It’s a slippery slope when you pop a fun treat into your child’s school lunch box – before you know it you’re piling in the bought packet snacks. They’ll love you for it but what about nutrition? Growing bodies and minds need all the best stuff so if you’re keen on sneaking in more food that’s also healthy and filling, try these eight neat tricks.
1. Make healthy food look exciting
Not many kids are going to munch down on a raw carrot in the playground when their friends are scoffing Tiny Teddies. Try mixing up the presentation and you’ll be surprised by the results. Think cute Bento Boxes with sliced fruit and veggies in the different sections, food made into fun shapes or colourful little containers you can fill up with goodness and throw in their pack. There are so many smart, new products and options out there now for lunch boxes so get looking and get creative.
2. Hide the good stuff in something delicious
Yes, it’s the oldest trick in the book but more often than not it actually works! You could make pumpkin muffins, cheese and spinach mini quiches, mince and carrot sausage rolls, beetroot chocolate cake and zucchini corn pancakes. If they don’t know it’s in there they may just eat it! Of course a child can not live on kale brownies alone, so just be careful not to focus too much on the sweet stuff. It’s a good idea to start small too – so start with things like swapping white bread for multigrain and then work your way up to the vegetable frittata.
3. Think outside the sandwich
Lunch doesn’t have to be limited to a boring old Vegemite sandwich anymore. Mix it up with interesting things like a chicken salad wrap, veggie burrito, cucumber and avocado sushi rolls, ham and cheese scrolls, veggie spaghetti bolognese, fried rice or a yummy salad. With special insulated containers available now you’re not limited to room temperature items anymore so don’t forget to think about warm and cold dishes.
4. Slurp it down
While we’re on the topic of hot and cold, don’t forget the beverage department! Blitz up a nice smoothie packed full of goodness or a tasty soup loaded with veggies and then whack it in a stainless steel flask for them to guzzle down. Even if the other items in the lunch box aren’t too healthy, at least the liquid component will be.
5. Let them order it
Young kids love getting school lunch orders. There’s something so exciting about having your lunch delivered – even if it’s a salad sandwich and tub of carrot sticks. Just be sure to pick a selection of healthy options. Most canteens have sushi, wraps, fruit salads and veggie sticks so you should have lots to choose from.
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6. Make it a treat
Disguise something nutritious as a treat, so instead of store bought chocolate biscuits pop in a few homemade choc protein balls made from whole superfoods such as chia seeds and raw cacao. Or if they rarely get to eat something such as sushi, make it for their lunch once a week, add in some chopsticks for fun and they’ll be wolfing it down.
7. Pack fresh ingredients
This sounds simple enough but don’t underestimate it. After all, would you be a fan of fruit and vegetables if they were old or bruised? Make sure the fresh produce you’re putting in their lunchbox is the best quality it can be so your kids will get the full taste sensation. Always try to buy fruit and vegetables that are in season as it will be cheaper, support local farmers and taste more delicious.
8. Let them choose
Okay, so this isn’t exactly ‘sneaking’ it in but it is a bit of a Jedi mind trick! Give your child the choice of what to eat, but be smart about it by giving them two types of healthy options to choose between. Grapes or apple? Sandwich with cheese and carrot, or cheese and lettuce? Cucumber or avocado sushi? By involving them in the decision making process, they’ll feel more in control of what they’re being given and therefore be more inclined to eat it all up.