If your holiday went by as fast as ours did then you will probably need all the help you can get to get the family heading back to work or school with a smile.
Many parents battle with being creative and reasonably healthy when it comes to school lunches. Most importantly, parents want their lunch boxes returned empty! Its no secret that most parents find themselves torn between popping in fast, easy shop bought packets of snacks and trying to prepare healthy alternatives which the kids will actually eat.
The best trick is to keep choices varied, using fresh and tasty ingredients that are high in protein and include veg, fruit and fibre which are low in fat, salt and sugar. Eating regularly keeps glucose levels healthy and will help your youngsters concentrate throughout the day. Morning snacks and school lunch should provide at least a third of your child’s daily requirement.
Packing school and work lunches can be a synch with these 12 superbly yummy ideas.
Chips and Dips
Look for Flaxseed or non GMO corn tortilla chips. Combine chopped fresh tomatoes, lime juice, finely chopped white onion and chopped fresh cilantro as a salsa for older kids. Pack small containers of salsa, mashed avocados (use lemon juice for flavour and to avoid discolouration), and Greek yogurt.
Cold Meat-Cheese Pita Pockets
Spread a creamy cheese inside a whole wheat pita, then fill with roast turkey/chicken/beef/gammon slices, baby spinach leaves and cucumber slices.
The Elvis Burrito
Spread peanut butter on a toasted whole-wheat wrap, then sprinkle with crumbled bacon and drizzle with honey. Place a whole banana at the edge of the wrap, then roll, pressing gently to break the banana and form a cylinder shape. Or, slice the banana, scatter, and roll.
Mash an avocado with lemon juice, then spread on a whole wheat wrap. Top with crumbled bacon, chopped tomatoes, and thinly sliced romaine lettuce. Roll up and wrap in parchment or wax paper to secure.
Bean and Cheese Salad
Whisk 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts olive oil; season with black pepper. Add finely chopped shallot, let sit for a few minutes, then toss with canned, rinsed cannellini beans (white kidney beans), feta or goat cheese crumbles, thinly sliced cucumber half-moons, and chopped fresh dill or parsley. Pack with multigrain pita chips or pockets.
Ham & Cheese Quesadillas
Spread mild mustard on a whole wheat tortilla, then top with slices of cheese and ham. Add a layer of baby spinach leaves, then fold to enclose and cook on a Panini press or in a hot skillet until the tortilla is golden and the cheese melts. Let cool slightly, then cut into wedges before packing.
Quick Fried Rice
Saute the white parts of thinly sliced spring onions in vegetable oil. Add frozen carrots, peas, corn, and a splash of water and soy sauce. Cook until heated through, then stir in pre-cooked or left-over brown rice and another splash of water and soy sauce until the rice is softened and heated through. Stir in thinly sliced spring onions (green parts), toasted sesame seeds, and chopped peanuts.
Rice paper wrappers or large lettuce leaves make great rolled-up meals that are fun for all to eat. Fill them with julienned carrots, coriander, lettuce/baby spinach and a protein of your choice such as tofu, pork, or shrimp. Drizzle with a mix of lime juice and fish sauce with a bit of honey.
Time has come to think outside the bun! Roll cheese sticks with sliced turkey, ham, or roast beef, adding some cream or cottage cheese and even greens to pack a lunch time favourite.
Pack with: Whole-wheat pretzels, celery (optional sunflower butter filing), cinnamon-sprinkled apple slices, coconut macaroon.
Hummus and Pita
Most children love a good smear of hummus. Why not make it the star of the show?
Pack with: Salami, olives, carrots, baby tomatoes, and grapes. (Pack the hummus in a separate container to make dipping easier.)
Roasted Chicken Salad Wrap
Left over roast chicken is perfect for making chicken salad sweetened with cranberries and crunchy celery. Wrap it up in soft tortillas for a lunchbox-friendly meal.
If you still need some help in prepping healthy combos, remember to include each of these groups:
Protein helps develop brain and muscle function & growth. It also keeps kids feeling fuller for longer. Good choices include skinless chicken, oily fish, eggs and dairy foods such as cheeses and yoghurt, and for the vegetarians: beans and pulses.
Vegetables & Fruit
Aim for a portion each of fruit and veg / salad per lunchbox. Fresh, frozen or dried -they all count towards a balanced diet.
Grain Based Carbs
Try opting for more healthy alternatives in your grain choices such as 100 % rye bread, brown health rice and sweet potato fingers. These are important for energy and should make up a third of their lunchbox
A portion of each of the above would equate to what can fit into your child’s palm.
Header Image: Bakedbree.com