With school holidays beginning, it's a lovely time to not have to worry about lunchboxes.
But of course, there's next term. And the one after that.
Before long, most of us will be once again dreading the daily lunchbox grind.
You no longer need to fret, as we’ve got all of your lunchbox goals sorted here, which will make your kid the envy of the school-yard.
So what makes a balanced lunchbox you may ask? Easy, remember the five finger rule…
Perhaps one of the easiest groups to satisfy your child’s taste. I always like to use what’s in season as it’s cheaper, more easily accessible and also exposes your child to an array of different fresh foods throughout the year.
Great options: Strawberries, berries, sliced apple or pear, banana, kiwi fruit, watermelon (I like to cut into “pizza” shapes), grapes.
Try these: Mandarin segments, sliced orange, goji berries, plums, avocado (mash it in a sandwich or serve in little cubes) or figs.
One of the not-so-easiest groups to fulfill, but certainly not impossible. Again, try to use what’s in season as the veggies will taste better and look more appealing to your child.
If your child refuses to eat the veggie portion of their lunchbox, my best advice is DON’T GIVE UP! Stick with the 5 finger rule in every lunchbox. You never know, they may surprise you one day and try something new, plus they’ll never have the chance to discover they like something new if it’s not there for them to try.
Great options: Sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes (try the gold & red varieties to mix it up), carrot sticks, capsicum or celery sticks.
Try these: Steamed beans or snow peas, lettuce in a sandwich, corn or cabbage.
Top tip: Save time and prep your fruit and veg in bulk on Sunday night. Place in airtight containers in the fridge and store until you need them. You’re less likely to skip the healthy stuff if it’s easy and ready to go.
We all know dairy is important for growing kids' bone development. Luckily these days there are so many yummy dairy lunchbox choices.
Great options: Yoghurt (I prefer the no-added sugar varieties; check the label!), cheese slices, cream cheese in a sandwich or as a dip.
Try these: Sliced cheese served with crackers, melted cheese on pita bread and cut into pizza shapes, shredded cheese or yogurt drops.
Top tip: During the warmer months, try freezing the dairy items the night before. Or try freezing a wet sponge, cover in a zip lock bag, and pop it in the lunch bag; it’ll help keep everything cool until lunchtime.
This one's easy! Of course the trusty sandwich ticks this box, but don’t stop there; get creative. There are a heap of grain options which your kids will love.
Great options: Sandwiches, crackers, rice cakes (we love the Table of Plenty variety), croissants, bagels, English muffins, cooked pasta or spaghetti.
Try these: Dry Weetbix, pita bread rolls, sushi sandwiches (put spread on bread then roll with a rolling pin and cut into sushi portions), raisin toast, pretzels or corn chips.
This is probably one of the toughest groups to think of different options, allow us to help….
Great options: Left-over lean meat, chicken breast or sliced sausage, hard-boiled egg, low-sodium deli meats (this is a handy option but use in moderation due to the high sodium content).
Try these: Chia seeds (I like to sprinkle chia seeds in a jam sandwich), French toast, Fav-Va Beans (The Happy Snack Company has an amazing range of delicious high-protein snacks) or a tuna sandwich.
Top tip: Try sprinkling some nutritional yeast into the egg when making French toast. This will boost the protein value.
And of course, make it fun. Be sure to take notice of your kids' school lunch policy, and if permitted occasionally, add in a little treat like a homemade cookie or snack bar, especially if you want to reward their great lunchbox performance.
Try these ideas:
Invest in a few sets of lunchbox accessories, such as mini sticks, forks and spoons. This will not only make your lunchboxes more fun and your kid more likely to eat it, it will also open you up to many more food options. A mini spoon will allow your child to easily eat a tub of yoghurt or cream cheese, and a mini fork will encourage them to try those cubes of avocado. Consider making a veggie kebab using a stick; this is so easy to prepare plus your kids will love it!
Use stencils and cookie cutters to make sandwiches and fruit into different shapes like stars or hearts. You’ll be surprised what your kid will eat when it's shaped like a star!
Also experiment with different food options like hummus so they can enjoy their veggie sticks in a different, more interesting way.
Written by Alison Said
Originally published on MamaMia.com.au on 27th June 2021