It is incumbent on each of us to do the best for our children and raise them to recognize healthy food and eat a balanced diet. This can sometimes provide a challenge, as it is not always possible to supervise what our children eat, especially when they are out of our care during school hours.
Some schools have a fantastic track record and have a system for keeping an eye on your child’s food options while under their care, others merely promise healthy food options without the parent finding out what their child is eating. It is therefore imperative to ensure our children have access to healthy school lunches and a lot of this falls to the parent.
There are lots of different ways to ensure our children do eat healthily while at school, the main one is by providing them with a packed lunch. If you’re stuck for ideas on how to ensure your child enjoys healthy school lunches, ten ideas which may help you follow:
1. One of the easiest things that you can do to increase the nutrition your child has access to, is to ensure they have a piece of fruit in their packed lunch. Not all children enjoy fruit, but you might find that if they have a small portion of fruit salad and a yogurt, that your child (or reluctant teenager) will enjoy these much more than either one or the other.
2. Don’t slather your child’s sandwich bread in butter. Instead, use some reduced fat mayonnaise or salad cream which is far healthier and adds a touch of flavor too.
3. Why not add salad to your child’s Barney Bear sandwich? In fact, why not give the processed ham a miss altogether and use roast chicken instead? The roast chicken will be lower in salt than the ham anyway and taste much nicer!
4. A packed lunch doesn’t have to include a sandwich. You can encourage your child to take a salad to school with them with a sachet of their favorite sauce. They could even take some cooked meat along with them, although you might want to ensure that they have facilities to be able to keep their lunch cool in hot weather.
5. One of the easiest things to make is pasta salad. It’s tasty and easy to transport in a Tupperware lunchbox. All they need is a fork or spoon to eat it with. If you make enough it could last a couple of days, or why not take some into work with you too and set a good example?
6. Children like to be creative. Why not focus this talent in the kitchen and introduce them to some home made bread? My family regularly enjoys home baking, and demolish my husband's soda bread within hours of it coming out of the oven.
7. If you have finicky eaters, you might try to be a little devious. Carrots, celery and sliced capsicums (peppers) are fantastic for tiny fingers and can be shared with friends too! Why not make a cream cheese, cucumber and mint dip for them to dunk their favorite crudités into?
8. It can be hard for children whose parents don’t have a large income to see their peers with the latest fads, including smoothies. Fortunately, a smoothie can be improvised at home with the use of a blender, using your child’s favorite fruits and flavors.
9. Health bars are easy to create and allows your child yet another chance to be creative in the kitchen – involve them and let them pick the flavors they like. You can add dried fruit, nuts and a whole host of dried natural ingredients. You can make batches and put some in the freezer for another occasion which will save you time too.
10. In cold weather, your child might not appreciate a salad for lunch; especially if their friends are tucking into a nice hot meal in the school’s cafeteria. One way to combat this is by making them a flask of soup. Make sure it’s piping hot before putting it in the flask as you will want it to stay warm for a few hours.
Use these ideas for healthy school lunches and your child will feel healthier and happier. Children who eat nutritious meals are better able to handle stress.
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