Healthy Lunchbox Ideas
It’s the age old question: if a school lunchbox is carefully prepared and sent off to school with one’s child, will it actually return empty that afternoon? (Or more importantly, has it actually been eaten, swapped for Jimmy’s Smiths crisps or the contents simply piffed in the bin?).
There are enough worries as parents but what to send along to school for your munchkins is up there with the worst. The main concerns are: is the food healthy enough to sustain their active brains and bodies all day; is it easy enough to prepare in our already busy lives; and, will they actually enjoy eating it?
As a child who regularly received the Vegemite sandwich, apple and muesli bar combo over the years, I am amazed and green with envy of the lunchboxes that some children take to school these days. As a primary school teacher I am obviously privy to what the average child is lugging in for lunch each day: some are on the super creative and healthy end and others are stuffed with pre-packaged foods. Most fall somewhere in between.
Wherever you’re at, here are five items you may want to consider packing in your child’s lunchbox every day:
- Fruit(s): fruit contains valuable fibre and nutrients but the majority is naturally high in sugar. Nonetheless, seasonal, fresh fruit in its natural form is always preferable to sugar-laden packaged foods. Dried fruit contains more sugar than their fresh counterparts and are a less desirable option as they can damage teeth but sometimes when that’s all that’s left in the pantry, it will do. Here are some current seasonal, fresh fruit ideas – obviously serve it in a way that is preferable to your child, whether as is, chopped, peeled, with yoghurt, in a fruit salad and so on.
- Vegetable(s): Include at least one vegetable in your child’s lunchbox because we know how packed full of nutrients they are. Run with whatever vegetable your child likes and have them try out new things weekly so you can hopefully add to their vegetable list. It may be something you hadn’t considered like frozen peas or capsicum strips with Greek yoghurt. Once again, sometimes the way you serve it, (with nut butter, tzatziki, or on toothpicks, for example) may be the difference in whether your child tries it or not. Examples include: Oven baked homemade pumpkin fries, oven baked homemade potato chips, grilled zucchini or baked as chips or homemade kale chips.
- Protein and/or dairy: The rising rate of allergies can sometimes make packing protein or dairy difficult, especially if a classmate is anaphylactic or your school is nut free. You may have to think outside the box a little but it is important to persist until you find something your child likes as protein not only keeps tummies full for longer, it also helps your body repair cells and create new ones. Some ideas include: Boiled egg, greek yoghurt (alone, as a dip or with mixed berries), leftover meat from dinner, ham, salami, nut butter, trail mix, cubed cheese, quiche, frittata & zucchini slice.
- Wholegrains and cereals: Whether you are a fan of grains, gluten and the like, some form of a carbohydrate can be another addition to a lunchbox which adds variety and fuels your child’s seemingly relentless energy. From the humble sandwich to pasta, sushi rolls or crackers; choose what suits your family’s lifestyle and tastes including: Sandwich (wholegrain/sourdough etc), wraps, crackers, savoury muffins, Pasta (in thermos or as cold salad), Sushi, Onigir, corn chips. pancake, pikelets
- A healthy treat: Personally, I like to have something to look forward to eating during my day, so how can I expect my child to be any different? And while the word ‘treat’ may conjures up negative connotations, it certainly doesn’t follow that the treat has to be unhealthy. Usually homemade is better because you are probably more aware of what it contains but there are snacks available that won’t compromise your children’s health if eaten in moderation.
Cake (banana, carrot etc)
Head to The Organic Place website to peruse the seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables that were outlined above as current lunchbox options.
Here are some pantry items we sell in our online store that you may want to consider adding to your shopping list this week and putting into smaller portions for lunchboxes:
- Pana Chocolate
- Green Grove Licorice (with or without milk chocolate coating)
- Cobs Organic Popcorn
- Lotus Organic Banana Chips
- Thomas Chipman Original Potato Chips
- Thomas Chipman Organic Corn Chips
- Lotus Organic Cocoa Nibs (for trail mix and muesli bars)
And some spreads and dips for wraps or sandwiches:
- Douglas Park Blueberry/Strawberry/Raspberry Jam (for pikelets, scones and on sandwiches)
- Global Organics Organic Mustard
- Mayvers Organic Tahini
- Kehoe’s Kitchen Cream Cheese range
- Kehoe’s Kitchen Sauerkraut range
We are also now selling Yumbox Panino Lunchboxes which has a four compartment tray and can fit sandwiches, wraps or salads. Best of all, it is leak proof.
And to make your own healthy lunchbox foods, head to the recipe section of our website for the following back to school lunchbox ideas:
- Zucchini Slice
- Easy Banana Choc Chip Muffins
- Carrot Cake Bliss Balls
- Homemade pizza dough (for scrolls or pizzas)
- Beetroot Brownies
- Zucchini and Corn Fritters
- Vegetable Tiddly Oggy
- Apple and Carrot Cupcakes
- Kat’s Life-saving Frittata
- Fully Loaded Bruffins
- Zucchini Slice
- Mini Quiche
- Sausage Rolls
Image credit: Yumbox Instagram! Make sure you have a look at their website for more healthy ideas.