I’ve been making lunches for my son for just over a year and I can see the difference in his energy at the end of the day with different foods. Fresh foods, balanced ingredients, thoughtful baking the night before, means he’s a happy smiley (chatty!) kid.
It’s a big learning experience for me, especially as my kid can be sensitive to wheat, nuts and anything processed. So I keep it fresh, simple and as tasty as possible.
Here are 6 big lunchbox tips I’ve learned so far…
1. Kids need fat
Every single day, kids need fat in their meals. And it’s actually quite easy to get it in their lunch. Try a tin of tuna (sounds lazy, but it’s really genius), avocado on rice crackers, coconut oil in bliss balls, frozen full-fat yoghurt with berries, butter on seed crackers, and nuts (if your school allows, try to make them activated almonds – and not too many – so their tiny tummies digest them easily).
2. Plan ahead
The morning before school is so much easier if you have food ready to go. Stash a little banana bread, muffins or yoghurt in the freezer; don’t forget leftovers like pasta bake, homemade pizza, rice and vegetables, or Mexican corn cakes from the night before; and keep a stocked, health pantry so you can whip up a trail mix or bliss balls if you need to.
3. Keep it fun
My son absolutely loves it when it favourite meals turn up in his lunchbox. I’ve found sushi isn’t as hard as I thought, you just need leftover rice (I use half rice and half quinoa), some nori sheets, a few strips of cucumber and capsicum and a little soy sauce and you’re good to go! If you know what your child will happily devour, see if you can find a recipe that makes it easy for you to make in the morning.
4. Think outside the wheat box
Not all little bodies can handle wheat or gluten too many times a day, so try to mix it up a little (or skip it altogether). Rice crackers, buckwheat pikelets, coconut flour cookies, rice noodle wraps, organic popcorn, and flourless frittatas are all great ideas to try.
5. Skip the plastic
Last year I started off with plastic tubs and drink bottles, but the more I read about the chemicals that leak from plastic (even BPA-free products) into foods, the more I backed off. We now have a range of stainless steel boxes, mini thermoses and drink bottles. They’re readily available on eBay, and although they’re more expensive they last longer and are a great investment in your family’s health.
6. Go packet free
It’s so tempting to grab mini packets of snacks to fill up their lunchboxes, but not only do mini packets – five days a week – contribute a lot of waste, there are usually ingredients inside that aren’t great for kids. Even organic popcorn can contain sugar, salt and other additives. Your best bet is to make it at home, and do it on the weekend or the night before school when you’re already cooking.
I hope that helps with your school mornings and gives your kids a big energy boost throughout their day.
Kris Franken is a soul foodie, health writer, and blogger at Lady Frankie; she fancies herself a bit of a wellness warrior, spirit-driven mama, natural therapies junkie, impulsive cook and real food advocate. She has an insatiable drive to inspire others to eat ridiculously well, live with soul and purpose, write with passion, and embrace a blissful and conscious life.