Lunches can be a challenge for many of us parents; as they need to be premade and portable; yet they also need to be tasty and nutritious as well as being easy to eat and easy to eat quickly.
Below are my top tips for making school lunches your child will eat and enjoy.
1. Include a maximum of 3 or 4 different foods
Including too many different foods can easily overwhelm a child with too much choice, or they may just pick their favourite foods to eat and leave the rest. This means including some protein, a whole grain carbohydrate and some veggies and/ or fruit such as wholemeal bread with sliced cooked turkey, served with raw chopped carrot- sticks and a fruit such as a banana on the side.
2. Include at least 2 different choices weekly
Better not to repeat the exact same lunch every day; otherwise children could come to expect this and become more limited in tasting and enjoying a wide variety of foods. Depending on your child, a change of lunch could be as simple as a different bread like a wholemeal pitta, different fillings like peanut butter or different fruit or veggies such as an apple or sliced raw red peppers. Even if your child only likes 2 different types of fruits, for example, alternate between them to avoid your child getting bored of eating the same food every day.
3. Plan and agree the lunch together
To increase the chance of the lunch being eaten, agree with your children the foods that go into their lunchboxes. If they don’t eat a certain food at home, chances are they won’t eat them when they’re more rushed at school. Better to include these foods at another time.
4. Involve your child
Involve your child in shopping, preparing or packing their lunch. When children have an input into deciding what they will be eating; they feel more in control and this, in turn, increases the chances that they will eat it. One way of doing this is to offer a choice, let your child choose 1 out of 2 or 3 similar foods, for example, an apple and a pear.
5. Watch portion sizes
Better not to include too much food in a lunchbox. Serve smaller portions that are more manageable and even children with a small appetite will often eat more.
6. Serve food separately
Serve lunch foods packed separately, for example, in a lunchbox with a number of compartments as many pre-schoolers and young school-aged children, do not like different foods touching each other. Cutting sandwiches into smaller, more manageable sizes also makes it easier to eat more quickly.
These top tips will help ensure your children actually eat their lunch and that packing school lunches is less of a challenge.
Information provided by Dr. Colette Reynolds, a Nutrition and Healthy Eating Coach and Founder of Growing Healthy Eaters. Growing Healthy Eaters supports and advises parents and children to eat and enjoy a wide variety of foods and develop lifelong healthy eating habits.
For more tips visit www.growinghealthyeaters.ie