Making sure your kids have a healthy and delicious lunch every day can seem quite daunting sometimes.
Follow our top tips and your children’s packed lunch will never be called boring again! We’ve also got loads of great packed lunch recipes.
- Do freeze bottles of water or cartons of juice overnight. That way you’ll keep other food cool and your child will have a delicious crushed-ice drink.
- Do wrap cut vegetables such as carrot sticks in damp kitchen roll to prevent them drying out.
- Don’t expect your child to eat sandwiches that are soggy by lunchtime.
- Do ring the changes. Who wouldn’t be bored by a ham sandwich every day? What about a pasta salad, a bagel or a pitta pocket? But let your child taste new lunch-box additions before they go to school with them.
- Do think about giving hot food in a wide-necked flask as colder weather sets in.
- Do talk to your child about their likes and dislikes, and why they might have stopped eating certain foods. Maybe it’s boredom, but it could be peer pressure.
- Do cut fruit up. Most children want quick, easy food. Pack a few wet wipes.
- Don’t leave it to the last minute. Try to prepare as much as you can the evening before to avoid extra stress.
- Do think about the foods a healthy lunch box should contain: a source of protein to keep kids alert, complex carbohydrates for slow-release energy, fat for staying power, and fruit and veg for vitamin and minerals. Other good examples are miniature cheeses, yogurt drinks, fromage frais, nuts and raisins, rice cakes, and breadsticks.
The expert’s view
Children tend to eat away from home more often as they get older. If your child takes a packed lunch to school, get her involved in planning a balanced meal that she would like to eat.
From Meals Without Tears by Dr Rana Conway, public health nutritionist