The last two years of the Covid19 pandemic have proved that taking care of our health is better than managing sickness. The seeds of healthy eating are sown in childhood and the perfect lunch bag is the best way to inculcate healthy eating habits.
But this is more difficult than it sounds. This is because children are fussy eaters and it can be challenging to put together a balanced, healthy lunch in the form of something your children will actually eat! It also has to be attractive, fun and appetising so the child will now bring lunch back home, or worse, throw it away. Your skills as an innovative and creative parent can be put to the test!
Follow these pointers to make sure packing the perfect lunch bag for your child is not a chore…
IDEATE WITH THE CHILD
It is a great idea to involve children in planning and preparing their lunch bag. This is an opportunity for them to learn about healthy, clean eating and to make independent and yet informed decisions. Let your child know about the options they have in healthy food and drinks. Once this is done, help them create a shopping list so they feel that they have chosen what they want to eat, independently. Another thing that can be done is to involve the kids in preparing their lunch boxes - let them clean and chop. The younger ones can simply wash fruits and vegetables, while the older ones can do some easy and basic cutting and chopping. They will definitely be more interesting in eating what they have packed.
CREATE A LUNCH BOX MENU
Every weekend, sit down with your child to first prepare a menu of what all they would like to eat for lunch on every day of the week. This will allow you enough time to prepare for and make healthy school snacks for them and avoid packing in junk food and processed food at the last minute when they want something in particular. Amidst hectic weekday schedules, prepping over the weekend is a great way to help keep us on a healthy eating track. This is just about being organised and prepared in advance.
BUY THE RIGHT LUNCH BOXES
It is very important to buy functional, not fancy. Tiny hands can find it difficult to open lunchbox compartments. So when you go shopping to buy kids accessories and products, keep in mind if they will be able to open and navigate their lunch box properly. You can buy lunch boxes and kids items online, or juniors brand baby products in stores - but make sure that they are made of food-grade material and are non-toxic.
INVOLVE KIDS IN PACKING LUNCH
Encourage your children to be a part of packing lunch. This one single activity has so many benefits. Not only will they learn good habits at an early age, but also understand the importance of shouldering responsibilities. It is a great way to bond as a family too. Get them to pack some of the food with you. Let them add the apple slices, cucumbers or grapes into their lunchbox. Yes, you can focus on packing the cutlets or sandwiches and other food. If you are a working parent with little time in the morning, kids can help pack their and your lunch boxes the night before. Display a buffet of food items - fruit, vegetables, nuts etc. so you only need to cook the kebabs or cutlets fresh in the morning and do not waste time. Yes, for toddlers and younger children, finger foods that do not need cutlery are always a good idea.
AVOID PROCESSED FOODS
It’s so easy to fall into bad habits and go with processed foods when it comes to feeding your kids at school. Don’t fall into this trap, take the time and get into a routine of making healthy lunches for your kids. Your kids are growing and are constantly on the go and they need real whole food that is fresh and nutrient-dense.
Getting your child to stay hydrated is crucial. Include a water bottle that can be refilled (if need be) in the perfect lunch bag for your child. While plain water is the best, the occasional flavoured and unsweetened fruit-infused waters are also great.
School lunch boxes should be a balanced meal. They should have fruits, vegetables, proteins, vitamins and calories - so important as part of the balanced diet needed for the proper development of children.
Kids can be very fussy eaters, but you can show them that you are the parent boss! Just be innovative and creative in putting together healthy lunchboxes that they will love eating! The Elli Junior community is a great place to find ideas on good parenting. Stay connected with us!