Source: Flickr | Melissa
Few would disagree that school dinners have turned on their head over the last few years. They are not the inedible trash that we were perhaps used to as kids (although there are constant debates on whether or not they are healthy enough).
At the other end of the spectrum, we have packed lunches. Not all kids have them – but they do at least provide parents some control over what their children are eating.
Of course, these come in all shapes and sizes. Some kids might rock up to school with an apple and a banana, others might have a full-on chocolate experience.
Today isn’t about the rights and wrongs of either approach, it’s about putting together some easy tips that you can implement to make your lunch much more exciting (and still healthy) for your little one. At the same time, it may also make you a little more popular as well…
Make a little more dinner than you need
Leftovers are everyone’s best friend – whether you are an adult or a child.
We’ll give you two reasons why packed lunches sometimes get a bad name – cheese sandwiches. This was the classic element of a packed school lunch and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with a cheese sandwich, eating one for five days a week just isn’t going to do your taste buds any favors.
Instead, it’s about getting creative with your fillings. Make a little extra dinner, and put this into your sandwich. Sure, not all leftovers are going to be suitable for this purpose, but having protein with all of the juices and a few vegetables between your slices of bread is a lot more enticing than any of the classic alternatives.
ALWAYS provide a treat
Nowadays, there’s a big emphasis on staying healthy with packed lunches – and this is for very good reason.
Let’s not forget that this can sometimes be difficult to portray to children, who almost NEED those treats from time to time. You don’t have to insert a Mars bar into the lunchbox on every occasion, and you can sometimes push the boat out and opt for some more unique chocolate candy (there’s an example in the footer).
Furthermore, it doesn’t have to be every day. On some occasions it might just be fruit, or dried fruit, but don’t discount unhealthy treats ALL of the time.
It doesn’t always have to be about sandwiches
Unfortunately, the nature of packed lunches mean that sandwiches are the easiest thing to conjure up. After all, most schools don’t have umpteen microwaves available to heat up leftover meals from the night previously.
You can spice things up with the type of bread though. For example, wraps are a great alternative, while on some days you can turn to pitta bread. Put simply, changing things up in this regard can just make the typical sandwich that little bit more exciting.
Also think about their nutritional “needs”
When we talk about needs, it’s actually referring to what the food needs to provide children. If it’s full of sugar, they are going to suffer with an almighty crash in the afternoon which is going to make their lessons nigh-on impossible to concentrate in.
Instead, focus on carbohydrates if you know they have physical education session, but also have plenty of proteins in there. By doing this, you’ll be providing them with the right kind of energy for the afternoon ahead.
Finishing off with a few links
Here are a few links that helped today’s article take shape (thankfully, I wasn’t around when school dinners were THAT bad – see link #1)!
Link #1 – A look at school dinners over the years (there have been some shockers)
Link #2 – Alternatives to bread (this is actually focused on the celiac market, but it’s got some great examples
Link #3 – Some exciting chocolate candy to add to your lunch
Link #4 – A basic look at nutritional needs for kids