Trying to find inspiration to make your child eat a healthy and balanced lunch at school takes a lot of time and effort. You have to balance the requirements of what you would like your children to eat, with what your children wants to eat. Make it attractive to eat, whilst also trying to ward off the school lunch police!!
According to nutritionists, a balanced packed lunch should contain:
- Starchy foods. These are bread, rice, potatoes and pasta.
- Protein foods. These are meat, fish, eggs, beans and others.
- A dairy item. This could be cheese or yogurt.
- Vegetables or salad, and a portion of fruit.
Whilst this all makes for good common sense, it’s actually harder than it sounds.
I’ve discovered with my son Wriggler, through trial and error, that he is much more likely to eat food that takes little effort. Remember, they are on a time frame, they need to eat and get back out to play with their friends asap… the longer they spend eating the less time they have to play!
Here are my tips on making packed lunches that are fun, attractive and appetising!
- All great packed lunches start life in a fun, attractive lunch bag with matching drinks bottle. This year Wriggler chose Angry Birds (as did most of his friends!)
- Prepare lunches the night before. This gives them a cold start to the following day and therefore they remain fresher longer! and thus its one less thing for you to do in the morning.
- I make 2 slices of bread for sandwiches with either ham cheese or jam (on 50/50 bread). I make them into either small little squares or triangles, perfect for their little hands. Or you can be adventurous as I have in the past and made them Ben10 Omnitrix style, cut into a large circle and then triangles!
(if your child really really doesn’t like crusts, just cut them off, it’s not the end of the world is it? and… they are more likely to eat all or more of their sandwiches without them!!)
- No packed lunch is complete without a small bag of crisps or baked savory snack. Wriggler prefers Wotsits or Hoola hoops
- A Yogurt or Fromage-Frais. this gives them their dairy portion and tops up their calcium and vitamin D, to help keep their bones and teeth healthy.
- A pealed satsuma / clementine, or a little tub of grapes, a box of raisins perhaps.
- A chopped raw vegetable ie carrot or cucumber sticks.
(remember time is of the essence hence the peeling and slicing)
- Water bottle with some very very diluted (sugar free) juice in.
I’m all for making sure my little ones drink lots of water, but sometimes even I find it boring. I add a little juice to the water purely to add some flavor so they get a great tasting drink and I don’t have to worry about their teeth in the process.
- That’s the main criteria covered for their lunch… But, sometimes I like to add a treat. Previous experience tells me that little tiny (and I mean tiny) bags of say chocolate buttons get taken away by the lunch police and thrown away as do chocolate biscuits like breakaways or clubs, so I disguise this little treat in a bun or scone. A little cupcake / muffin with a few added chocolate chips makes them feel like they’ve had a treat and they’re more than likely to get to eat it!
This does all sound like a lot for a little one to eat. Most days Wriggler will eat it all but some days he only manages a few things. To make sure that he gets the energy he’s going to need for the afternoon from his food, I have an agreement whereby he must eat his sandwiches as a minimum and then if he’s not that hungry, 2 of the other options from his lunch bag. He usually picks his crisps and yogurt. He will then eat his fruit and treat on the way home from school.
How do you pack your little one up for school? do you have any tips to share?