Sometimes I can find it hard to pack a balanced lunch for school. I understand the struggle is real for most parents. Every school holidays I sit down with the children and plan the menu for each term. I cook enough for the whole term and freeze in lunchbox portions. The school lunch menu often consists of; minestrone soup, spaghetti and meatballs, lamb hotpot, nasi goreng and nachos just to name a few.
But not everybody has time or a Nanny! I also have some quick easy go to meals like homemade sushi, chickpea and feta salad and their favourite tuna, rice and peas. They get the occasional sandwich too! What if the freezer is running low and also the fridge and cupboards. How do you make sure you pack a balanced lunch for your children?
Most children’s lunches consist of a sandwich with vegemite or jam, a packet of chips, muesli bar or tiny teddies and hopefully a piece of fruit but most likely a fruit bar. Last week we spoke about added sugar in breakfast cereals. Most children’s lunch boxes are also full of added sugar, a whole lot of brown food (grains) and not many vegetables.
Lunches need to be packed full of vegetables because dinnertime alone is not enough to get all 5 serves of vegetables a day. The key to packing a balanced lunchbox for your children is to think of the 5 food groups and pack something from all 5 groups.
How to Build a Balanced Lunchbox
Choose your Vegetables
+Canned beans like chickpeas or cannellini beans +Carrot, cucumber, capsicum or celery sticks +Olives +Cherry tomatoes +Avocado +Leftover roast vegetables
Choose your Grains (wholegrain)
+Bread +Rice +Pasta +Noodles +Crackers +Corn on the cob
Choose your Protein
+Grilled chicken or homemade chicken nuggets +Tin of tuna in olive oil +Roast leftovers +Boiled egg
Choose your Fruit
+Berries +Watermelon +Apple +Banana +Pear +Orange +Grapes +Pineapple +Kiwi
Choose your Dairy (optional)
+Cheese (feta, cherry boconcinni, cheddar etc.) +Plain Greek Yoghurt with 1 tsp Jam
Optional (Little treat 2x a week)
+Oat and date slice +Gummie lollies +Mini banana and date muffin