Teachers Inspecting School Lunch Boxes…
Let’s get these healthy Lunch Boxes Sorted!
by Dietitian Desi Carlos APD AN
As a working mum, I fully understand the quick option of adding a couple or more packaged items into my child’s lunch box. Time and tiredness may be your issue, or perhaps you are fed up of the constant fighting with your children, about lunches that continually get returned home in the afternoons.
So why do kids return food in their lunch boxes and why are they fearful of showing the teacher their lunch?
Allow me (as a Dietitian and a mum) give you a rundown on some simple back to school nutrition ideas that will keep the teachers from confiscating food and help your kids enjoy their lunch.
5 back to school nutrition tips for teacher-approved lunchboxes!
1. Start the day off right.
I know this is cliché but please make sure your kids have a solid breakfast before they leave the house in the morning. If they don’t eat, their appetite can be suppressed until they come home in the afternoon and eat you out of house and home… creating terrible habits of eating high sugar, high fat processed meals and then missing dinner because they are so full.
Pick a cooked breakfast option – bread and protein or a high fibre cereal with milk and fruit.
2. Understanding that the teachers are on your side.
Often the school will send you a copy of their lunch box policy and supply you with ideas on suitable snack and lunch options. Most, of course, are non-specific and do not health the 99% of the population where both parents/guardians work, or perhaps other factors influence time for meal prep.
The school policy is to help your children with their performance at school, concentration and behaviour – all of which, believe it or not, improves all these things at home too.
3. Get the kids involved!
Get the kids involved in lunch box prep. Include them in shopping for their lunch box and preparing snacks and meal for their lunch box.
4. What comprises a healthy lunch box?
The main fare is usually a sandwich but you can change that up to include bread/ wrap/ Turkish bread/ baguette/ bagel/ or crackers
+ add your protein – lean meat, chicken, turkey, tinned fish, baked beans, cheese or nut spread (if your school allows it)
+ add salad – lettuce, spinach leaves, cucumber (if your kids complain about veggies making their bread soggy- add them separately as veggie sticks – snowpeas, cucumber, carrot, celery, beans, cherry tomatoes)
If your kids just don’t like this idea or are over the sandwiches by midterm – try leftover food in a thermos (pasta, rice, potato and the main meal of soup, curry, or stew).
Then add your snacks:
Fruit – fresh, dried, or tinned (in natural juice)
Yoghurt or cheese (Babybel or moo cheese) or milk
Healthy treat – this deserves an idea on its own…
5. Healthy Treats – in a pack for ease
- Crackers (rice or wheat) with dip or cream cheese
- Vitawheats with Vegemite and cheese or Vitawheat chips
- Healtheries rice and potato snacks
- Air-popped popcorn
- Babybel, snack size cheese, stringers or moo cheese
- Dried fruit sticks (the ones with no added sugar)
- Naturally good healthy muesli cookies
- Party rice crackers
- Happy snack company – roasted fava, split chics and chickpeas
And then you can modify some homemade favourites (get the kids involved)
- oat biscuits and banana bread and other muesli slices – use yoghurt instead of butter and banana or apple sauce instead of sugar. They taste great… just chewy instead of crunchy.
And then there is Afternoon Tea:
Make sure they finish what they haven’t finished in their lunch box in the afternoon.
Fruit, dairy and bread and cereal in the afternoon.
Once they have had all of this … consider giving then a treat of their own choice (perhaps after they have done some activity – ride bike, swim, play basketball, walk).
I hope I’ve given you some ‘food for thought’ on how you can wrangle this whole back to school nutrition thing, both in school and at home.
For more detailed and individualised nutritional advice for your children please contact Tree of Life Nutrition 3891 6199 or email [email protected]