Simply, Healthy Lunch Ideas for Busy Parents
Coming up with enticing, healthy food for your child’s lunch box day after day can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you have a fussy eater.
It’s important for children to have a balanced diet, but most parents don’t have a lot of time to prepare school lunches. It’s tempting to rely on the canteen, but unfortunately much of the food available at school is processed and high in sugar and fat.
These quick, simple lunch ideas are perfect for busy parents.
Kids need about two serves of fruit a day, but they tend to get bored when they’re presented with the same things repeatedly. Instead of popping a banana or apple in their lunchbox, mix it up with an enticing fruit salad. It takes just a few minutes to chop up the fruit, and you can also add a tub of low-fat yoghurt to go with it, providing calcium for healthy teeth and bones. Canned and dried fruit will add variety.
Fruit smoothies are another ideal way to add fruit to your child’s diet. Make the smoothie mixture at home and store it in plastic freezer jam containers. The great thing about these containers is that they also act as a lunch box cool pack.
According to research, 56% of primary-aged students and 80% of high school students in NSW are not eating the 4 – 5 recommended serves of vegetables daily. There are many easy ways to include vegetables in your child’s lunchbox. You can add things like snow peas, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, celery and baby cucumbers for kids to snack on during the day.
Tubs of mixed salad are also a great idea. There are many different types of salads to keep it interesting, such as Mediterranean tuna salad, Greek salad and roasted vegetable salad. It’s a good idea to plan ahead each week so salad ingredients can also be used on sandwiches and wraps. This will ensure your child gets the required serve of vegetables and ingredients aren’t wasted.
Breads and Cereals
The carbohydrates from breads and cereals give kids energy to get through the day and wholegrain products are best. While bread and wraps are great for providing energy and fibre, they can get boring.
To add variety, include noodles, pasta or rice in your child’s lunch box. Fried rice or a lunchbox pasta salad are easy to whip up, especially if you’ve planned ahead and used the ingredients from dinner. Multigrain crispbreads and crackers can be livened up with interesting toppings such as veggies and hummus, mango and avocado or egg salad.
Protein is essential for growing bodies, but processed sandwich meats have been linked to cancer and should be eaten in moderation. Alternatives to processed meats include salmon, tuna, chicken and lamb. Meat substitutes such as tofu, beans and lentils will keep kids feeling full for a long time.
Kids need to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated, especially in the warmer months, but many children are not drinking enough, or their main fluid intake comes from sugary soft drinks.
To entice your child to drink water, make sure they always have a chilled water bottle in their lunchbox. Add cucumber and frozen berries for variety. If you limit soft drinks at home and stick to water, your child will be more likely to maintain healthy habits when away from home.
With a little thought and organisation, you can prepare healthy lunches for your child every day.