Guest Post by Kate Di Prima
As a dietitian and a mum, Kate is well aware of the lunch box hurdles parents face every day. With a bit of forward planning and a few tricks and tips, you can pack nutritious lunch boxes that will get eaten.
- Pack a protein rich sandwich whenever possible – red meat (beef and lamb), fish, egg or legumes (like baked beans) all make great fillings – to deliver a boost of essential nutrients – particularly iron – needed for concentration and being active. Plus protein power will help keep children satisfied for longer
- If your child has recess late, swap lunch foods with recess foods. By 11.30am most children will be starving and a protein rich sandwich will help sustain them for the rest of the day
- Use your child’s favourite dinner for lunch – use bolognaise in wraps spread with light cream cheese or spread of choice to make yummy roll ups. Great for left-over taco mince making mini burritos.
- Blend leftover vegetables and meats with stick blender, add a little ricotta or creamed cottage cheese to make delicious and nutritious dips to be eaten with vegetable sticks or crackers. Using left-overs saves time, money and ensure an iron and nutrient-rich meal to help boost concentration and avoid the afternoon energy slump.
Always pack Fruit
- Fruits need to be small or chopped to appropriate size
- Freeze chunks of fruit to make a refreshing frozen treat at recess – and to help keep lunchbox items chilled
Encourage them to go for the good stuff first
- Don’t ask your children to be mini-nutritionists.
- Especially for smaller children and those starting school:
- Use coloured dots to help identify recess and lunch
- Use gold and silver stars to identify which foods to eat first
- Kids like kid sized portions that fit easily into small hands
- Mini bake at home rolls are prefect for pint-sized sambos
- Don’t overfill sandwiches. A perfect student lunch might be a small roll spread with hummus and filled with finely sliced left-over meat from last night’s dinner
Sliced cold roast or corned beef or left over lamb chops deliver a nutritional boost of iron to aid afternoon concentration
- Chose an appropriately sized insulated lunch box – ideally with a zip for little hands to open easily
- Avoid ‘tackle box’ style lunch boxes – which encourage kids to over-eat and can make choosing the best foods for them a challenge. Kids will always go for the quick to eat salty and sweet snacks over the carefully created sandwich.
As weather warms up parents fret about keeping lunch boxes cool
- Freeze a low fat milk drink, low fat yoghurt tub or freeze fruit cubes - along with an ice brick - this will keep contents chilled
- Make sandwiches, muffins, scrolls etc a week ahead and freeze. They will be deliciously fresh at lunchtime and will help keep contents cold
- Invest in an insulated lunch boxes - with zip
- keep food fresh and protected in reusable plastic containers
Kate is an accredited practicing dietitian in Queensland with 20 years experience. She runs 2 private practice clinics and provides corporate consulting services to many companies. The author of 2 cookbooks, lunchbox cards and co author of 2 self help books, she is passionate about the health and nutrition of families. Kate has two children: Jack aged 10 and Rosie aged 7.
More some of the lunch box recipes from Kate, click here: Family Dinner and Lunch Box Ideas.