The daily routine of packing lunchboxes is the pet hate of many busy moms and dads. Here are some practical ideas and tips to get you through the morning:
1) Shopping ahead and being prepared; this is probably the most important aspect of being “on top of things”; aim to buy for the week ahead; stock up on fresh vegies, fruit, snack items, muffins etc; maybe do some baking. Remember to cook extra at night, to allow for more options in lunchboxes the next day. Being organised helps us to be more mindful of the necessity of adding good nutrition and flavour and thus winning the lunchbox battle. This all takes TIME and EFFORT-we owe that to our children!
2) Nothing greasy; limit the fried, fatty foods and snacks e.g. Fried samoosas, pies, sausage rolls and other high fat options, as much as possible. These add unnecessary calories to the diets of children and add on extra weight to those little bellies. They lack nutritional value and are deficient of adequate vitamins and minerals for growing bodies-this is also the “easy way out!”
3) Something wheaty; multi-grain breads eg. Seed loaf/ low GI-brown/ rye/ soy-linseed etc-these break down into glucose over a longer period of time, keeping hunger pangs at bay and assisting with more stable concentration throughout the school day. Vary breads with other options such as wholegrain wraps and crackers eg. Provita/ plain Digestive biscuits/ rye crackers.
4) Something meaty, milky or cheesy; Options include low fat yoghurts/ drinking yoghurts or yogi-sips/ smoothies into which fruit can be added/ cold Milo/ Nesquik/ SMOO (low GI milkshake powder); lean red meat (silverside or sliced beef), meatballs, skinless chicken cut into strips, turkey slices, boiled egg, biltong sticks, cheese blocks, roasted chickpeas, baked fish cakes, baked beans/ plain butter beans in small Tupperware, leftover savoury mince on sandwiches.
5) Go slow on the sweeties; sweets and even chocolates in the lunchbox are a NO-NO! They are very high in unhealthy fats and energy and completely absent of any good vitamins, minerals and fibre. Rather aim for more nutritious options like fresh fruit portions/ fruit pieces on small skewers or mixed into plain yoghurt, plain dried fruit (even mix these with nuts), fresh fruit pieces added to bottles of plain water or even diluted fruit juice, frozen overnight to be enjoyed ice cold in the lunchbox.
6) Go “raw” more; experiment with more fresh salad options in the lunchbox eg. baby tomatoes, cucumber slices, carrot sticks, celery sticks, raw mushrooms etc. More attention needs to be given to this group of foods in lunchboxes, as children are eating less and less of this food group, with dire consequences.Yes, it does take more time, but these options can also be prepared/ cut the night before-Remember the “being prepared” advice above!
7) Lastly, always remember that children (big and little!) are very VISUAL. Colour, texture and aroma of fresh foods in the lunchbox is what they love and enjoy.
Practice these guidelines in the weeks ahead and hopefully, there will be some happier mums/ dads and some healthier little tummies out there!
Julie Peacock – Registered Dietician