Red packets of raisins, Club and Penguin bars, Fruit Roll Ups….they never did us any ‘arm. But how times have changed. Or rather, how our knowledge of the dangers of the processed, sugary stuff has changed. And not a moment too soon. Nowadays, the focus has shifted from simply sedating to nourishment and nutrition, but that shouldn’t mean the little ones will no longer enjoy their packed lunch. Quite the opposite, in fact, with these; our 5 IDEAL tips for creating a healthier kid’s lunchbox.
STARCH FOR SATIATION
One of the toughest parts of lunchbox curation is designing a menu which will keep the kids full for long enough. Because as any parent knows, hunger can lead to lethargy, lack of motivation and perhaps worst of all, a temptation to sneak in some totally unhealthy snacks. Ensure their bellies stay rumbleless for longer with plenty of starch, in the form of pasta, potatoes, bread and rice. Because though the modern, dieting adult may approach such items with caution, for growing children, they are brilliant.
KNOW YOUR CHEESE
Cheese is an irresistible lunchbox staple, ideal in sandwiches and on sticks with grapes equally. It’s also a much perpetuated myth that it’s totally evil and unforgivingly fattening. But it is important that you differentiate between cheeses and are aware that they weren’t all created equal. Mozzarella, for instance, is particularly good as it’s lower in sodium and calories than most other cheeses. Blue cheese also ticks boxes; though it might not be a kid’s favourite, it contains particularly high levels of calcium.
Should big blocks of the good stuff be a little unpalatable for the kids, then some cheese in snack form can still be good for your child’s health. Snacks like Strings & Things represent a good source of calcium, keeping kids’ bones healthy, and protein. Containing no added sugars, this represents a far more prudent treat than something totally processed.
Chocolate bars…who can resist them? We certainly can’t, but it’s wise to try and restrict your child’s consumption of them, as too much chocolate can spell problems. Better to swap out the processed sugars for sweet options which have health benefits, like fresh fruit. Though such a move may initially be met with resistance, in time an appreciation for fruit – which when properly ripe and seasonal can be knock out delicious – will develop.
HAVE IT HANDS ON
We’ve got this far without mentioning them, as we didn’t want to cause a tantrum, but by now we need to talk about vegetables. It’s true that kids rarely see them in the same light as the other items in their packed lunch, but there are ways to make them more accessible. Having items cut into sticks (you could even do it together) for a more hands on experience, preferably with something to dip into, makes the whole eating journey that little bit more engaging. It’s essentially playing with food, and every child loves that right?
With all this talk of tucker, it can be easy to neglect the drink selection in your kid’s lunchbox. And by neglect, we mean ‘chuck anything you can find’ in there. But some of the worst offenders for sugary, unhealthy packed lunch items lurk in liquid form. So, always check the label for added sugars, and value ‘no added sugar’ above all else. Job done, and you can thank us later.