As we near the end of the school holidays, our thoughts are turning to back-to-school food. And one common challenge for many parents is how to create a healthy packed lunch. Finding the balance between ‘fun’ and ‘healthy’ isn’t easy. But with a little creativity, you can turn a boring packed lunch into a nutritious option the kids will love.
GIVE SANDWICHES A MAKEOVERWhen it comes to sandwiches, they must be quick to make, delicious to eat and provide the energy boost kids need to prevent a mid-afternoon slump.
Protein will keep kids feeling fuller for longer so base sandwich fillings around high-protein ingredients such as cheese, boiled egg, sliced ham or slices of cold meat left over from your Sunday roast.
Traditional sliced bread might be the staple of most packed lunches but why not mix things up using different breads such as wraps, pittas or bagels? And for picky eaters; a star-shaped or heart-shaped cutter can transform a boring sandwich into something they won’t be able to resist.
But why not ditch the sandwiches completely and try something new such as a homemade pasta salad or rice salad? It’s a great way to introduce a variety of healthy ingredients into their lunch.
SOMETHING ON THE SIDE
Forget crisps, there’s a whole host of options for kids to nibble on that will provide the nutrients they need. Try offering cubes of cheese, sliced grapes or halved cherry tomatoes as an alternative to salty snacks.
A yogurt is a great way to provide kids with one of their servings of dairy each day. Pop it into the freezer while you’re preparing the rest of the lunchbox, then grab it just before you leave the house to keep it cool until lunchtime.
Kids can often surprise us and while we expect them to crave sweet flavours, many love chopped salad peppers, cucumber, carrot sticks, and olives. Why not serve these with a pot of hummus for dipping?
If you find kids struggle to eat a whole fruit such as an apple, pack a tub of fruit salad instead. Make a batch and it will last in the fridge for a few days. There’s plenty of variety available from the Independent range including nectarines, peaches, blueberries, plums, bananas, apples, grapes, oranges and clementines.
It’s easy to get stuck in a lunchbox rut but we hope our suggestions have given you inspiration to try something new.