School’s back…and that means evenings and mornings are suddenly a lot more hectic. Taking the time to pack a decent lunch for every member of the family is not an appealing idea for tired parents at the end of the day, but there are a lot of benefits to it.
Firstly, you know what’s going in tummies, and you know what’s coming home so it’s easier for you to make sure that everyone is eating the right amount during the day, and that it’s good quality food. Secondly, it saves money. There’s no denying that making your own at home is much cheaper than popping to the shops for lunch.
Finally, if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle but still have cupboards full of easy-to-pack snacks for the kids, it can be too tempting to snack on them yourself. The less mini cookies in the house, the easier it is for all of you to choose healthier options.
To make it easier, here are our top tips for the perfect packed lunch.
- Prepare in advance
Plan for the week and then you won’t over buy or under buy and end up stuffing crisps in to fill the void when you run out of food on a Friday!
- Don’t always think ‘sandwiches’
They are handy and familiar, but 5 a week for 39 weeks of school can get really boring. Try rice or pasta salads; pita bread and hummus; cold chicken; sushi if they’re a fan – anything easy to eat and store.
- Get the kids involved
Plan and prepare with the kids and they are more likely to get excited about eating it. If they are surprised on the day they might not be so keen!
- Look for inspiration
There are hundreds of websites (at least!) dedicated to creating healthy lunches for kids. They’re designed by parents who know how hard it is to make interesting, healthy food children will actually eat, so they provide realistic ideas for you.
- Make the snacks interesting
Popcorn, sliced veggies, fruit, cold meats, cheese, carrot muffins, fruity flapjacks…the possibilities are endless so don’t get stuck on snacks.
- Don’t forget a drink
Don’t go to all of this hard work then rely on your child (or grown up!) to make a healthy choice of drink from a vending machine. If possible provide them with something sugar free so they don’t get a big buzz and mid-afternoon crash, not ideal for learning!
- Get creative
Star shaped cookie cutters for sandwiches and veggies; drawing smiley faces on bananas; having fun with colours – there are plenty of ways to get your kids excited about what’s in their lunchbox, so give it a try.