It’s so difficult to come up with new ideas for lunchbox treats that are healthy and nutritious. After all, what your child eats affects their mood and energy levels, as well as health and growth.
Try to include all food groups, including:
Protein (eggs, lean meat and pulses) for repair and growth; carbohydrates such as pasta, bread and cereal for energy, fresh fruit and vegetables for vitamins and minerals; dairy such as cheese, milk and yoghurt that are all great sources of calcium for healthy teeth and bones.
If your child loves sandwiches then letting them muck in and help can make all the difference. Experiment with different types of bread from rye and sour dough breads, chapatti, tortilla, oat cakes and pita bread. Crackers also make a nice alternative.
Other fun ideas to keep things interesting include:
- Hummus or cream cheese - both can be packed in containers along with carrots or cucumber sticks to use for dipping.
- Turkey and cheese pita pockets with cucumber and salad.
- Quesadillas chilled and packed with chicken, guacamole or salad.
- Food on sticks (fruit, vegetables or meat kebabs). Young children should never be given sharp toothpicks.
- Spring rolls - rice paper wrappers or large lettuce leaves, filled with tofu, meat or fish.
- Deli meat roll ups - rolling sliced deli meat around cheese sticks, cream cheese and even vegetables can change the way your children think about lunch meat and greens.
- Cold pasta dishes - add tuna, sweet corn and some low-fat mayo, or cold meat and vegetables.
- Quinoa salad - mix with meats, cheese and veggies.
- Cottage cheese or squeezable yoghurts which are an easy option, and frozen yoghurt tubes also make great ice packs and typically thaw by lunch.
- Muffins or scones topped with fruit or with cheese for a savoury option.
- Fruit - tinned or stewed added to natural yoghurt.
Living in a hot climate means that it is vital that your child takes adequate fluids throughout the day and children are encouraged to drink frequently. Water bottles can be re-filled as required and they should be clearly labeled with their name.
Things to avoid
Lunch boxes should be nut-free to prevent allergic reactions from other children at nursery or school.
Avoid whole grapes for very young children due to the risk of choking.
Be careful with foods that contain moisture such as tomatoes and cucumber as these will quickly make sandwiches and wraps soggy.
Finally, make sure you use a good quality cooler with an ice pack and frozen water bottle to prevent food poisoning, and ensure your child’s name is clearly marked. In addition, the box should be washed and dried thoroughly after every use.