Lunch Box Tips
Encourage Healthy Eating
It is well documented that obesity is a growing concern in Ireland amongst both adults and children alike. While no one can eat 100% healthy all of the time there are many things we can do to guide our children in the direction of healthy eating – the simplest being to encourage nutritious school lunches.
Lunch Box Tips
- Variety is the spice of life! Keep an assortment of food in stock so that you can make different lunches – there is nothing worse than eating the same sandwich five days in a row!
- It can be a nice idea to bring your child shopping with you on a day you have plenty of time. They can help you pick the foods and will be more likely to eat what they chose.
- Thermoses give your child the chance to bring soup to school. Fresh vegetable soup is full of vitamins and nutrients! Insulated lunch packs are widely available in local toy stores and can be great to keep hot and cold foods separate. You can buy small freezer packs to keep beside yogurts and other refrigerated items to keep them cool.
- Keep plenty of fresh fruit in the kitchen for the lunchboxes. With all the different types of fruit available nowadays you are bound to find numerous fruits that your child will enjoy.
- If your child wilts at the sight of an apple try cutting it up into apple sticks. You can try this with most fruits and children can enjoy picking at them. You could adopt this idea to suit your needs, for example to encourage more dairy intake you could try cutting up some cheese into chunks or for a greater vegetable intake try celery or carrot sticks – great with dips!
- If your child likes sauces or dips you might find it useful to save mini packets of barbeque or sweet and sour sauce or some garlic mayonnaise or salsa. You can pop them in their lunch box for them to enjoy with fruit sticks or crackers.
- Try to alternate the type of bread you use for sandwiches. Instead of white, try wholemeal, wraps, pitta, bagels, crackers, rolls etc. If you want to a complete change suggest a cold pasta salad… a tasty source of high energy carbohydrates and nutritious vegetables, you can even throw in some lean chicken or turkey to include a source of protein! To prepare the pasta simple cook it as usual and add some olive oil when it’s done (this stops the pasta becoming sticky when it cools). When the pasta is cold you can add your vegetables and/or meat and/or sauces. Pop the salad in the fridge until school time.
- Shape up your Sandwiches! Children can be delighted with new shapes for their sandwiches; it can dress up a simple cheese sandwich to no end. You can use biscuit cutters to make the shapes or you can make sandwich “rolls”. To make the rolls flatten a piece of bread (with the crusts cut off) and then layer you fillings on top. Then roll the bread around like you would a pancake and wrap in cling film. Place in the freezer for half an hour, take out and cut into small circular mini rolls. They will go down a treat!
- Encourage your child to drink milk or water with their lunch, preferably milk as it is high in calcium – vital for growing bones. If your child is bringing juice for lunch try to choose 100% fruit juice which is not made from concentrate and has no added ingredients, especially sugar or other sweeteners!
- Remember that all foods can form part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. Pack your child’s favourite foods for special occasions such as his/her birthday or St. Patrick’s Day or School Trips etc.