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Making kids lunch boxes healthier
Healthy lunch boxes
As parents, it is up to us to ensure that our children eat healthily. Thanks to people like Jamie Oliver, schools have made big improvements toward making school meals much healthier. But what if your child prefers to have a packed lunch? Trying to find food that is a) healthy and b) that kids like, can be a headache.
What should go in the ideal lunch box?
- one carbohydrate food
- one portion of fruit
- one portion of vegetables
- one dairy food
- one protein food
- a drink
To ensure that your childs lunch box never becomes repetitive and dull, you need to plan a varied menu each day. Children require between 200 and 300 calories at lunchtime to maintain their energy levels throughout the school day.
Lunch box menu ideas
Cheese and tomato sandwich
small carton of milk
Bowl of tuna pasta with sweetcorn
bottle of water
Cheese and wholemeal crackers
pure fruit juice
2/3 slices of chicken
small bowl of salad - lettuce, cress,cucumber, grated carrot
handful of raisins
Tortilla wrap with ham
small carton of milk
Choosing one portion from each of the five food groups is important in ensuring that your child receives a balanced meal at lunchtime. Here are a few ideas for each of the groups:
rolls, bagels, bread, rice, pasta, mini pitta bread, tortilla wraps, pizza slices and wholemeal crackers.
lettuce, cress, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, celery, peppers and sweetcorn.
apple, pear, cherries, mandarins, clementines, grapes, peach, kiwi fruit, pineapple raisins and other dried fruits.
individual pots of rice or custard, cheese, yoghurt, fromage frais.
Tuna, ham, sliced chicken, sliced turkey, eggs, cold meat, vegetarian sausage, chicken drumsticks
Milk, milkshake, Fruit smoothie, pure fruit juice, water, yoghurt drink.
NB - Peanut butter is a good source of protein, but always check with your childs school, some do not allow products containing nuts if any pupil has a nut allergy.
What about treats?
Treats such as biscuits, cakes, crisps, pancakes, cereal bars etc should be given as an occasional treat. As long as children do not have a treat as a daily occurrence, then this is fine. Some schools differ - my daughters school has a policy that no chocolate or crisps should be packed in their lunchbox.
There are many different types of lunch boxes on the market for boys and girls, some with their favourite characters or football teams and some incorporate a cool bag. Most schools tend to store them in a cool place to avoid food becoming warm during the morning.
Personally, I think it is a good idea for children to choose their own design of lunch box - my daughter seems to eat more of her lunch now that she has a "kitten" box. Strange!