The kids are back to school; with this comes the challenging task of providing them with a delicious and nutritious lunch box. Walking through the supermarket, being bombarded by cleaver and misleading marketing does not make your job any easier. This is why I thought I would come up with some easy healthy options for you to pack for your little ones.
My biggest tip is to limit the amount of ‘kids snack foods’ from the supermarket and pack real food that you would eat yourself. Yes packaged foods are convenient and easy but these “convenient” foods are a major reason why the western world has increasing numbers of obesity. We need to bring it back to basics, think rainbow and pack foods our grandma would approve of.
Here are the government recommended guidelines for your kids….
- Eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruits
- Eat plenty of cereals (including breads, rice, pasta and noodles), preferably wholegrain
- Include lean meat, fish, poultry and/or alternatives
- Include milks, yoghurts, cheese and/or alternatives.
- Choose water as a drink
- Limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake. Low-fat diets are not suitable for infants
- Choose foods low in salt
- Consume only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars
And here is how you achieve this…..
School snack options:
- Wholegrain rice crackers with a slice of cheese
- Low sugar or homemade muesli bars (less than 5g sugar per bar)
- Celery sticks with a thin spread of nut butter or tahini spread topped with sultanas (nuts permitted)
- Handful of home made pita bread chips (cut pita bread into triangles, sprinkle with a little olive oil and seasoning of your choice then bake 180ºC 15 - 20 minutes until crisp).
- Bundle of carrot and celery sticks with a mini hummus/ tzatziki pot.
- Small tub natural yoghurt (you could also buy the 1kg and divide it yourself)
- Piece of fresh fruit , fruit skewers or 1 cup of seasonal fruit salad in a container
- Salad box with a hard-boiled egg and cherry tomatoes
- Snow peas, capsicum, feta, pitted olives
- Small container of baked beans
- Chicken drumstick
- Slice of wholemeal fruit loaf/raisin bread
School lunch options:
- Homemade vegetable based pizza
- Brown rice sushi roll with avocado, carrot and tuna/ chicken/ salmon
- Vegetable packed frittata
- Buckwheat noodle box with chicken strips and snow peas
- Falafel and tabouli salad box with hummus
- Stir-fry left overs with basmati rice
- Home-made vegetable fried rice with egg
Sandwich fillings options:
- Avocado or hummus, instead of margarine
- Ham off the bone, salad and chutney
- Ricotta or cottage cheese, grated carrot and raisins
- Roast beef with salad
- Chopped egg, cucumber and lettuce
- Shredded chicken meat, mixed salad and avocado
- Banana mashed with ricotta cheese and cinnamon
- Tahini spread, grated carrot and sultanas
- Hummus, sliced tomato and sprouts
- Homemade beef burger patties with salad on a wholemeal roll
My tip is to include a variety of fresh seasonal fruit, salad and vegetables. Include wholegrain products and a protein source such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products or legumes. Sure there are going to be times when you pack treats but it should be just that, a treat. Don’t let marketing fool you; kids do not need that processed rubbish most supermarkets are packed with. Fresh is best and if start them young they wont know any different. It may be a little more time consuming so make it easy on yourself and do a cook up on Sunday and pack leftovers. The extra time you put in now is saving your kids waistline and health in the future.
I hope this helps.
The Health Whisperer
Note: These recommendations are in accordance with the dietary guidelines for children in Australia.
Information includes recommendations from The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, The Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and the National Health and Medical Council.
Teresa Boyce is a qualified Nutritionist, writer and presenter. If you would like to contact Teresa for a nutrition consultation or if you have any questions relating to health and wellbeing please feel free to contact her on 0416 385 900 alternatively you can email Teresa at email@example.com