Planning Ahead is the Key to Lunchbox Success

December 4, 2016

 

Sometimes I find it hard to pack a balanced lunch for school. Mornings are usually pretty hectic in our house, so finding healthy lunchbox items and actually preparing them can be a challenge. I’m sure I’m not alone here – from talking to friends I understand the struggle is real for most parents.

To save time during those hectic weeks, every school holidays I sit down with the children and plan the menu for each term. Once we’ve worked out the menu, I cook enough for the whole term and freeze it in lunchbox portions. The school lunch menu often consists of a variety of different items like minestrone soup, spaghetti and meatballs, lamb hotpot, nasi goreng and nachos, just to name a few.

Have a few fresh ideas too

While this works for me, I know not everybody has the time (or a nanny!) So what do you do if the freezer is running low and there’s nothing in the fridge and cupboards? How do you make sure you pack a balanced lunch for your children when it’s the end of the week, and you haven’t had time to run to the supermarket?

As well as my pre-prepared lunches, I also have some quick and easy go-to meals to prepare fresh, like homemade sushi, chickpea and feta salad, and their favourite tuna, rice and peas. My kids get the occasional sandwich too!

Why a typical lunchbox can be a problem

Unfortunately, many children’s lunches consist of a sandwich with vegemite or jam, a packet of chips, a muesli bar or tiny teddies and hopefully a piece of fruit, but most likely a fruit bar. There are a number of problems with this, but the main one is the lack of vegetables and too much sugar. Just like many breakfast cereals contain a lot of sugar, so does the typical lunchbox.

Lunches need to be packed full of vegetables because dinnertime alone is not enough to get all five serves of vegetables a day. If you’re not sure what to put in there, remember the key to packing a balanced lunchbox for your children is to think of the five food groups and include something from each one.

How to Build a Balanced Lunchbox

Choose your Vegetables

+Canned beans like chickpeas or cannellini beans  +Carrot, cucumber, capsicum or celery sticks  +Olives +Cherry tomatoes  +Avocado  +Leftover roast vegetables

Choose your Grains (wholegrain)

+Bread  +Rice +Pasta +Noodles +Crackers +Corn on the cob

Choose your Protein
+Grilled chicken or homemade chicken nuggets  +Tin of tuna in olive oil  +Roast leftovers +Boiled egg

Choose your Fruit

+Berries  +Watermelon  +Apple  +Banana  +Pear  +Orange  +Grapes  +Pineapple  +Kiwi

Choose your Dairy (optional)

+Cheese (feta, cherry boconcinni, cheddar etc.) +Plain Greek Yoghurt with 1 tsp Jam

Optional (Little treat 2x a week)

+Oat and date slice  +Gummie lollies  +Mini banana and date muffin

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