Healthy and Easy Lunchbox Ideas for Kids
Are you sick of your child arriving home with a lunchbox full of food that they haven’t eaten? Or digging through their backpack to find a squished banana or bruised apple buried under a bunch of schoolbooks? It can be extremely frustrating to prepare lunch for your child just to have it wasted and thrown out. In an ideal world, kids would love to have a lunchbox packed full of chips, lollies and chocolate bars. Although all these foods are arguably delicious, they should really only be eaten in moderation (sorry kids!). Day to day, it is so important to provide children with healthy foods that will sustain them all the way until home time.
When kids hear the term ‘healthy food’, they automatically assume that it is going to be gross. This is one giant misconception. You can still hit all the key food groups in your child’s lunchbocx and make it super tasty. To improve the chances of your child actually eating their lunch, get them involved in the preparation process. If they have some say into what goes into the lunchbox, you can guarantee that they will like everything. Our top tip is to try and target each of the key food groups, including grains, fruit and veg, dairy and protein. Top it off with a water bottle and your kids will be energised and ready to tackle the day! Read on for our healthy recommendations made easy.
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Grains are bursting with nutrients, such as B vitamins, minerals and plenty of fibre. In the long run, getting your child hooked on whole grains will reduce their chances of encountering negative health problems in the future, such as diabetes and heart diseases. A sandwich is, and always will be, a lunchbox staple! Choose a whole grain bread to make it a little healthier. The filling will ultimately depend on your child’s preference but one of my favourite choices is a classic ham and salad sandwich. If you want to make the sandwich a little more fun, try making it into mini sandwich sushi. You could also try using cookie cutters to shape the bread into fun shapes. What child doesn't want to eat dinosaur shaped bread?
There are plenty of fun snack ideas that tick all the health boxes too. Popcorn is always a win with children, as they usually associate it as a treat food. Little do they know, it is also not too bad for them! Just make sure to choose a plain flavour with little to no additives. Same goes with muesli bars- if you can find some that aren’t packed to the brim with sugar.
If your child finds sandwiches a little boring, jazz it up a bit by replacing it with one of the following:
- Marmite and cheese scroll
- Homemade sushi
- Hot Cross Bun
- Savoury muffin
- Toasted Sandwich
- Pita Pocket
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Fruit & Veg
Fruit and veg is filled with essentials vitamins and minerals that will help keep your child healthy. This is especially important in a school environment, where sickness spreads tends to spread like wildfire. When including fruit and vegetables into your child’s lunchbox, try and make them a little more enticing. Some ways to do this include cutting up the fruit or veg into easy bite-sized pieces and pre-peeling it. Throwing a full orange or apple into the lunchbox might be easier, but don’t be surprised if it comes home uneaten. Another handy tip is to include a dip or spread that might make healthy food seem a little more appealing. Hummus and peanut butter both go great with a variety of different fruit and vegetables. If you are stuck on ideas, here are a few of my favourite combinations:
- Apple Slices with Peanut Butter
- Carrot Sticks or Capsicum Strips with Hummus
- Celery with Peanut Butter
- Strawberries with Chocolate Dipping Sauce
- Homemade Kumara or Potato Fries with Aioli or Tomato Sauce
- Banana with Yogurt
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Dairy is an excellent source of calcium, which is important for bone health – especially in young growing children!
Yogurt is a favourite with children, available in a wide variety of flavours that will satiate the pickiest of eaters. Mix up the flavours during the week so your child doesn’t lose interest. The CalciYum flavoured milks are also a hit with children and super cheap to find at your local supermarket. Choose from chocolate, banana or strawberry. Another fun snack is cheese and crackers, which can be purchased already made or whipped up at home in just a few minutes.
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If you want to keep your child full all day long, be sure to include snacks that are high in protein. These foods digest at a slower rate than those high in carbohydrates, helping to avoid rumbling stomachs in between breaks.
A great choice for protein is roasted chickpeas- a healthy alternative to chips! These crunchy little guys are rich in protein, which is a great addition to the lunchbox. You can also sneak some protein into sandwiches in the form of chicken, tuna or salmon. Some kids are massive fans of a classic hard-boiled egg, which can be eaten on its own or incorporated into a salad sandwich. If you have some extra time on your hands, falafel bites can be a tasty protein-packed option.
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Start getting ready for back to school season with our back to school faves: