The holidays will soon be over, and with the Covid-19 vaccine out, it looks like things will soon return to normal, and kids will be back to school. Now, besides the complications of dressing them in a different outfit every day, you’re going to have to make sure to pack nutritious meals in their lunch packs for them each day to take to school. Here’s the best way to organize these lunch packs, and make sure they have something different to eat every day:
Involve Your Children in the Process
Sit down with a big life-size menu – one that is magnetic, and can stick on your fridge and is in plain and easy sight, and get the kids involved so that you can plan the meals together with them. You want to make sure that every meal has a protein to help them build healthy muscle, healthy carbohydrates to give them energy, fruit and vegetables, as well as lots of healthy snacks.
Put the menu down on the kitchen table, and sit around it with dry-erase magnetic markers, and let each child have a turn writing down what school lunch they want every day – make sure to offer them a wide variety, so every day can be different.
Great Protein Examples
You’ll want to give them any sort of protein that’s delicious and healthy, such as roast beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, eggs, cheese, or anything else similar to that.
Great Carbohydrate Examples
Here is where you get to be creative with carbohydrates, as some are healthier than others. You don’t want to give your child anything that’s going to spike their blood sugar levels, as this will result in poor concentration in the classroom.
Stick to Low GI (Glycemic Index) breads, rolls, and bagels that are wholewheat, brown and wild rice, wholewheat pasta, sweet potatoes, and other carbohydrates that will fill your child’s stomach, make them feel satisfied, and give them a lot of energy.
Fruits and Vegetables
Here you can completely leave this to your children. Let them tell you exactly what their favorite fruits and vegetables are, and add that to their lunches. Fruits and vegetables are so healthy that they can just give you their preferences, and you can go from there. Of course, for children aged 6 and younger, you will need to refrain from giving them any sort of fruit or vegetable, such as grapes or Italian tomatoes, that they can easily choke on. (If you do give your young children these snacks, simply cut them in half).
You need to be careful, when it comes to healthy snacks, of the size of the snacks you are packing. Things like grapes and almonds are dangerous to children under the age of 6, as they can choke on them, and shouldn’t be packed in their lunch packs. They need snacks like whole cucumbers with a small tub of guacamole or hummus, and wholewheat crackers spread with almond butter.
For children over the age of 6, you can pack cashews and pistachio nuts, small Italian tomatoes, grapes and anything else they enjoy snacking on – even one or two pieces of dark chocolate that has 75% or higher of cacao.
Great Example Lunch Pack Menu for a 5-Day School Week
Here is an example of a lunch pack menu running from Monday to Friday, if you need inspiration. Remember – look at your menu, so you know exactly what needs to be cooked and packed the night before. (If for any reason, you don’t have time to cook each day, you can always pack the dinners they had the night before, into their lunch packs, although they will enjoy a varied lunch pack more!)
Make this a fun lunch. The weekend has ended, and you want your child to ease into the school week. Make beef hamburgers with spinach, tomatoes and red onions inside. It can be covered in some healthy mustard, and on the side, you can have a portion of sweet potato French fries!
Drinks: A bottle of water and fresh strawberry juice. If you don’t have a big juicer at home, no worry – you can always use a smaller, convenient juicer, such as a handy Blendjet to make delicious juices at the touch of a button!
Healthy Snacks (ages under 6): Crackers with Gouda cheese.
Healthy Snacks (ages over 6): Handful of cashew nuts and bunch of grapes.
Make some healthy salmon fish fingers with coleslaw and rice.
Drinks: A bottle of water and fresh orange juice.
Healthy Snacks (ages under 6): Celery sticks with peanut butter inside.
Healthy Snacks (ages over 6): Celery sticks with peanut butter inside and 5 Italian tomatoes.
Make roast beef sandwiches with lettuce, gherkins and tomatoes. You can spread mayonnaise and mustard inside.
Drinks: A bottle of water and fresh grape, celery and pineapple juice.
Healthy Snacks (ages under 6): Cucumber and carrot sticks, and a small banana.
Healthy Snacks (ages over 6): Cucumber and carrot sticks, and a small banana with a handful of almonds.
The end of the week is nearly here, and you can spoil your children a little bit with delicious Southern baked macaroni and cheese! This is super-filling and extremely tasty!
Drinks: A bottle of water and fresh banana and strawberry juice.
Healthy Snacks (ages under 6): Three big strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, and a slice of iced carrot cake.
Healthy Snacks (ages over 6): Three big strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, and a slice of iced carrot cake.
It is the end of the school week, and it’s good to end it on a healthy note! Prepare wholewheat bagels with cream cheese, smoked salmon, red onion, and rocket. You can add capers for your children aged 6 and over.
Drinks: A bottle of water and fresh pear, apple and beetroot juice.
Healthy Snacks (ages under 6): Four long slices of pineapple, julienne carrots and a guacamole/hummus dip.
Snacks (ages over 6): Six long slices of pineapple, julienne carrots and a guacamole/hummus dip.
It’s good to always have variety over the days, so that your children get used to different food, and can decide for themselves what they really do or don’t enjoy. As always, sit down with them on a Saturday with the magnetic menu that’s always stuck to the family fridge, and let them fill in what they want. If they want chocolate cake every day, of course you will speak to them and put in your alternate suggestions, but let their school lunch packs be a joy that they are always looking forward to!