Gone are the days of making a vegemite sandwich for school and throwing in a muesli bar and a packet of chips. We are becoming a lot more health conscious as are the schools and for good reason! A lot of schools also have a minimal waste policy so it’s a good idea to send a healthy lunch box without any extra packaging. Another benefit of this is that you’re not actually sending any pre-packed food and know exactly what is going into your kids little bodies.
First of all – it really helps to have a good lunch box. There are some fabulous varieties out there, I personally like the bento style ones which help you be creative in what you pack into the different sections. Make sure you have personalised name labels on it as you don’t want it to go walk-a-bout in the playground!
So what do you pack in a healthy lunch box?
The healthiest option is to either make your own yoghurt or use Greek or natural yoghurt sweetened with some fruit. Many of the bento style lunch boxes are leak proof so yoghurt can go straight into one of the compartments or you can buy food pouches to put it in. These are a great alternative to pre-packaged squeezy yogurts that are loaded with sugar, and much more expensive too.
Freshly baked items
If you would love the goodness of home baked snacks but need an easier solution, take a look at the Bake-at-Home Mixes by Adventure Snacks who do some great muffin and cookie mixes. I was lucky enough to have a packet of the Oat and Carrot Cookies as well as the Sweet Potato and Zucchini muffins mixes sent to me to try. The two things that I wanted to check were if there were any nasties (such as preservatives, artificial colours or flavours) in the packet and did I still have to go out and buy a bunch of ingredients. I was pleasantly surprised on both fronts.
Both mixes were:
- Lunchbox friendly – no nuts
- No refined sugar
- At least 95% organic
- No preservatives, artificial colours or flavours
- The cookies were also vegan friendly
And in terms of what I had to buy, for the cookies all that I needed to add to the mix was coconut oil and water! I threw in some sultanas in the mix for good measure also. As you can see from my boys below they were 100% toddler approved!
For the muffins all that was needed to throw in was zucchini, eggs and milk – all things that I had in my fridge which was super convenient. These were delicious and moist, the boys gobbled them up. These would also be great cooked as mini muffins as bite sized snacks.
You might also like trying making our Choc Apricot Bites which are easy to make, nut free and a delicious lunchbox addition.
Fruit & Veggie Sticks
Fresh cut up fruit and veggies are probably the easiest to add to lunch boxes, and a great way to get additional nutrients into the kids. If you have a lunch box a bento style lunch box this is ideal. You don’t need to stick with the usual apple, strawberries, blueberries and banana either. Try adding things like cherry tomatoes, snow peas, celery, and you can even add some dairy to this with little cubes of tasty cheese or try some bocconcini for a change.
If you don’t have a bento style lunch box these things can also sent in re-usable snap lock bags which are super convenient and also environmentally friendly.
Tip – cut your veggie sticks up at the beginning of the week and store in Tupperware in the fridge – carrot and celery keep particularly well.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with sending the humble sandwich for lunch. If you do want to mix things up you could try using wraps instead of bread and can even cut them up into bite sized rounds like ‘sandwich sushi’ to make them easier to eat and look more inviting! Some other things you may like to try include rice paper rolls, meatballs, quiche/frittata, or patties.
Use your imagination…
The options really are endless when packing food for school just make sure you are adding ice bricks to the lunch box and using an insulated lunch bag to keep all those goodies at a nice temperature. Having a lunch box full of all these healthy items, it really doesn’t matter what they eat at lunch or recess as you know they are getting good nutrition no matter what they pick from their lunch box, Obviously some of these things are going to take a little preparation. Just set some time aside on the weekend and get the whole family involved. The kids will love it!
Rachel Cassidy is the author of this article and the founder of Little Peeps Eats. She is a passionate food blogger and brand ambassador, but her most important job is being a mum! Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.