Back to basics: packing a healthy lunchbox.

I’m throwing in a completely relevant curve ball this week. I’ve talked about life the past two weeks, and next week I’m posting another food-melbourne-life post which will just be delicious. Anyway, I’ve been noticing something the past two weeks. My quick zip through the supermarket has been slowed down as I weave between the ‘Mum, can I please get a lolly?’, ‘No it’s got sugar in it’ and the occasional ‘Okay, just don’t tell your mum’. There is a whole lot of little people being distracted by bright colours  and conveniently placed cartoon characters (Elsa), who are at risk of being bowled down by my basket full of chobani, tahini & cruciferous vegetables. And as the end of the week approaches, the dynamics of shopping trolleys are starting to change and their are puzzled looks on faces as they navigate the food labels of the ever increasing variety of snack foods on the supermarket shelves. (Just incase you’ve you’ve been walking around with your head glued to your phone. 1. You need to stop that, you could get hit by a tram, and 2. It’s been school holidays.)

This all means it’s lunchbox season again.

During term 3, in my community role I visited 3 local primary schools. We talked ‘everyday’ and ‘sometimes’ foods, played with food models, made hommus & we did a little activity in comparing the packages, nutrition & price of very common breakfast cereals.

A common theme that arose from teachers and students during these activities was the lunchbox situation. Chocolate, lollies, chips, biscuits and shapes were frequenting lunchboxes & these provide little nourishment for  growing bodies and minds. These sometimes foods should be kept out of the lunchbox and saved for special occasions.

A child’s lunchbox contains approximately 1/3 of their daily food intake. So it’s important to include a variety of food from the five food groups – fruit, vegetables, dairy, wholegrains & lean protein.

I suggest ensuring a main lunch item, at least one fruit and one vegetable, and an additional snack.

So for lunch mix it up with

  • chicken & vegetable pasta
  • tuna & salad wrap
  • egg & lettuce wholegrain sandwich
  • zucchini slice & salad
  • beef, vegetable & noodle stir fry
  • left over meatballs, lentil patties or falafels with salad
  • mini pizzas

Help your child to their 2 & 5 with:

  • fresh fruit
  • chopped fruit in a tub (or even better – make fruit kebabs)
  • vegetable sticks (carrot, celery, cucumber, capsicum) & dip
  • whole snack size vegetables i.e. snow peas, cherry tomatoes
  • adding salad to sandwiches & wraps

And for extra brain food, add 1 of these: 

  • wholegrain crackers/rice cakes with low fat cheese
  • cheese cubes
  • tub of yoghurt
  • boiled egg
  • plain popcorn
  • fruit bread
  • vegetable muffins

Don’t forget to always include a bottle of water & pack an ice brick to keep it cool.

Remember kids can be fussy. They want fun. They want variety. Make the lunchbox look exciting. Buy a cool lunchbox (with compartments – prevents squashing). Include the colours of the rainbow. If you need to put fruit on a skewer to get your child to eat it, do it. Even better, get them involved. Try not to pack the same thing every day.

School & a balanced lunchbox go hand in hand. Because really, we go to school to learn the foundations to living. How to read and write, How to find x, How to tell the time. And just like establishing these important skills, developing health eating practices early will lead to a happy & healthy life in the future.

Happy term 4 lovelies, only 84 sleeps till Christmas.

Emma xo

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