Back to school What to pack in the school lunch box

Back to school What to pack in the school lunch box
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 31-03-2023

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The holidays are over and it's time to head back to school. This can be an exciting time for many children as they look forward to seeing their friends again and sharing all their holiday tales. This can also be a time of anxiety for many parents at the thought of having to pack the dreaded school lunch box each day. To help you out I have compiled a list of various nutritious snack options to include in the school lunch box.
Good nutrition is very important for school-going children as this is a time of physical growth and development as well as a time of immense learning. The school lunchbox is an excellent opportunity to provide your kids with nutritious lunch and snack items to help fuel their day. Remember to try and keep the lunchbox simple. Don’t surprise your kids with food items that are new to them- try out any new snacks, salads or sandwich combinations with them at home first, this will increase the likelihood the food will be eaten and not simply brought home untouched. Kids are also more likely to eat food if they are involved in the preparation of it. It can be as simple as giving them a choice between two sandwich fillings or having them help you out in the morning by choosing some vegetables to be cut into sticks or choosing which dip they would like to take with them. If your kids love to bake why not get them involved in baking some wholegrain fruit muffins or mini vegetable quiches on the weekend to freeze and have through the week?

Suitable school snack box options:

1. Wholegrain biscuits/crackers with guacamole dip (mashed avocado mixed with diced tomato and red onion with a dash of lemon/lime juice). Wholegrain biscuits provide an excellent source of slow-burning carbohydrates to help fuel kid s learning and activity throughout the day.

2. Vegetable sticks ( capsicum, carrot, celery, snow peas, beans, cucumber) with hummus dip (either homemade or store-bought) or mashed avocado/guacamole.

3. Fruit kebabs- this is such a fun way to include fruit into the lunchbox. Get your children involved by letting them choose the fruit they would like on the kebab, you can also get them to help thread the fruit pieces onto the stick. Use cookie cutters to cut the fruit into fun shapes to make it even more interesting and exciting. Cover in a little lemon juice and store in a zip-lock bag (with the air squeezed out) to prevent the fruit from going brown.

4. Natural or Greek yogurt with assorted berries/fruit pieces and nuts/seeds (check the school s policy on nuts). Cinnamon and vanilla bean paste are other yum flavor variations to add to the yogurt. Kids have high requirements for calcium and many don’t meet their daily requirements. Dairy foods are an excellent source of calcium (and also a very good source of protein) making them terrific foods to include in a daily lunchbox.
5. Fill a small container with cut-up apples or pears with a few slices of cheddar cheese or babybel cheese. Cutting the fruit into bite-sized pieces (which is easy for kids to handle) increases the likelihood the fruit will get eaten at school and not bought at home. You could also fill a small container with berries, cherry tomatoes, mandarin wedges, grapes, nuts or seeds.
6. Petite-sized homemade fruit or savory muffins. With this option try to use wholegrain flour and include either fresh fruit or vegetables in the mix.
These are just a few ideas to give you some inspiration going into the school term. A lot of kids like variety with their foods so try to include different options each day with lots of different colored fruits and vegetables (remember lots of different colored vegetables=lots of different nutrients). Also include a frozen water bottle (with BPA free plastic) or ice brick to keep the lunchbox cool throughout the day.

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