Preparing a healthy school lunch requires thought and planning. If you get the mix right – both with food choices that will be eaten and choices that are sustaining – then it can certainly help towards a brighter school day.
Ensure there are good choices in the cupboard and involving your child or children in decision making about what they are going to eat can be helpful – as long as their preferences are good choices.
There are five things that should go into the lunch box and if you can’t include both meat and dairy, make sure you choose at least one option from either of these groups.
These foods are carbohydrate based and therefore provide a good source of energy. Choices include:
- Bread, there are many options available
- Wraps, whole-wheat options are a good alternative
- Pita pockets
- Gluten-free bread
This is great source of protein and also an important source of iron.
Whether the protein comes from this group or the dairy group aim to include a protein-based food in the lunchbox daily to help ensure your lunch box energises your child.
Pre-packaged and sliced cold meat is a popular choice but it can be rather expensive for the amount you get and you don’t always know what you get.
A good alternative is to use meat cooked for dinner the night before, slice the meat up and use on sandwiches for school lunches.
Here are some options which don’t only make for a scrumptious dinner but are great cold and on sandwiches.
- Chicken breast or a roast chicken are great hot for dinner, refrigerate the leftovers and thinly slice once chilled for lunch.
- Roast beef makes for a perfect Sunday dinner, then chill it, slice it, and serve on sandwiches with some lettuce and cucumber.
- Meatloaf is a simply dinner, slice leftover meatloaf and serve sandwich style. This is a classic
- A cooked ham is not only good for Christmas lunch, it also makes a great alternative roast Sunday dinner, slice any leftovers and refrigerate to use for sandwiches.
If the thought of cooking roasts in the middle of summer makes you feel like melting – a barbecue with a hood is a great option for roasting meat.
Using your leftover meat from dinner for school lunches, saves money as you are buying meat in bulk which is cheaper and you know exactly what is in your sandwiches.
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit is another good source of energy and vegetables are great for vitamins. Try to include at least one fruit option.
Add sliced vegetables on the sandwich for some variety.
Dairy is a great source of protein and calcium which satisfies hunger and helps to repair the body.
Add a slice of cheese or cottage cheese to that meaty sandwich.
The other really important factor to remember is to make sure your child has a drink bottle.
This should be filled with water not juice or cordial.
Place it in the freezer the night before, so that it stays cold all day.
Having a lunch box filled with all these good foods will give parents peace of mind, and help children and their teachers have a good day at school.