Healthy Lunchboxes - Some Food For Thought

Healthy Lunchboxes - Some Food For Thought

Teachers often say to me that some children’s lunchboxes only consist of packaged food – for example packets of chips, sweet biscuits and chocolate bars. So this got me thinking. Were parents thinking this approach was cheaper or were there time factors involved, or were they just out of lunchbox ideas?

Well, help is at hand! Lunchboxes that are nutritious and provide children with the necessary foods for functioning and good growth (mind and body) do not need to be expensive, or take loads of time to prepare. That is absolutely a myth. So, here are some of my suggestions ...

Diane Stride's Top Tips For Healthy Lunchboxes

  • First up, you do not need to include pre-packaged foods. Not only are they generally a poor source of nutrients, they're often expensive. Although a few crackers in a small container are ok to include as an added extra.
  • Home cut cheese sticks, as opposed to pre-packaged cheeses, are an easier and cheaper option,and they only take a few moments to prepare. Cut your own into cubes, fingers or other shapes to keep things interesting.
  • Home baking doesn’t include all the preservatives and additives of store-bought products.
  • If money is a concern, and you're currently stocking your kids' lunchboxes with pre-packaged chips, biscuits and muesli bars, a few cheaper and healthier options, that cost less and only take a few minutes to make, are:
    • A peanut butter sandwich
    • Two types of fruit – the ones they like!
    • Carrot sticks, or other home cut vegetables
    • A few crackers in a container
  • Aim for some protein, a filler (not always necessary, depending on how much protein has been included) and some high nutrient-dense foods.

Protein For Healthy Lunchboxes

  • Peanut, almond or cashew butter, or my favourite ... hummus
  • Meat – leftovers from the night before are good. Maybe some pieces of chicken, beef, meatballs, ham, sausages (from the butcher, not the very processed ones)
  • By the way, for proteins in summer conditions, it's important to include a slicker pad in your kids' lunchboxes to keep protein cool. Place slicker pads in a zip-lock bag to avoid soggy food
  • Nuts
  • Boiled eggs  – hard boiled and peeled for ease of eating ;)

Fillers For Healthy Lunchboxes

  • Bread, rolls, wraps or pita pockets – wholegrain is better in my opinion, often much less sugar
  • Home baking – homemade muesli bars and muffins made with almond flour if you need to increase protein intake
  • Pre-boiled Pasta – but not dry 2-minute noodles!
  • Rice, quinoa or couscous salads – kids love this stuff!

Nutrient Dense Foods For Healthy Lunchboxes

  • Capsicum or carrots – cut into pieces
  • Cherry tomatoes – whole
  • Cucumber – sticks or rounds
  • Dried apricots – whole
  • Avocado – sliced in half, wrapped and supplied with utensil to eat
  • Fruit – cut any way you like
  • Gherkins – yum!

In A Nutshell, Please Think About Good Nutrition For Your Kids

Let your imagination run wild and you'll see how much satisfaction you'll get when you see a lunchbox filled with colour and whole foods that comes home empty day after day after day ... honestly it works!

Diane Stride is a New Zealand-registered dietitian and nutritionist, working out of the Village Health Centre in Havelock North, Hawke's Bay.

CLICK HERE for Diane's contact details and clinic hours. Or BOOK NOW online!