A lunch box packed with nutritious delicious food will help your kids and you too, to have the energy needed to get through the day as well as to ensure you all get the goodness needed to keep fit and well every day.
If you struggle to come up with ideas for what to pack that your kids will actually eat – help is at hand. Here is a guide to help you build a healthy lunch box and examples of lunch box combos you will all love!
Building the lunch box:
Include some carbohydrate rich foods for brain fuel. Ideally look for high fibre, wholegrain options where possible.
- Wholegrain bread, wholegrain crackers, wholemeal pita bread/wraps, pasta, rice, quinoa, starchy vegetables like potato and kumara. Some bite sized wholegrain cereals can be great as a snack too.
Add some protein packed foods – these will help your kids and you to feel full, as well as provide goodness needed to help your kids grow and develop.
- Lean meat, chicken, fish, egg, tofu, pulses (e.g. chickpeas blended to make a hummus), cheese, cottage cheese, nuts/seeds (if they are allowed at your school), yoghurt, low fat milk.
Fruits and veggies – packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants vital for good health and immunity.
- Salad veggies stuffed into a sandwich, pita bread or wrap. Veggies in a frittata, raw veggies like carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber or capsicum. Mini cooked corn on the cob.
- Fresh fruit chopped into bite sides chunks/wedges or mini pots of fruit packed in juice.
Water and/or low fat milk – a must have with every lunch box to help you all stay well hydrated.
You can also include healthy snacks in the lunch box too such as healthy homemade baking (e.g. Apple Bran Muffins), popcorn made without added sugar or cereal bars without too much sugar.
Here are some fantastic lunch box combos:
- Wholemeal pita bread or wrap with hummus, shredded chicken and grated carrot, a few slices of cheese, apple or pear chopped into bite sized chunks (if needed), plus mini bran muffin or small cereal bar if needed.
- Individual frittata made with veggies of your choice, a slice of cheese sandwiched with wholegrain crackers, handful of grapes and a low fat yoghurt.
- Pasta salad with tuna and sweetcorn, a boiled egg, chopped carrot sticks and a handful of cherry tomatoes, handful of nuts with 2 dried apricots or a cereal bar.
- Wholegrain bread sandwich with avocado and either a slice of ham/shredded chicken/tuna or salmon with lettuce or sliced tomato. Mini corn on the cob, strawberries and a cup of low fat milk (make into a reusable bottle – must be kept near chilly block in the lunch box).
Remember: Always pack a chilly block or a frozen bottle of water with the lunch box to keep things cool and the food safe.
By Claire Turnbull. NZ Registered Nutritionist, AUT / Millennium Institute. For more information about Claire, visit her website: www.claireturnbull.co.nz