Our 10 Top Tips for a Nutritionally Balanced Lunchbox
The Nutritionally Balanced Lunchbox
The new school year has begun and I’m sure all parents begin with the best intentions of sending their little kiddies off to daycare, preschool or school with the healthiest of healthy packed lunches and hope for them to eat and enjoy all its yummy goodness. Finding the right balance of nutrients, flavour and even some tasty treats is the key to ensuring your kids enjoy their food and have the energy to learn, grow and of course play.
Good nutrition and a varied and balanced diet is not only important for children’s growth and development but it’s also essential for leaning, concentration and mental performance. Good quality carbohydrates are important for long lasting energy, protein helps keep them full, omega-3 fatty acids are excellent for brain function and B vitamins, iron and zinc are also essential for energy.
Here are our 10 top tips:
1. Firstly, start the day with a healthy breakfast– it’s not called the most important meal of the day for nothing. Children who eat a nutritious breakfast have improved concentration and mental performance.
2. Water is the best choice of drink for everyone and is important for keeping hydrated. Pack frozen water bottles or add ice cubes to their drink bottle if your child prefers colder water – especially on hot days. Try to avoid juices, cordials and soft drinks. Kids don’t need them – here’s why.
3. Make sandwiches using wholegrain breads or wraps for sandwiches. They provide longer lasting energy than white varieties helping to keep children satisfied. Our savoury muffins and pick n mix fritters are great nutritious alternatives to sandwiches and can be made with wholemeal flour and a variety of vegetables.
4. Don’t forget protein. It’s important for satisfying hungry little appetites and helping kids to feel full, allowing them to concentrate on learning and remembering. Lean meat slices or meatballs, chicken, ham, canned fish, eggs or cheese fillings are great on sandwiches. Yoghurt tubs, regular or flavoured milk, cheese slices or sticks, nuts (depending on age and school rules) or wholegrain muesli or nut bars are also good protein sources and great for snacks.
5. And don’t forget the veggies either. They provide a variety of important nutrients and adds fibre and bulk to their diet. Depending on the age of your child, pack cherry tomatoes, carrot, capsicum or celery sticks and even snow peas as snack options and include salad fillings on sandwiches such as lettuce, grated carrot, cucumber.
6. Fresh fruit is a better option compared with dried fruit, juice or processed fruit snacks. Tip: Most kids prefer eating cut pieces of fruit rather than a whole piece. Adding lemon juice to cut pieces of fruit will prevent browning ensuring they still look fresh and tasty.
7. Include healthy treats. Being consistent with healthy eating at home and a healthy balanced packed lunchbox means there is room for treats. This is an important part of normal eating. It also helps to prevent your children “swapping” their lunch for the colourful prepackaged foods that other children may have included in their lunchbox.
8. Portion sizes are important. If you do decide to include home made or packaged snack foods remember portion size is key. Avoid cafe style muffins that are as a big as their head or large packets of chips. Instead choose mini muffins, small size wholegrain or muesli bars or chip packets and even fun size chocolate bars.
9. Variety is important for good nutrition. Kids love routine and may go through phases of wanting the same sandwich or same lunch day in and day out. Try not to stress. Offer your child the option of trying new sandwich fillings or offer variety through different fruits/vegetables and snacks during the week.
10. Keep it all safe. Remember food safety remains important for any travelling lunchbox. Choose good quality insulated lunch boxes and inclue a frozen ice brick or water bottle to keep foods cold – particularly if you are including flavoured milks, yoghurts and meat etc. on sandwiches. We have some excellent tips on safe food preparation and storage.
These tips were featured in our Autumn/Back to School issue of our Magazine. To find out more about our popular magazines or to purchase online see the links below:
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