When you become a parent, you want the best for your kids. Their happiness, health, and wellbeing become your priority and you inevitably find yourself fussing over all sorts of different things that you wouldn’t have previously given a second thought. Let’s take lunch as an example. Prior to having little ones, chances are that lunch was just another meal of the day. You’d generally grab something as you were rushing out the door to work or have to pick something up from a nearby store on your lunch break – anything would do, as long as it filled a hole.
However, as a parent, you’re likely to be on a constant learning curve when it comes to providing your kids with the best, and you’re bound to start looking into what you have to do to meet your little ones’ dietary needs. Once you’ve surpassed the stage of breastfeeding or supplying formula, you look into what soft foods are going to introduce your little one to new tastes and textures while providing them with the correct nutrition.
When they grow out of this, you’ll introduce them to different finger foods and solids. Things are likely to go smoothly and you’ll feel pretty settled in from this point on. That is, at least, until they start nursery or school and you find that you need to provide them with a healthy midday meal that can be carried out of your home and eaten in class. So, what can you do to create the perfect lunch that can be packed away in a lunch bag or lunch box?
Here are a few tips and tricks that should get the ball rolling in the right direction!
Choose the Right Storage
When kids are dining out of the house, they are going to have to carry their food with them and this can somewhat limit what you provide them with. But the good news is that nowadays, there are more and more storage options becoming available, meaning that you can send your kids off to nursery or school with more than just a sandwich wrapped in tin foil or cling film.
Investing in proper storage for food means you can provide your kids with more variety and also helps to ensure that food doesn’t go stale throughout the day. The right container can keep food fresh, which should encourage your kid to eat it rather than picking at it and throwing it away. A standard lunch box is a good option to carry extras in your little one’s meal and a wrapped sandwich. But you might want to consider alternatives if you want to provide different foods. Tupperware with a tight seal is great for pastas with sauces or chopped wet foods, such as fruit. You might also want to consider resealable plastic bags for snacks. These are airtight and will keep food fresh for longer.
Choose a Main Component
Every lunch should revolve around one main component. This is the main source of nutrition and is likely to be the most filling part of your little one’s midday meal. As we have already highlighted, most of the time, this will tend to be a sandwich. Sandwiches are popular, as they are simple and relatively fast to make. It is rare that ingredients included have to be cooked, meaning that you don’t have to spend quite so much time preparing the lunch and washing up pots and pans once it’s done. It’s a great
You can get much more adventurous and make your children’s sandwiches a whole lot more nutritious with just a little extra effort. Put a little salad into the sandwich – lettuce, cherry tomatoes, onion, and other green filler can help to contribute towards your little one’s five a day at the same time as adding a little extra flavour. Also, bear in mind that there are other options.
Now, for adults, common choices tend to be a sandwich or a salad. But at the end of the day, there are very few children out there who will actively enjoy a salad. So, what are the alternatives?
Well, why not consider something like sushi? Sushi is packed with rice, meaning that your kids will gain energy from the carbohydrates present. They are also generally wrapped in seaweed, which is extremely nutritious. But you can add in all sorts of extras to make it more flavoursome and healthy. Avocado, tofu, cucumber… the list goes on and on. Another option is pasta. Pasta, again, is very filling and can have all sorts of ingredients added to contribute to your kid’s five a day. Tomatoes are particularly high in vitamins and antioxidants and you can get an extra health kick in with
Add a Snack
Besides the main component of the meal, let’s consider snacks. Now, in times gone by, many parents would have thrown a chocolate bar, a slice of cake, or some sort of sugar packed cereal bar into the lunchbox. But try being a little healthier. Carrots sticks, cucumber sticks, and other vegetable sticks with a hummus dip can be enjoyable and also very green. For something sweet, apple sticks with peanut butter or sweet sauces could be a good option. You can easily use a food processor to make your own nut butters at home for a healthier option. If your child likes crisps, consider healthier crisps, like vegetable crisps, kale crisps, lentil crisps, or sweet potato crisps! Granola cereal bars can be great too – just check their sugar content to ensure that they are genuinely as healthy as their packaging and advertising might imply.
A Whole Piece of Fruit
If you find that your little one would still be hungry after this, you don’t necessary have to fill them up with junk. You could just add more fruit to the lunch. This is easy to include. A whole apple, banana, or pear can be thrown in. Softer fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sliced grapes, and kiwi slices, are also an option. You just have to put them in some tightly sealed tupperware to avoid them being squashed amongst other food and making a mess.
Of course, it doesn’t all always have to be entirely healthy. Every once in a while, on a special occasion, or as a special treat, why not throw a small treat in as a surprise for your kid? Opening their lunch up to find an unexpected cake, small bar of chocolate, or something similar could really brighten your little one’s day! At the end of the day, moderation is key, so you don’t need to entirely cut out unhealthy foods. You can just provide them occasionally in a sensible quantity.
Don’t Forget a Drink
Of course, we focus on food when it comes to packed lunches. But it’s absolutely essential that you remember to include some sort of drink too! So many of us will completely forget this aspect of the packed lunch and send our kids off without anything to hydrate themselves.
Now, we are all well aware that the average adult should have around eight glasses of water a day. But what about kids? Well, for five to eight-year-olds, five glasses should do. For nine to twelve-year-olds, seven glasses are generally sufficient. From the age of eight onwards, eight is the golden figure. Of course, you can’t put this much liquid in your kid’s bag and their school will generally provide water throughout the day. But a fun drink can put a smile on your child’s face and encourage them to get a little more hydration at lunchtime.
Now, good drinks to include could be bottled, pouches, or cans. Unfortunately, many drinks packaged in this way tend to be carbonated or sugary drinks, which are no good for your child. Avoid these and actively seek out healthier alternatives.
Making It Look Exciting
Most kids are pretty visual. When faced with a bland looking lunch, they are likely to turn their noses up or generally be unimpressed. So, if you have the time on your hands, you can add some extra pizzazz to their lunch by making things look exciting. Check out Pinterest for some ideas. Sandwiches cut into interesting shapes, snacks that look like animals or other identifiable characters, and bright and bold lunches can be a real hit amongst your kids. They’ll be excited to chow down every lunch time!
Sure, lunch might sound simple. But it could actually be more complex than you initially thought. You have to bear multiple things in mind – nutrition, taste, storage, and presentation – to make a true success of it! Hopefully, the above information has inspired you and will set you on the right path when it comes to making your kids the perfect lunch!
Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you have found these tips useful for your kids perfect lunch!
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*This is a collaborative post.