Updated: Nov 10, 2021
As summer comes to a close, it brings about big readjustments for families as the preparations for going back to school begins. With the madness of the last year, having a structured routine is something that the whole family may be lacking and can make the thoughts of preparing packed lunches a little bit daunting.
Fear not; it does not need to be that complicated. It is easy to get sucked in to comparing to the “perfect” family lunches posted by the Instagram Mums or the picturesque images on Pinterest but remember this – they are not your children and its shows no reflection of what the child actually ate!
Keep it simple. Break it down into the 3 main food groups; if you can aim for one from each than you are on to a winner. This will ensure a balanced lunch box without any panic. Try make it varied where you can to expose your child to different foods.
Choose a carbohydrate: Bread, wraps, pitta, roll, bagel, rice cakes, pasta, rice, crackers or breadsticks. Try aim for wholegrain if possible but don’t panic if they refuse this initially, it is just one meal and they will be getting plenty of fibre in other parts of their diet
Choose a protein: Chicken, turkey, eggs, tuna, salmon, beef, ham, hummus or falafel. Protein is important to keep them full at meal times and can help your children coming in the door from school feeling starving
Choose fruit and vegetables: This can be anything – you include some salad leaves in a sandwich or have a snack of cucumber and carrot sticks on the side. Include a piece of fruit as well if you can as handy snack that full of fibre.
Anything extra is a bonus after this! You could include a dairy product such as cheese or yogurts or a healthy fat such as avocado or nuts although most schools don’t allow nuts due to allergies.
Let’s put in to practice; a balanced lunch could be:
A ham sandwich, an apple, cucumber sticks, hummus and a yogurt
A portion of pasta with chicken peppers and cheese and a banana
A frittata or omlette with rice cakes, cheese and an orange
Ideally keep fluids simple – water of full fat milk are the best choices. If you notice that they aren’t finishing their lunches but milk is coming back empty maybe switch to water as sometimes milk can fill them up.
If you have fussy eaters don’t be too concerned. It is really not the end of the world if your child chooses the same lunch every day. If you want to make it more varied exposure is the key here. You can do this by adding a new food in their lunch box, but make sure it is alongside a familiar food you know they like so it’s not too overwhelming for them. If they don’t eat it, don’t react but continue to include in lunch box. Unless we provide exposure to new foods, they won’t have the opportunity to try them.
Then there’s that after school hump, where your child comes home with a hunger like they haven’t eaten a scrap all day. This can be difficult when dinner isn’t for a few hour and you don’t want to make multiple meals for the whole family. Some weekend baking for the week ahead can be handy to be prepared for these scenarios. Another great crowd pleaser is a smoothie – you can mix up a big batch in a minutes with endless different ingredients combinations. Try out some of the recipes below to keep the hangry monsters happy!
Blueberry and Banana Oat Slice
2 ripe bananas
3 tbsp natural yogurt
Large handful of blueberries
Mix banana and yogurt in a blender
Mix oats and blueberries in a large bowl
Mix in banana and yogurt
Pour into a making tray
Bake for 25 mins at 180 degrees
Healthy Cheesy Scones
150g self-raising flour,
70g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
90g Cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
90ml milk, plus extra for brushing
Preheat the oven to 200°C.Mix flour and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in the cheese and make a well in the centre
Pour in the oil, egg and some of the milk. Mix together adding in more milk to get the right consistency.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly until smooth.
Roll out the dough to about about 2 cm thick. Cut out the scones with a medium cutter and place on the oven tray. Glaze the tops with the extra milk and sprinkle a little cheese on top of each scone before putting in the oven.
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow to cool and serve with your choice of filling. This can also be frozen and defrosted as needed
2 banana (freezing it before hand makes it really creamy)
3 tbsp peanut butter
300ml of milk
150g of natural yogurt
Simply blend it all up and serve