There’s a battle going on that won’t be on the news tonight, yet mums and dad around the world know it all too well. I’m talking, of course, about the battle of the lunchbox.
Every parent knows the importance of a nutritious lunch for their child’s health and development. Not only is a healthy lunch important to keep children concentrating at school, it is also essential fuel for children’s growing bodies and minds. Most parents who send their child off to school with a packed lunchbox try to fill it with a balanced meal every day.
Unfortunately, while they’re at school and away from our eyes, there’s no way to know if that healthy spinach salad will end up in their tummies or in the bin! And let’s be honest, most kids would grab a small pack of chips over an apple any day.
If you would like to turn the tide of this daily lunchbox battle, then read on for some tips and tricks on how to put nutritious goodies in your kid’s lunchbox that they will actually eat!
What should go in the lunchbox?
Firstly, let’s take a look at what should be taking up the precious space in the lunchbox.
The key ingredients that our bodies need are protein (e.g. chicken, eggs, meat, fish and tofu), good fats (avocado, olives, oily fish) and carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potato). Include something from each of these food groups every day and you’re off to great start!
But don’t go throwing it all in willy-nilly. A good way to segment the lunch space is:
The main lunch item + a nutritious snack + fruit + water.
Now you know what food should be included and how their lunchbox should be made up. But the real question is, how do we get this from the pantry into their tummies? Follow these three tried and tested measures and your child will be sure to gobble up their next school lunch.
Let them choose
Just as adults do, children love to have a say in things, especially when it comes to food! By giving children a say and letting them choose what exactly will be going into their lunchboxes, they are more likely to eat it.
Of course, some limitations should be imposed as, given full authority, children would most likely cram their lunchboxes with biscuits and lollies. You can avoid this by letting them choose from within a set list of food.
“Would you prefer grapes, apple slices or a banana tomorrow for your fruit?”
“How about mains? Do you want delicious chicken or an amazing avocado salad?“
By doing this, you’re essentially letting your child choose which healthy, nutritious lunch items they will be eating every day. And hey, who wouldn’t want to eat something they picked themselves!
Change it up
Variety is the spice of life. Although a healthy sandwich might be a quick and easy fix for your child’s main meal, even the best sammie will become boring (and remain uneaten) if it’s what they get every day. I’m sure you would not want to eat the same lunch every day, so why would your child?
Which brings us to the second tip: if you change it up, they will eat it up. When it comes to variety, even little things can go a long way! Your meal plan includes two pasta dishes this week? Why not make one spiral noodles and one macaroni? Already had chicken avocado salad? Why not lamb avocado salad?
Changing it up daily will keep their packed lunches interesting, and a child is more likely to eat ‘Interesting’ over ‘boring’ any day.
Make it fun
Variety isn’t the only way to keep their lunches interesting, however. The last and perhaps best trick is the most obvious yet requires the most thought.
Make it fun! Want to turn a boring apple into a fruity friend? Buy some ‘sticky-lickits’ online and cover it with edible eyes, ears and mouths!
Kids not touching their pasta? Perhaps animal or alphabet shapes would bring a smile to their faces. Lunchbox bland and uninviting? Why not cover it with comics and stickers. Feel free to get artistic yourself and draw them some funny pictures for their lunchboxes.
There are lots of ways you can turn a healthy yet boring lunch into one that will make your child smile and eat it up – the trick is to get creative.
And there you have it, a few tips and tricks that will turn that nutritious packed lunch into fuel for your child, not a mouldy mess at the bottom of a bin. By letting them choose, changing it up and making it fun, you will be sure to win the battle of the lunchbox this year!