Life has become so rushed and fast-paced that we hardly have time to feed ourselves decent meals, let alone make the effort to pack healthy lunches for our kids. The majority of parents resort to handing out tuck shop money or hastily wrapping last night’s leftover pizza (also not the best choice) and tossing it into a corner of their children’s school bags while rushing out the door. What would our parents and those few “perfect” mothers that somehow do it all think of this?!
What so many parents sadly do not realise is the effect that these last-minute lunches are having on their children’s health and ability to concentrate and perform during the day. Processed foods and sugars result in crashes in energy levels after lunchtime and this is detrimental to a child’s ability to sit still and retain information. Here are some quick, easy and oh-so-healthy, helpful tips to change these bad habits and pack super lunches for your offspring.
This may sound tedious, but a little bit of time spent planning now will save you lots of time during the week. Make a list of foods that you want to incorporate into your kid’s lunches, such as fruit, nuts, biltong, yoghurts, health sandwiches, muffins, chicken and cold meats, vegetables and granola etc. You can easily create a chart or grab one off Pinterest and many other websites, to plan lunches for every day of the week. This way, you know what to buy, what to keep on hand and in the fridge and when to make what for which day. When planning meals, always take note of what is happening that day, so that your child has enough food for after school sports and activities.
Don’t wait until morning or late at night to wake up and realise that your kiddo needs a good meal to get through their day. Use your meal planning chart or shopping list to ensure that you have the necessary ingredients ready for the next day. You can cut up fruit the night before, bake a quick batch of health muffins or cookies, and grill some chicken nuggets or quickly cut a few pieces of cheese to add to a delicious lunchtime meal. To make things easier, make sure you have small containers, sandwich bags and any other little things you may need to pack these awesome lunches.
From your list of foods, let your children choose some of their favourites as well as some new ones they would like to try, and incorporate that into their food. Let them feel that they are also involved and at the wheel and this will make planning their meals much easier. Take them with to buy groceries to make them feel that they also have a say (to an extent of course) and are involved in the process. Including your child when buying food and allowing them to help prepare their lunches with you or by themselves if they would like, will encourage them to take what they put into their bodies seriously. You can designate an area of the kitchen and use it as the ‘food station’, to promote their involvement and in turn, help them to learn more about the importance of healthy eating and maintaining a good balance.
There are lots of ways in which you can disguise veggies and make ordinary food more appealing. Get out some cookie cutters and turn those ham and cucumber sandwiches into cool shapes. You can also use a melon baller to make balls of fruit or meats as well as put cut up fruit, chicken, meat or veggies onto skewers. Simply Google some ideas to turn healthy food fabulous and you will entice your young ones into healthier choices in no time!
In order for this to work you must stick to it. Don’t fall into the trap of diligently preparing and packing food for a week or two and then letting it go. Set aside the time each day to ensure you are packing good meals and you children are sure to take note of the commitment you are making. In turn, this will have them appreciating their food and what you are doing.
Here are a few great ideas for delicious lunchtime treats
We hope that these tips and lunch ideas will come in handy and help you get on the path to delicious, easy and helpful pre-packed lunches.