“Mum! What’s for lunch!”
That regular cry can make some parents feel challenged and exhausted.
Coming up with imaginative and nutritious lunchboxes five days a week is a hard ask for anyone.
So why not get a little help.?
At Village Fair Regents Park, we have all the ingredients you need to be a hit in the playground.
And don’t forget, studies have shown that a healthy lunch can improve a student’s performance at school.
The trick, of course, is to make lunches and snacks so appealing that your kids don’t resort to junk food to fill the gaps and they’re eager to eat healthy, delicious foods that fuel them without unhealthy fats and sugars.
Food and wellness coach Helen Hawkes suggests you start by considering that children need to eat from every food group – grains, vegetables, fruit, proteins and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, fish and nuts and seeds) every day. Then get imaginative!
Instead of plain sandwiches, think about making ham, tomato and egg roll-ups using a soft wholemeal bread that’s packed with healthy grains. Regents Bakehouse has some delicious choices in loaves and rolls and you can find ham and other sliced meats at Zac’s Continental Butchery.
Brown rice can also form the basis of a chicken salad that includes stir fried veggies like carrot, onion and peas or you might like to use it to make your own sushi, or teach kids to as well.
If you’re time poor you can pick up sushi ready-to-go at Nara Sushi.
These main lunch dishes can be teamed with a fruit snack – an apple, an orange, a banana or some berries and a protein snack, such as a low fat cheese on wholegrain crackers, for morning or afternoon tea.
A small tub of yoghurt is another good snack alternative as it can help fill their dairy needs as well as provide them with good gut bacteria if you buy a quality product that is low in sugar. For children who are lactose intolerant, choose a coconut variety.
Don’t forget that leftovers from dinner – spaghetti bolognaise, a stew or casserole, or a stir-fry – also make great lunches. Again, add a fruit and protein snack.
To keep your children hydrated and ready to learn, buy them their own stainless steel water bottle and forgo plastics. They can fill this with filtered water, but skip the juice. Children are better having the whole fruit that contains fibre too and is less kilojoule dense. Mineral water is also good and it can have a little flavouring. Make sure you check the label to see it is low in additives, sugars and other nasties.
If you’d like to give your children a sweet treat, pick up some ripe bananas from Drakes Supermarket, where you can also get plenty of the other ingredients mentioned in this blog, and make banana muffins.
Savoury muffins, with zucchini, carrot, cheese and egg are also a popular snack and contain essential protein and vitamins and minerals from vegetables.
A slice of leftover pizza from Pizza Capers could also be a good lunchbox filler, if you team it with a healthy salad and make sure it doesn’t contain high fat meats such as salami.
Don’t forget too, to ask your children for ideas about what they might like, and even help them prepare and pack lunches, so you can teach them lifelong healthy habits.