For most parents, this is a task that we don’t look forward to. How do we make it different and exciting every day, for both our children and ourselves?
There are also so many foods that are not allowed to be included because of allergies.
Here is a guide to make packing lunchboxes a bit easier:
Base your lunchbox around protein. Protein containing foods help keep us fuller for longer and helps control blood sugar levels. This impacts on concentration levels, and while our children are at school, we want them to be at their best to absorb knowledge.
Divide the week into days and assign a different protein to each day.
Assign a color to each day. It will be what color vegetable you offer and makes it easier for you to provide variety. Variety is critical as it eliminates taste fatigue, but also it ensures that we get an array of micronutrients versus only getting a few key ones.
Next, assign a contrasting color to your vegetable color for fruit. This will make the lunch box more appealing, especially if you have a picky eater. Don’t always use the same fruit for color. Such as a red apple and red strawberries.
Sunday: Chicken + Green tender stems and Orange Navel
Monday: Cheese + Red Cherry Tomatoes and Blue Blueberries
Tuesday: Beef + White Cauliflower and Green Pear
Wednesday: Egg + Purple Beetroot and Yellow Banana
Thursday: Turkey + Orange carrots and Red Strawberries
Add in a dairy option. It can be in the form of either milk or yogurt. Offer full cream options and plain flavor. Please don’t offer flavored kinds of milk, or yogurts as these contain unnecessary sugars which are not needed. If you want to flavor yogurts, instead mix in seasonal fruits.
Carbohydrates are added last. The reason for this is that they are only needed if our children are eating lunch at school. If they will be home for lunch and the lunch box is being used as a snack box, then they are optional. If you are choosing to add carbohydrates add in wholegrain and high fiber options to help control blood sugar and concentration levels.
Water. Use the water as an ice pack as well. It will defrost by the time they need to drink it.
For younger children, I always encourage giving snack type foods, rather than foods that make up a full meal. Children want to play and don’t want to spend too much time during their break eating. You can also play with shapes more and make the box more enticing to a picky eater.
Jordana Ventzke Smith
Dietitian and Child Nutritionist