Taking the stress and guess-work out of packing a balanced lunchbox for your kids using these super easy tips and guideline.
A balanced lunchbox should contain a variety of nutritious foods from each of the five food group: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy (or alternative) and protein. If you’re packing all this food into your little’s lunch, there really isn’t any room for the processed stuff.
Providing variety ensures that your children will obtain a wide range of important nutrients, essential for growth and development, and keeps them alert throughout the school day. The afternoon slump happens for the kids too, so send lots of healthy options, the teachers and your kids will thank you.
Because kids consume a third of their daily nutrients while at school, its important to pack them a balanced lunch. That should include healthy snacks as well and sugarless beverages.
Kids are busy little people. They are learning and playing and their body and brain needs real food fuel to thrive. After a busy morning, it’s important for kids to refuel with a nutritious and tasty lunch. Same goes for the afternoon, your child will need a substantial snack that can carry them through the rest of the day and a sugary treat won’t do the job (it makes them tired and lethargic).
Packing a healthy lunchbox for your kids doesn’t have to be stressful, all you need to keep in mind are these 3 things:
- Choose healthy whole foods to give them energy
- Help them eat the right portions
- Keep things interesting by mixing it up so they don’t get bored
First, choose healthy whole foods to keep your kids energized and alert. Whole foods are in their natural state. An apple, carrot sticks, rice, and chicken are a few examples. Whole foods contain one ingredient. That doesn’t mean sandwiches are wraps are out, they sure aren’t! There’s a lot of good whole grain products to choose from to make your kid’s lunch healthy and provide extra fiber and B vitamines they need.
Try to stay away from sending processed foods like granola bars, fruit roll ups, prepackaged breakfast bars and junk like that. Instead, send homemade granola bars, fruit, nut butters (or replacements) or even homemade cookies. At least you know what’s in them and where they come from.
Next, make sure your kids are getting the right portions of whole food by providing lots of fruit and vegetable options in their lunchbox. Here’s a guideline to packing a healthy balanced lunchbox for your kids:
FRUIT: 1 Serving – Washed and chopped – 1 serve = 1 cup fruit salad or 1 medium piece or 2 small pieces
VEGETABLES: 2 Servings – A colourful selection – 1 serve = 1 cup salad or 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables
PROTEIN: 2 Servings – Keep cool for safety – 1 serve = 80g lean chicken or 1 cup baked beans, 2 tablespoons nut butter or 2 boiled eggs
GRAINS: 2 Servings – Whole grain or high fibre – 1 serve = 1 slice whole grain bread or 1/2 cup of cooked pasta or rice or 3 crisp breads
DAIRY: 1 Serving – Full fat variety – 1 serve = 200g tub of yogurt or 1 cup of milk or 2 slices of cheese (or alternative to cow’s milk products).
SNACK: 1 Serving – For more active kids – 1 serve = apple slices with nut butter (if allowed), cucumber slices with hummus or yogurt dips.
WATER: Pack a stainless steel thermos with cold fresh water. Kids need to hydrate often throughout a busy day and water is key.
Lastly, keep the kids lunches fun and interesting. Unless you have a child that will only eat 3 or 4 different food items, your best bet is to mix it up a little. A variety of different foods will do the trick and it doesn’t hurt to cut fruit and vegetables into fun shapes either, it’s often the only reason a child tries a new food.
There’s no need to stress over what to pack in your kids lunchbox. Keeping it simple and real is best for your kids health and your peace of mind 🙂
Portion Sizes for Kids – making sure your kids are getting enough good stuff daily.
Made from scratch Granola Bars and Oatmeal Bites recipe.