Healthy eating for kids does start at home but needs to be sustained in school where they spend a lot of time to truly become a lasting habit. Preparing lunch boxes everyday is a massive challenge for any parent, more so making them as healthy as possible. But it can be done! We’ve asked family healthy coach Maddie Race and naturopath Kat Stewart for healthy lunch box tips that are so practical, easy, and sensible, they will become a part of your routine before you know it.
1. Make it filling and nourishing
“My top tip would be to ensure your child’s lunch box is packed full of protein and healthy fats to ensure lasting energy and concentration. Give your child the right ingredients for a good school day. Things like dinner leftovers, dips that are yoghurt or chickpea-based, or even some little frittata muffins can be great additions that they will enjoy and will leave them satisfied.” – Kat
2. Cook big batches
“Batch cooking is a great way to stay ahead of the lunchbox game. Bake up some of your family favourite snacks, like banana bread or muffins then simply use your freezer and pack individual portions that are easy to grab and pack during those busy mornings. It will eliminate the temptation to pack your child’s lunchbox with highly processed, sugar-laden lunch box fillers that line your supermarket shelves.” – Maddie
3. Get your kids involved
“I also love to encourage parents to get their children involved. Have them pick the piece of fruit they will eat that day or mix up a trail mix that they want to snack on… leaving kids much more likely to eat what has been packed for them.” – Kat
“Involve your child in the lunch box packing process. Create a positive conversation around the lunchbox items…Empowering your child to pack their lunch box creates a sense of ownership, acceptance and pride should the child be involved in the cooking process.” – Maddie
4. Ask your kids’ opinion
“It is particularly important to talk to your children about how their lunchbox was on a daily basis. Ask open questions like ‘Was the food soggy or fresh?’ ‘Did it taste nice?’ ‘Were you hungry today?’ ‘Did you have time to eat?’ ‘Would you like that in your lunchbox again?’. By doing this, you will become an expert at what your child thrives on during the day and this will also eliminate the ‘I’m starving’ statement at the end of a school day.” – Maddie
5. Make it fun
Our own healthy lunch box tip is to add a sense of anticipation through a fun element. If your kids have more than one lunch box or bag, you could pick the days for each and play it up. “It’s owl day! Are you ready to see what it has for you inside?” You can also add a surprise note or sticker with a sweet or silly message, even a joke. And if you really want to raise your lunch box game, create animals or objects using food. There’s a lot of information on the internet about food art and bento boxes for kids to get you started. Our hack is to use cookie or sandwich cutters to make the most awesome shapes on bread, cheese, pizza, or homemade biscuits.