Packed lunch fatigue!
Are you already fed up of thinking of packed lunch ideas and its only week 2 of term?
Read on for tips of how to create tasty and nutritious packed lunches that your child will enjoy!
When planning packed lunches I always advise parents / carers to think of the Eatwell Guide as a starting point. (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-eatwell-guide/).
This encourages a balance of wholegrain starchy carbohydrates, lean protein sources, a dairy / calcium source and then fruit/vegetables. Aim for a main starchy component eg wholegrain / wholemeal sandwich filled with either a lean meat source such as ham, cold roast meats eg beef, chicken or a grated cheese / cream cheese, or a fish such as tinned tuna / salmon. Non meat alternatives can include egg, cheese, hummus. To fill the sandwich include sliced salad items such as cucumber/ tomato / lettuce / roasted peppers or if your child does not like the fact some salad items makes the bread a bit soggy then chop them into sticks and put in reusable sandwich bag or Tupperware pot to keep fresh.
Bored of sandwiches? Try wholegrain bagels, pitta bread, wraps and oat cakes / rice cakes as alternatives - or cold pasta / potato / cous cous salads.
To accompany the sandwich, put a pot of vegetable sticks, including cucumber, carrot, red / yellow / orange pepper (not green as too sour) and cherry tomatoes.
Include a pot of yoghurt - try some of the varieties of tube / pouch yoghurts which state on the packaging they can be frozen to help keep the lunchbox cold. Some children's yoghurts can be quite high in added sugar therefore try and choose the more natural yoghurts flavoured with fruit puree. Whilst these still contain some natural fruit sugar fructose, this does not have quite the same effect on raising blood sugars so quickly and therefore isn't associated as much with mood/behaviour swings. Soya/ coconut yoghurts can be included as alternatives to dairy yoghurts, either as a change or if your child cannot tolerate dairy products. Most schools have a no nut policy due to allergies - therefore check whether they are happy for you to include coconut yoghurts.
Pack up some fruit -this can be fresh or dried, or a combination of the two. Berries in a Tupperware pot stay fresh until lunchtime. Frozen packs are a cheap way of including berries and available all year round, put into a pot when frozen and then they are defrosted and ready by lunchtime and they help to keep the rest of the lunch cool.
An apple sliced but held together tightly wrapped around its core in tin foil will not go brown. Try and ensure the fruit is easy to eat within the relatively short lunchtime period - we all know children would rather be spending their time running around playing with their friends than peeling a satsuma so why not peel it ready? Dried fruit should be served in the same portion as if it were fresh, so a small box of raisins or 2-3 dried apricots would be sufficient.
A small slice of homemade cake / muffin or a malt loaf / banana loaf bar / homemade reduced sugar flapjack can be included as sweet treat on some days, or a plain biscuit or small biscuit bar. Alternatively a small multi-pack of popcorn or rice cakes.
Always remember to include a drink - ideally water or a sugar free / no added sugar squash. Be careful of double concentrate squashes as these are not always diluted sufficiently and therefore can contain quite a lot of sugar per serving. Water should be available at school however a nice water bottle or carton of fruit water / bottled water may be more appealing.
Talk to your child about what you are going to put in their packed lunch and maybe ask for their help in putting together a packed lunch menu. Being prepared and having the ingredients in ready makes the whole process less stressful. I have found for fussy eaters having a taster box in the packed lunch is a great way to encourage children to try new foods with their friends in a relaxed no pressure environment. Children can then have sticker charts / reward charts for trying new foods on a daily basis.
For more support or if you are worried about your child 's diet then why not drop me a line and come along for 1:1 chat. Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via my website www.aegnutrition.com