Our goal is to help you pack a healthy lunchbox easily, with food your kid will actually eat. In the back of my mind when I start thinking about lunches (thinking and doing happen at precisely the same time mind you), I aim to hit 5 basic guidelines:
- Make a rainbow
- Fill them up
- Building blocks for strong bodies
- Pack Nude Food
- Keep them happy
We believe that following the above 5 basic guidelines regularly will help you pack a healthy lunchbox that your child will actually eat. As much as we love gorgeous stainless steel bento boxes brimming with instagrammable goodness, we also know that keeping it simple, and easy, is the key to maintaining everyone’s enthusiasm.
Below is a quick overview of these guidelines, and in coming weeks, we will be posting practical ideas for each of the categories.
Make a rainbow
An oldie but a goodie. When packing fresh fruit and veg, give a variety. Not just because it looks cute in their lunch box, but because a variety of colours means a mixture of vitamins and minerals and also keeps it interesting for the kids. Don’t be afraid of raw veg, and if your kid often eats the sweet fruit, but leaves the veg, try alternating days where you have just veg, making the choice for them. If your school does Crunch & Sip, this is the perfect opportunity for a full serve of veg.
We can choose fibre-rich fruit and veg, as well as aim for combinations that maximize vitamin and mineral absorption (see our eating the rainbow article, coming soon). But there’s no need to look too far, or over-think it, just stick to what you can get your hands on.
Fill them up
Carbohydrates get a bad rap for us grown-ups, but kids’ energy output is so much higher than that of an adult sitting at a work desk all day. They need the right kind of carbs to keep them moving. And if they are the sort of kids that are constantly hungry, this is where we fill them up. So we need carbs that are low in GI – which is a bit tricky as it’s not all that obvious so check a listing. We are talking cereals, breads, rice, pasta. It’s important here to choose carbohydrates that offer big bang for buck so make them do double duty and choose high fibre options – wholemeals are a must. Try oats, brown rice, or grains like barley or farro mixed in with tiny cut vegies and popped in a flask.
Other ways to fill them up is with proteins like meat and legumes. Seems like these might be hard to incorporate easily into a lunchbox, but we have a couple of dinner recipes that slip right into a flask for lunch the next day which we will share with you soon.
Building blocks for strong bodies
Proteins, iron and calcium provide the building blocks for just about everything in kids’ busy little bodies. Both plant and animal based proteins are great, especially in certain combinations. Switch out their sandwich for a flask stocked with dinner leftovers for a change, or add a dip to their crunch and sip. Dairy is an easy way to provide daily calcium requirements but there are other ways too if your child doesn’t tolerate dairy.
Pack Nude Food
This requires a leap of faith and the right lunchbox! But don’t worry, with our help your sandwich will be kept in sandwich shape and we promise, you and your kids can survive without itty bitty packets of things. Environmentally and financially, Nude Food is a win. But it also forces you to stock their lunchbox with food that is less processed and more from the heart. Packaged foods from the supermarket are often too big, or at least not adjustable for every appetite. Packing your own is perfect for pitching portion sizes just right.
Keep them happy
It can’t all be alfalfa sprouts and 1000 grain bread. If you get the portion size right (and its much smaller than you think!) and opt for more natural goodies, a treat is a great addition to a healthy lunchbox, and certainly helps with the “that your kid will actually eat” part of our goal. Call it bribery if you like, or let it be in the name of keeping things interesting, but creating a positive vibe between your child and their lunchbox really helps. The key is to keep it small – it really only needs to be tiny. Treats tend to be the easiest thing for us to pack, and often end up being the filler that is eaten in place of the good stuff.
As always, don’t overthink things, and keep it simple – that way you might be able to sustain your best intentions. We will be posting lots of ideas to fill each of these categories so stay tuned….
Love Ali x