It’s back to school time already and the attention for parents of the world has now turned to getting uniforms, shoes, stationary and all the other bits and bobs ready for another year at school for the kids. An important part of all this that often gets missed is the lunchbox, it is after all the most important part of getting ready for back to school – in my humble opinion. Why does this take priority? Because food is literally what the body functions on and school is a place where lots of activity is required. Brain power to stay focused on the task at hand and to comprehend all the new information our little people are learning as well as the physical side where they are often running around the school yard playing. As you can see a lot is going on here, so providing nourishing, nutritious foods is vital in giving our kids the best opportunities to learn and play at school.
Here are some tips and inspiration on nutritious back to school lunch box ideas:
- Provide foods which are as natural and unprocessed as possible. A good idea is to ask yourself, did this food use to swim, run, walk, hop, skip, jump or come from something that did or did it grow from the ground? This is the best starting place, as these foods contain an abundance of nutrients which support body function and health whereas foods which come from a packet are often refined and overly processed leaving them nutrient void and high in sugar.
- Keep it simple! It doesn’t have to be extravagant meals or complicated food combos, just real food presented simply. Chicken drumsticks, a boiled egg, a whole carrot, tub of cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers, ½ avocado in the skin, small capsicums, left over dinner, small tub of sunflower or pumpkin seeds, ham off the bone freshly sliced, whole pieces of seasonal fruit, chopped full fat block cheese, steamed broccoli and cauliflower florets, tinned tuna/salmon/sardines. These ideas are just a matter of popping into the lunch box and going – can’t get any simpler.
- Preparation is key! It’s safe to say that not every child out there would be happy munching on a whole carrot and chicken drumstick, I totally get it. This is where getting creative comes in, but do understand this requires an element of time and preparation, perhaps it’s spending a couple of hours one afternoon a week to get some things together. You could try savoury mince meat balls, zucchini slice, homemade muesli bars, homemade dips such as hummus or guacamole, whole baked sweet potatoes ready to be stuffed, pre chopping veggies to pair with the dip (or even easier make use of the pre-cut vegetables available in the fresh produce section of supermarkets). Make everything in bulk too as these can all be frozen and taken out to defrost the night before ready for the lunch box.
- Keep the contents cold using an old age ice brick or small frozen water bottle vs frozen juice poppa. While poppas are based from fruit, unfortunately they are a concentrated form of sugar and contain as much sugar per serve as soft drink, not a good idea to keep the brain power going.
- Get creative and seek help. Kids thrive off things which are interesting and playful, getting creative with food by making it into funny shapes or silly faces, having lots of colour when they open the lunchbox and getting them involved with packing their lunches are all ways to keep kids engaged in there food experience. If getting creative is not your thing or you still have no idea where to start don’t be afraid to seek help. We are blessed in this day and age with information at the touch of a button so use this to your advantage, Google or Youtube ‘nutritious kids school lunch box ideas’, speak to other mums as they might have some great ideas or see a nutritionist who can guide you one on one in implementing these changes.
These tips are intended to spark a fire within parents to see the importance of providing nutritious foods in school lunch boxes and also to show how easy it can be. As parents the number one thing we want for our children is to see them grow into healthy, happy beings and the reality of this is that adults/caregivers are fully responsible in providing this opportunity as best we can through the foods we choose to give our kids, including in the school yard.
To get your further reading started check out the links below:
For other healthy family recipe ideas, check out Jess Cheney Nutrition .