How To Pack A Balanced Lunchbox
Packing a lunchbox is no mean feat – ensuring that your child is appetised by (and doesn’t come home with) the contents of their lunchbox, as well as ensuring it is nutritionally balanced, can seem an impossible task.
Here, we list our top tips for packing a well-balanced lunchbox to provide your child with enough sustained energy for both learning and play.
Ensure all essential food groups are represented
Children need a variety of macro and micronutrients across all of the main food groups in order to be at their mental and physical best. So, what types of foods should you be packing? Consider this your new checklist:
- A serve of low GI carbohydrates (wholemeal/wholegrain bread and pasta, beans, brown rice),
- One serve of good-quality protein (think lean meat, fish, lentils, beans, tofu or eggs),
- One serve of healthy fats (unsalted nuts or avocado),
- A high-calcium snack (low-fat dairy such as yoghurt, cheese or milk, tofu, broccoli),
- At least two serves of vegetables (one to two cups of leafy greens and colourful veggies such as tomato, carrot and cucumber),
- At least one serve of fruit (fresh or preserved, such as SPC’s 25% Less Sugar fruit cups).
Make room for a ‘treat’
As much as we’d love our children to eat healthily all the time, for most this is unrealistic. Packing a healthy treat not only keeps your child excited by what’s in their lunchbox, it’s also a great way to sneak in extra serves of fruit and vegetables.
Our tip? Avoid pre-packaged and processed snacks, and instead add healthy homemade treats such as vegetable muffins, beetroot brownie squares or banana bread [link blog article 2]. Get your children involved in creating these foods with you – it makes a fun, educational weekend activity, and they’re much more likely to look forward to eating something they have created themselves!
Mix it up
In order to ensure your child is getting enough variety in their diet, try to mix things up on a regular basis. This doesn’t need to be complicated, try small shifts first – for example, instead of making the traditional sandwich, serve up last night’s pasta, rice dishes or grain-based dinners, or leftover proteins with salad in a wholemeal wrap.
Another way to make a healthy lunch exciting for your child is to pick a theme for each week. For example, go Greek-style and prepare chopped cucumbers and cherry tomatoes and pack with tzatziki yoghurt and pita bread; the following week, try Mexican with a black bean tortilla, corn, lettuce, tomato and red onion salsa. Not only will there be an exciting surprise each week to keep your child interested in their lunchbox foods, but a great way to ensure colour and a variety of vitamins and minerals in their diet.