Are you sick of pulling your hair out over food that only gets brought home again? Fussy eaters turning your morning into chaos and arguments? Whether at school or quarantined at home, lunchtime can often turn into a nightmare.
The balance between packing what you think is right and what your children will actually eat, is a skill most of us are yet to master, however it’s not impossible.
Here are 8 tips to help get you through the next 8 weeks.
- Organisation is key. Next time you have a spare 15 minutes, cut up and wash your vegetables for the week and store in air-tight containers in the fridge. Now you have a ready supply for veggie sticks, sandwiches or salad bowls for the big kids in your family. Capsicum, carrot and cucumber are always a favourite.
- Get creative. Begin Monday with options your kids will enjoy. This might mean spending time on Sunday baking muffins together or whipping up some yoghurt and fruit cups. There is an endless supply of recipes out there that are healthy, easy to make and affordable. Get your kids involved in choosing some for the week ahead.
- Leftovers are your friend. It’s no lie that children love leftovers. Make a double batch of dinner and you’ve just found yourself an extra 20 minutes in the morning. These can be reheated- spaghetti bolognese, stir fry and soups are great options when the wind picks up!
- Develop healthy habits. Involving your children in the conversation of what healthy options are, allows for them to learn and develop a sense of ownership towards their health. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, “An alarming 25 per cent of Australian children are classified as overweight or obese”. Speaking positively to your children about healthy foods and role modelling balanced eating is the first step in helping kids develop a healthy relationship with food.
- Have the right tools. What seems like a small part in the process, is actually one of the most significant. It is important that you choose a lunchbox that works for you and your child, can store a variety of containers and will keep the food fresh with an icepack. Ensure that all containers are easy to open and include a spoon or fork where needed.
- Choose nature. Opt for food options that are as close to their natural state as possible. This will limit the amount of processed foods in your child’s diet, helping to increase their nutrient intake. Two of the biggest contributors to obesity are over-representation of junk food and lack of fruit and vegetables. Aim for a varied lunchbox full of healthy, colourful food!
- Avoid additives. Rashes, headaches, hyperactivity, irritability and stomach upsets are only a few signs that your child has reacted to an additive. MSG, colouring and preservatives are the most common problem additives, yet are all highly represented in foods advertised for lunchboxes. Always read the label and a general rule of thumb is if you don’t recognise an ingredient, don’t eat it. 8
- Drink water. Hydration is key for learning, activity and immunity. It can be hard for a child to remember to drink water so having a water bottle available is a great way to encourage Adding some fruit slices or diluted juice can help fussy drinkers.
Lunchboxes are one of those things that can seem so simple in theory, yet so painful in practice. The 8 tips above will help take the stress out of this daily task, so you can pack a lunch that is not only healthy but one your kids will love to eat. At the end of the day, we want our kids to be the best they can be. Developing a positive relationship with food in childhood will help form healthy eating habits in years to come.
Growing up in a family of seven, Mikeely understands the importance of balance in maintaining a healthy and happy home. She is a sport enthusiast, lover of the ocean and takes pleasure in cooking and creating nutritious recipes for the whole family to enjoy. Mikeely holds a Bachelor of Education and is a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach, specialising in human nutrition, gut health, adolescent health and sports nutrition. She has a significant interest in helping women and girls to understand their bodies and use this understanding to feel empowered and connected.
See more of Mikeely’s work HERE