Less than 2% of primary school children’s packed lunches meet nutritional standards, according to a study conducted by the University of Leeds.
This means most parents could be doing more to ensure their little ones are getting all of the vitamins and nutrients they need to be happy and healthy.
If you’re looking to make healthy changes to the food you pack in your kids’ lunch boxes every day, we’ve got some tips that will help.
Make sure your little one’s packed lunches are balanced
The main reason why most primary school children aren’t getting the nutrition they need from their packed lunches is because their midday meals are often heavy in sugar and light on the vegetables.
So, when you’re planning your little one’s dinner, the NHS’s Change 4 Life initiative recommends including food from each of the five food groups: carbohydrates, protein, milk and dairy, fruit and vegetables, and fats and sugars.
Of course, these shouldn’t all be represented equally, and your child will need more fruit and veg than sugary foods. But, all five groups are important in their own ways.
If you need more information about which food fall into these different categories and how much of each you should give your kids, BBC Good Food has a great guide to what young children need from their diet, which you’re bound to find very helpful.
Prepare as much as you can in advance
You know what they say: fail to prepare, and you’re preparing to fail. And, this is certainly true when it comes to your kids’ packed lunches. The more you have to do before you leave the house on a morning, the more likely you’ll be to make lazy meals that aren’t healthy at all. So, we would always recommend preparing as much as you can in advance.
Try to do some preparation while you’re making dinner for your family in the evening. This will make life a lot easier for you in the morning.
Chop up the likes of carrot, cucumber, and celery, which you can separate into daily portions and seal in freezer bags, and then grab when you’re packing your children’s dinners. You can even prepare pasta dishes, leafy salads, sandwiches, and wraps in advance. Just make sure they’re kept in air-tight containers, so they stay fresh. When it gets colder, consider giving them some soup or stew in a Thermos.
Keep things interesting
When you’re busy, it can be easy to get into a rut of making the same thing for your kids’ lunches every day. But, they’ll soon get bored. And, if this boredom causes them to leave some of the food in their lunchboxes, this could mean they aren’t getting all of the nutrients they need.
There are some simple things you can do to keep things interesting with minimal effort. For example, you could serve similar sandwiches every day, but alternate between regular bread, wraps, and pittas. If you have some extra time on your hands, you could even bake your own bread with different ingredients.
This Belling recipe for bacon, cheddar, and onion flatbread is ideal.
Alternatively, mix up the snacks that you pack. A handful of blueberries, dried apricots, strawberries, low-sugar cereal bars, a boiled egg, or carrot sticks can all work well. Whatever healthy bits and bobs your little one loves, alternate them so there’s always a nice surprise.
Giving your kids a balanced diet is essential in aiding their growth and development.
And, as they’ll eat lunch at school five days a week, it’s important that you make sure these meals are providing them with all the nutrients they need.
Take these tips on board, and we’re sure you’ll find it a lot easier to make great meals your children will love.