5 Healthy lunchbox ideas
5 Healthy Lunch Box Tips
1. Keep things simple
It’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed with what to pack into your child’s lunchbox and it’s drilled into us that they need variety and a balanced diet. Variety and choice has its place but that doesn’t mean you need to pack ten different items into their lunch each day. The trick is to keep things simple and easy for you and for them. Bento boxes are great for this as they conveniently split a lunch box into different compartments. Some even give suggestions for what to put into each section such as fruits, veggies, grains and dairy. These compartments keep each item separate and fresh and add to the fun for your child as they pick and choose from each one. ‘Keeping things simple’ might be as easy as adding: one fruit one veggie, legumes or beans one grain (such as wholemeal wrap, sandwiches, pasta or rice) dairy (such as cheese or yogurt) one protein (such as lean meats, poultry, eggs or tofu) a snack If you have the time (and inclination!) you could amp up the fun by chopping the fruit and veggies into cute shapes that your child will love. Cookie cutters are great for this and there are a wealth of food cutting tools on the market now to help make this easier too. Looking for inspiration? Instagram is a great resource for lunch box ideas – check out hashtags such as #bentobox #foodforkids #lunchboxideas and more. You might end up getting some ideas to elevate your own lunch, as well as your kids’!
2. Have some ‘go-to’ choices
Having a few tried and tested recipes, or lunch box combinations, up your sleeve will make the process much quicker and easier for you. If a particular sandwich or snack as been a hit with your child, add it to their box a few times in the week. You could even batch-make the same lunchbox for a couple of days in a row to save time too. Your ‘go-to’s might also include leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. This will not only save you time but also save money by ensuring that food isn’t wasted. Tip: meal prep your child’s lunches in advance to make the time spent making them throughout the week much quicker. Veggies can be chopped a few days in advance in one big batch and sandwiches might be prepared and frozen. Other ideas for foods you can make and freeze ahead include: Muffins Pikelets Fritters Patties Bars and Slices Stock your freezer with some pre-portioned lunch box options that you can pop into their lunchbox the night before in the fridge, ready for their school bag the next morning.
3. Make it easy to eat
If packing utensils isn’t an option – and let’s face it, they’ll likely lose them – try to make the food you pack easy to pick up and eat. Finger food works great – such as chopped veggie sticks, pre-peeled fruit and non-messy wraps. Carrot, celery and cucumber are easy to cut into long fingers and you might add some hummus for dipping. Cubes or sticks of cheese are also an easy option to pop into the box. Go light on the packaging too as it will make it easier for your child to access their food and not contribute to unnecessary waste.
4. Use airtight containers
Airtight boxes and bottles are a must for keeping food fresh throughout the day. Check to see if your daycare or school has a fridge available for your child as many do not. In this case, you might pop an ice pack into your child’s bag next to their lunchbox to keep it as cool and fresh as possible until lunchtime.
5. Keep them hydrated
Finally, make sure to pack a bottle of water to keep them hydrated and energised throughout the day. They will be able to top up the water at daycare or school but send a full bottle to make the start of the day easy for them. During an active day at school, your child will look forward to their lunch and we want to ensure that what we give them will set them up for a great afternoon full of energy. Let’s recap: a healthy lunchbox can contain a mix of fruits, veggies, grains, protein and dairy – plus a little snack will be loved by your child! Using a variety of different foods will not only help your child get a balanced, nutritious diet but will also encourage them to try new things. Keep the contents of their lunch box looking appealing and fresh to inspire them to try what’s inside. You’ll then be well on your way to them bringing home an empty lunchbox and having a happy tummy!