It's been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
While that may be true, lunchtime is a close second. Especially for kids at school. But does it really matter what your child eats?
Yes, it does. In fact, research shows that kids who eat healthy foods at school are better learners. So if you want your kids to have a great start in life, a good diet is essential!
But how can you pack healthy lunches for school? And what do good kid lunches consist of? Read on for the 411 on school lunches.
Fun Healthy Lunches for Kids—Essential Tips
Whether you pack your kids lunch yourself or you opt for a healthy school lunch delivery company, it can be hard to plan good kid lunches. Before we start looking at recipes, read these tips on how to balance nutrition with what your child will actually eat.
A Balanced Lunch
When making healthy choices for lunch, balance and creativity are both essential. In each meal, try to include something from each of these food groups:
- Dairy (or a substitute if vegan)
A balanced diet will give your kid all the nutrients they need for a great day at school.
When making healthy lunches for kids to take to school, it doesn't have to be a plain old sandwich. There are so many different things you could experiment with.
Finger foods are extremely appealing to children. For instance, try creating a tasting plate with mini turkey roll-ups, some carrot slices, and hummus. Finish off with a handful of grapes (for dessert).
An extension of finger foods is to allow them to DIY their own lunch. For example, fill up their lunch box with healthy pizza ingredients, and let them put it together themselves. All you need is some shredded cheese, turkey, wholemeal tortilla slices chopped into triangles, and some tomato sauce.
Say Hello to Leftovers
When planning good kid lunches, find out what your child actually likes. Using leftovers from a successful meal is a great way to save valuable time and brainpower!
For example, if they loved last nights roast chicken and vegetables, pack some for their lunch the next day. Or if they gobbled up the homemade meatballs from dinner, put them in a wholegrain bun for a lunchtime sandwich.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Whatever you decide to make for your kid's lunch, pack properly. Use ice-packs to keep foods cool, and a thermos to hold warm food. Use a variety of containers to pack different food types.
This will ensure the food stays safe and fresh.
Healthy Lunches for School
Now you've got the basics in mind, time to check out some simple recipes. They definitely beat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, both health-wise and on the taste scale!
1. A Classic Sandwich Twist
While fun healthy lunches for kids aren't ALL about sandwiches, it is a quick meal to make for your little one. But instead of giving them white bread filled with something unhealthy, try something a bit more unique.
For example, pesto and boiled egg sandwiches on wholemeal bread. Or egg salad sandwiches using scrambled eggs mixed with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. Another tasty option is avocado and tuna salad sandwiches.
To mix it up a little, cut them into bite-size pieces and serve them on a kebab stick.
2. Wrap It Up
Another bite-size healthy choice for lunch is to use wraps instead of bread. Chop them up into small pieces so they become like little finger foods.
Try deli turkey with lettuce, tomato, red pepper, and shredded cheese. Or try a hummus and vegetable wrap for a simple blend of tastes. You could even turn the classic BLT sandwich into a wrap.
3. Use Your Noodle
Use your noodle and make an Asian-inspired lunchbox. Mix vermicelli noodles with thinly sliced veggies, such as carrots, celery, and cucumber. Top with roasted chicken strips and peanuts to enhance the flavor.
4. Say It with Salad
When you're planning healthy choices for lunch, salad is always a good idea. But a few green salad leaves won't cut it. You need to mix it up a little.
For instance, try whole-wheat pasta mixed with white beans and vegetables. Or try bow tie pasta with chopped strawberry and mint leaves. It might not seem conventional, but your kids will love the zingy taste.
5. Go Crackers!
Another alternative to bread is to use multigrain crackers. You could butter the crackers with sunflower seed butter and supply a variety of toppings. Such as swiss cheese wedges, turkey strips, salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, and apple slices.
Another option is using pretzels instead of crackers and a low-fat dip.
6. Any Sides with That?
Of course, even if you've given your kid the best lunch ever, they may still appreciate some sides. Here are some healthy examples that will surely be a hit:
- Corn on the cob
- Raw veggies and fat-free dips
- Sliced fruit
- Boiled eggs
- Cubed cheese
- Granola bars
And don't forget to add a little non-edible treat, such as stickers or a love note. This will encourage them to keep up their healthy lifestyle, while other kids around them are munching on sugary snacks.
7. Don't Forget Dessert!
No meal is complete without something sweet to finish it off. Of course, throwing in a few Oreos might be tempting. But try to stick to something more wholesome.
For example, greek yogurt with strawberries, homemade ginger cake, or dried fruit. Just use your imagination!
Think Outside the "Lunchbox"
Yes, when packing healthy lunches for school, you can't fill the lunchbox with salad leaves and expect your little one to enjoy it. You need to think outside the "lunchbox" and wow your kid with tasty treats that are good for their health.
Now you've upped your game at lunchtime, what's next? There are so many aspects to good parenting, after all.
For more suggestions on how to give your child the best start in life, take a look at our blog and other fantastic resources found on the menu.