“You don't need to spend lots of money and time creating mini salad wraps, feta-and-spinach muffins and all those unpractical suggestions you'll find on Pinterest. Kids don't want gourmet food – they just don't want to see the same old thing when they open their lunchbox every day.” – Stacey Vee, a Johannesburg mother of three boys and award-winning blogger at Living Lionheart.
Preparing your child’s school lunch box every day is a mission of note. How do you keep the food healthy while ensuring that they actually eat it? Don’t worry if that question is a recurring dilemma in your life – it’s a challenge for all of us!
You are the person best placed to come up with the most successful lunch box strategy for your own kids – especially if they have special health-related dietary requirements. After all, you know all of their eating habits, including the food they love and the food they absolutely refuse to touch. You can combine this knowledge with your imagination to create the perfect school lunch every day! We’ve come up with a list of suggestions that may just give you a bit of inspiration for the job.
Pack their favourites
You can put together the healthiest school lunch ever – it’s a waste of time if your kid doesn’t eat it. So fill the bulk of the lunch box with things they are familiar with and are going to eat.
...but be a veggie smuggler
That doesn’t mean that you can’t also include some healthy new items every day. Most kids enjoy fruit, including apples, bananas, naartjies and strawberries. Why not add the odd carrot or cherry tomato to the mix?
“Instead of sarmies, sometimes I'll do Provitas with cheese and cucumber and throw in a handful of strawberries, or we make date fingers over the weekend that they eat during the week. Keep it colourful!” – Stacey Vee, a Johannesburg mother of three boys and award-winning blogger at Living Lionheart.
While staples like the tried-and-tested sandwich will always have a place in a great lunch box, don’t be afraid to experiment with new goodies every now and then. Try healthy savoury cupcakes, cheese scones and mini quiches – your child’s feedback will let you know if they were a success or not.
Don't forget the drinks
Keeping kids hydrated throughout the school day is very important, especially during the warmer parts of the year. A bottle of cold water – kept in the fridge (or even the freezer) over night – is the healthiest and most thirst-quenching option. Small box fruit juices and low-sugar iced teas are also great, but avoid super sweet fizzy cooldrinks.
Go for variety
Don't scoff at leftovers
The remains of last night’s dinner may well make for the most delicious little lunchtime treat on the following day. If it needs warming up, make sure that there is a microwave at school that can be used to do so safely.
Invest in an insulated bag
A padded, insulated bag that is big enough to accommodate the lunch box is essential to keep all the food as fresh as it can be for the entire school day. Also, it makes transporting the box much easier.
Choose a suitable container
Invest in a sturdy plastic container that is dishwasher safe, closes firmly and is big enough to hold all of the food items you’re likely to want to put in it. Containers with smaller sub-divisions are especially useful to keep the various components of lunch – the sandwich and the banana, the juice box and the muffin, and so on – safely separated from one another.
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