sense of control when it comes to opening their lunchbox at school (practice this too!).
3. Once made, leave the lunchbox in the fridge until the last minute to keep it cool, then add a slimline cool pack to an insulated type bag to fit the lunchbox. This keeps food fresh, cool without the chance of spoilage.
4. The organisation is key. Begin Monday with a full fridge and options you can include during the week. Perhaps this means spending time on a Sunday afternoon preparing and including the children in making some healthy muffins or slice or take them grocery shopping. Include items such as Greek yoghurt, vegetables such as snow peas, carrot/celery sticks and edamame beans or air-popped popcorn or homemade chia seed pudding alongside a healthy salad and chicken whole grain wrap and piece of fruit.
5. Choose to go nude. By opting for a plastic-free lunch, not only will you be reducing landfill waste but also avoiding processed foods that are devoid of nutrients. Proper nutrition means better learning outcomes and there is no doubt, children who begin eating a healthy diet from a young age are more inclined to make healthy choices as they grow into adulthood.
6. Make double batches at dinner time. Children love leftovers and they can often be reheated and stored in an insulated container to keep warm. Meals such as spaghetti bolognese, soups, and casseroles are great options to include once the weather turns cool.
7. Always choose water. Hydration is important and sugary poppers or sports drinks are not necessary at school. Caffeine is not well tolerated in children under 14 and may inhibit proper nutrient uptake such as calcium. Insulated walled water bottles are great to use in the summertime to keep hot bodies cool!
8. Comparison is not relevant. Your children will be exposed to many styles of lunchboxes, some not so healthy. Unfortunately, healthy is not the norm, so take some time to explain to your children that their lunchbox is how you choose to eat as a family, for the sake of their long-term health. There may be a few bumpy roads in the beginning but perseverance with this topic with help form your child’s identity around healthy eating in years to come.