When preparing school lunch for your child, know his likes and dislikes, pay attention to the food pyramid, and include lots of tastes and textures.
Packing a nutritious and tasty school lunch can be quite a challenge. Children want to look forward to their meals, and often that means eating the sugary options and forgetting about the more nutritious choices. Usually, portions of fruit and vegetables never make it out of the lunch box, or worse still, end up going straight in the bin.
Here are some options for school packed lunches that are nutritious, diverse, and tasty and will help keep your child’s interest.
Protein-Packed Sandwiches for School Children
Some unexpected, tasty sandwich combinations:
- Peanut butter and bananas or raisins
- Hummus and crunchy veggies such as carrots, peppers, and cucumbers, stuffed into a pitta pocket
- Using a cheese spread, such as Laughing Cow, to add flavour to meat-filled sandwiches
- Tomato sauce, grated cheese, and cooked meat in a pitta is a pizza sandwich.
- Vegetables, cooked rice, and teriyaki chicken in a pitta is a stir fry sandwich.
Bread is not always the only choice for holding in sandwich fillings. Bagels, wraps, muffins, crackers, rice cakes and even lettuce leaves are also feasible options. Also, have fun with the sandwiches. Cut the sandwich into a special shape for a young child or buy mini bread rolls and pack two or three mini-sandwiches for a change. Sometimes a child may even enjoy making his own sandwich. Pack some crackers, some cheese, and sliced meat, and let your child be the chef!
Nutritious and Colourful School Lunch Sides
Young children will enjoy inventing part of the meal. Put together a unique trail mix that is made specifically for your family. Take your child to the grocery store and invite them to choose options for the mix. A trail mix can have cereal, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, granola or coconut. For older children, send fruit or vegetable slices with a yoghurt-based dip or a small (well-sealed!) container of honey for dipping.
The following are options for colourful finger foods, definite crowd-pleasers for most kids:
- Fruit salad
- Carrot or cucumber sticks and hummus
- Pitta chips with black bean and corn salsa
- Rolled-up slices of turkey and cheese
- High fibre cereal with a few chocolate chips mixed in
Dessert doesn’t have to be off-limits. A few biscuits, a pudding cup, animal crackers or even a small carton of chocolate milk can be a fun treat at the end of a meal.
When preparing your child’s school lunch, keep in mind the major foods that should be included. Three servings of dairy per day will promote bone growth, fruits and vegetables for necessary vitamins and minerals, and protein to support general health.