Most moms can tell you that the business of packing a delicious and nutritious lunch box is not child’s play.
It’s vital that your child’s lunch box consists of way more than nutritionally-empty treats and that it’s packed with the good stuff children need to get through a demanding day at school. Kids between the ages of 6 and 12 need a balanced, healthy diet to give them the fuel to grow, boost their immunity and cognitive development and metabolism. A healthy diet is key to ensure everything from the proper formation of bones, muscles and teeth, right though to ensuring that they have the energy to complete their school day and all other activities.
Keep some of the broader South African food-based dietary guidelines in mind when you’re planning a lunch box: Ensure you use a variety of food; include water to quench your child’s thirst; make starchy food the basis of most meals; don’t forget adding fruit (fresh or dried fruit) and vegetables, as well as sources of protein (like nuts and seeds, chicken, fish, meat, milk, eggs, legumes), and go slow on the fatty and high-in-salt foods.
Packing a healthy lunchbox that won’t bore your child to tears can be a challenge, so here are some general guidelines to help you.
Offer a variety of foods and use different colours and textures: examples include baby sweet corn, carrots, tomatoes and cucumber;
Include a portion of vegetables or salad and one portion of fruit. Dried fruit are very convenient here as it is available all through the year and will not discolour or go off during warm summer days in any way. (Montagu Dried Fruit and Nuts stores have a wide variety of dried fruits to choose from including all kids favourite mango strips and high fibre apple wedges.);
Add a portion of a milk or dairy item such as low fat milk, cheese, yoghurt, cottage cheese or a yoghurt drink;
A portion of lean protein like chicken, fish, biltong, eggs, beans or nuts (nuts are again very convenient as it stays fresh throughout the day and has the added bonus of healthy Omega-3 oils.);
A portion of carbohydrates: bread, noodles or potatoes, and
Remember that chocolate and cookies should only be a random and not daily treat.
Try these five easy lunch box ideas –
Whole wheat pita + cream cheese + ham + raisins;
Biltong + baby carrots + tomatoes + whole wheat crackers;
Pasta + tuna + cucumber + cheese straws + dried fruit;
Yoghurt + fresh banana + leftover chicken + raw cashews/almonds, and
Dried fruit + cheese & ham/beef sandwich + cucumber + carrot sticks.
Visit Montagu Dried Fruit and Nuts for the biggest variety of dried fruit and nuts. Find a store near you http://bit.ly/MDFNStores
Visit out Facebook page for more healthy lunchbox ideas.