One important rule when packing your child’s lunch box is to offer a healthy meal. An active child requires a healthy meal to keep them going. What is a healthy lunch, you may ask? A healthy meal should contain a balanced diet that is vitamins, carbohydrates and proteins.
It might not be easy for your child to adjust to healthy eating habits. You can encourage your child by packing similar healthy snacks for your day. You can also indulge the child in selecting what they want to have in their lunch box.
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Applaud your child whenever they select healthy snacks. Also, you can let the child have the less healthy snacks for the weekend or the evening meals occasionally.
What to include in a healthy lunch?
- Healthy foods helps improve concentration hence the child’s ability to learn.
- Promotes the child’s health and general well-being.
This article breaks down the categories of meals appropriate to pack for your child’s lunch to fit a balanced diet.
- A fresh fruit
- Crunchy veggies
- Carbohydrates snack.
- Protein food
In this category, you can pack foods such as boiled eggs, peanut butter, lean slices of meat.
These foods include milk, yogurt, grated or sliced cheese.
Milk or yogurt
A small bottle of milk or fruit yogurt in your child’s lunchbox is a healthy choice. Pack the dairy products while cool in an insulated lunch box to maintain the temperature.
Homemade packaged versions of cheese are suitable for the child’s lunch. Cheese is an excellent substitute for chocolate spreads.
Starchy foods include bread, a roll, fruit bread, muffins and cake, cereals.
Try out various types of bread, especially if the child starts to lose interest in sandwiches. You can switch with muffins, bread rolls, buns, flatbread, fruit loaf and crumpets and many others.
Muffins and cake
It’s best to make your cakes and muffins healthy by including more vegetables and fruits. You can try carrot, banana, pumpkin, sultana and zucchini.
Most bars are high in sugar though cereal bars may be a healthier option and good for the child’s teeth.
The best choices of fruits are either tinned or fresh fruits. Choosing dried fruits should be occasional as they are high in sugar and sticky. Moreover, dried fruit bars are low in fibre which is not a healthy option and also, because of their high sugar levels, when the particles stick to the child’s teeth, it causes tooth decay.
Vegetable sticks dipped or mixed with veggies such as carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and capsicum. Crisps and chips should best be for special occasions.
Fillings and dips
You can use vegetable fillings, cheese, grated carrot, peanut butter, lettuce, avocado, baked beans, chopped roast meat, chutney, sliced meat, egg and tuna.
You can try dips like yogurt, eggplant, cucumber, spinach, chickpea and caviar. Avoid spreads with high-fat content, chocolate spreads, honey or jams.
Remember to always pack a bottle of water for the child in her lunchbox.
What not to pack
Parents have no control over their kids during their lunch break. Therefore, one must consider what to pack and what not to pack. Such consideration saves your child so much trouble and gives them an easy time in school to keep them motivated.
Some of the foods you should avoid packing for your kids include;
- Messy food
Messy foods can be problematic for any child. Having the child wear the spill for the rest of the day can be disheartening and even embarrassing as the child grows older. Moreover, it will give you a hard time scrubbing the stains off the child’s clothes during the weekend.
Do not pack any foods with colors such as red from tomato sauce and ketchup to avoid such occurrences. Also, avoid drinks with bright dyes and do not apply too much mustard.
- Prohibited foods
As a parent, you ought to follow the school rules lest your child will face the consequences on your behalf. Whatever the school does not allow, do not pack for your child or else they stand a chance of going hungry or served with an alternative dish.
- Foods or drinks the child will have trouble opening
Kids have a limited lunch period; if they spend most of this time trying to open their food, they will not have time to eat. It may be impossible for teachers and lunchtime aides to go round opening for all children their lunchbox.
Avoid fruits and yogurt cups, bottles with caps that require a plastic ring to open, cheese sticks and a bag of chips.
- Foods that aren’t lunchbox friendly
Packing foods that can spill off the lunchbox will give the child a hard time sorting the mess and not eating what you had packed for them.
Moreover, packing foods that need to remain cold or hot will require you to use a lunchbox designed to maintain foods at the preferred temperature.
- Monotonous foods
Variety is what gives the lunch break spice. Keeping the child eating the same food repeatedly may make them tired and bored of the meal. Alternate the dishes so that the child may not lose the luster of their favorite food.
- Smelly or embarrassing foods
The lunchroom is a social space. It may be difficult for a child to navigate hence the need to make the child comfortable. The child may not have it easy to conform to the judgmental nature of any social setup; hence it’s better to avoid such situations.
- Foods your kids don’t like
Favorite foods may differ from person to person. Children are generally picky eaters. It’s not a wise idea to pack a surprise meal for your child. The meal might end up back in the house as your child opting to stay hungry.
You can indulge your kids if they return home with their lunch so that you might take notice of their dislikes.
Conclusion – Lunch is pretty much essential in the child’s backpack. Lunch maintains the child’s energy for the day’s activity. Having the right food packed for lunch is a bonus to keep the child motivated to attend school.