Pack a healthy lunch-punch
You should have two goals when packing your child's school lunch box: nutrition and fun.
Packing a healthy lunch box is one thing. Getting your child to eat its contents is another matter altogether.
Boxes of health
Eating fats and sugars in moderation, and consuming plenty of vegetables and fruits will reduce your child's chances of heart disease, cancer and stroke later in life, according to research. Try these tips for healthy lunch boxes:
Boxes of fun
- When buying dairy products for your child, choose low-fat variants. If your child is allergic to dairy products, look out for soya or dairy-free products.
- Instead of ham, salami or corned beef, try low-fat alternatives such as turkey or chicken.
- Always pack at least one serving of fruit in your child’s lunch box. Buy different types of fruit so your child has a variety to choose from.
- Sneak vegetables like lettuce, cucumber, tomato, green pepper and roasted peppers onto their sandwiches.
- Use whole-wheat or brown bread instead of white.
- Limit cookies, pastries and sweets. Pastries are extremely high in sugar and unhealthy saturated fat.
- Low-fat crackers are a much healthier addition to your child's lunch box than a packet of crisps.
Make eating lunch a fun experience for your child. Make her food look interesting and appetising and pack a little surprise as well. Surprises need not be sweet and sugary.
Try these cunning combos:
- Keep a range of inexpensive but colourful lunch boxes so that your child has a range of fun boxes from which to choose. Brightly coloured plastic eating utensils and cartoon napkins are guaranteed to brighten up her day.
- If bread is too boring for your little one, try other options such as pancakes, scones, rolls or muffins (buy them ready-made or make them in advance and freeze). A pancake filled with peanut butter is much more exciting than a peanut-butter sandwich! Also try bagels, pita breads, rotis and tortillas.
- Buy little plastic containers (such as plastic jelly moulds) in which to serve yoghurt or jelly. They are much more fun than ordinary containers.
- When you have the time, use a cookie cutter to cut cheese and bread into fun shapes.
What do you include in your children's lunchboxes? Do you hate the school tuckshop? How do you make their lunchboxes interesting?
- Banana splat sandwiches or banana hotdog. Mash a banana, mix it with peanut butter and spread on bread. Or serve the banana in a hot dog roll. Spread the roll with peanut butter, tuck in the banana and drizzle with honey.
- Pinwheel sandwiches. Cut the crusts off a slice of bread and flatten it out gently with a rolling pin. Spread the bread with the sandwich spread of your choice – such as fish paste, Marmite or cheese spread – roll it up and secure with a toothpick. Refrigerate overnight and remove the toothpicks the next morning. Another option is to roll up the sandwich using cling film and refrigerate overnight. Cut it into thin slices and add it to your little one's lunch box.
- Creepy crawlies. Make a spider sandwich. Cut out two round shapes from two slices of bread using a cookie cutter. Spread a filling (such as tuna mayonnaise, cheese spread or egg mayonnaise) on each half. Cut strands of liquorice into eight pieces. Arrange four strands on each side of the bread rounds to make the legs. Then close the sandwiches with the top halves. Cut an olive in half and remove the pip. Stick the halves onto the bread rounds using cheese spread to make the spider's eyes.