With children beginning to return to the classrooms, it also means the headache of having to pack lunchboxes is back for parents.
What should and shouldn’t go into your children’s lunches always sparks a debate – and now dietitian Rebecca Gawthorne has shared her suggestions on ‘how to build a healthy school lunchbox’.
She says giving your little ones healthy and varied lunches can be extremely challenging, but the right food can maximise learning, energy and concentration when they are in the classroom.
The mum from Australia suggests the secret to providing a balanced lunch is ensuring you have each of the ‘five key food groups’. Here’s what she says to include:
Rebecca says veggies are essential to ensure long-term health and immunity are maintained.
To get them into a lunchbox, she suggests cutting up carrot and cucumber sticks as a quick snack. Alternatively, you could use baby spinach, tomatoes or sweetcorn.
“Adequate sources of protein are vital for children as they progress through rapid growth and change,” Rebecca writes.
Possible additions include a tuna pasta salad, eggs, and falafel.
Many parents are always trying to get their children to eat more fruit, and providing it in small, manageable chunks could encourage them to snack on it when they are out of the house.
Rebecca suggests cutting up an apple, or giving a handful of grapes or blueberries to add something sweet with natural sugars to their lunches.
Grains and cereals
The dietitian says wholegrain foods can sustain energy throughout the day – but parents should limit the intake of refined grains like cookies and biscuits, which are high in saturated fats.
Instead she says you should opt for choices like bread rolls, wraps, pasta and rice.
Dairy and dairy alternative
Rebecca says snacks like yogurts can keep your kids feeling fuller for longer, and stop them wanting to fill up on unhealthy options later on.
She says: “This food group provides excellent sources of calcium and protein, essential for building strong and healthy muscles and bones.”