Back to school lunches
With the kids going back to school, here are our tips to help you make healthy lunchboxes that your children will enjoy.
Lunches provide around one third of our child’s daily nutritional needs, so it’s good to put some planning into them. Joana Caldeira Fernandes da Silva, our Chief Specialist in Nutrition says “We know that children who eat a good lunch in school are better able to concentrate and learn in the classroom. School lunches are a great opportunity for children to build healthy eating habits that they will keep up for life.”
Here are our top 5 tips to consider when making their lunch this school year.
1. Include all the food groups
School lunches can become repetitive. So, try to include a wide variety of foods from every food group - fruit and vegetables, starchy foods like bread, pasta and rice, protein like meat, beans & pulses, fish and eggs and dairy like milk, yogurt and cheese.
2. Vary the kinds of bread
Use the same lunch time staples in different ways. For example, instead of sandwiches every day, try varying the type of bread by using pittas, bagels or wraps. Keeping a stock in the freezer is a good way to avoid food waste. Or if your child enjoys rice or pasta include that instead of bread.
3. Keep them hydrated
It’s important to keep kids hydrated throughout the day – up to 6 cups of fluid should be encouraged daily. Milk and plain water are the best options for drinks. We understand it can be difficult getting your child to drink water. Brightly coloured bottles can make plain water more interesting.
4. Get them involved
Get your child involved in choosing and making their lunches. This is a perfect opportunity for them to learn about healthy eating and pick up good habits. And if your child is starting school this year, get them to practice opening and closing their lunchbox – honestly their teacher will be grateful!
Here's a playlist of lunchbox videos you could make with your children.
5. Try out new ideas
Often when introducing new food to children, they will need to see and taste it several times before they accept it as part of their regular diet. So, why not try out new ideas at dinner time or at the weekends before including them in the lunchbox. Here's more ideas on encouraging your children to eat new foods.
Now that you have some lunch ideas sorted, let’s talk about keeping their lunchbox safe. Here are some lunchbox safety tips.
- It might be a good idea to consider getting an insulated lunchbox or bag to keep food cool until lunch time. Particularly if foods like yogurts or milk are included in the lunch.
- Remind your child to keep their lunches away from radiators or direct sunlight.
- Remember, any perishable food that is not eaten by the end of the day should be thrown away.
- Wash and dry reusable water bottles, lids and lunchboxes every day with warm soapy water. Here's more on keeping lunchboxes clean.
- Lastly, always encourage your child to wash their hands before eating lunch.
For more healthy school lunch ideas take a look at our five-day lunchbox planner.