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31 Mar 2015

Making Healthy Eating Easy – Top 5 Lunch Ideas

Make healthy eating fun with these fantastic lunch box ideas.

Getting your children to eat the right foods is just part of being a parent, and although sometimes it can seem like pushing water uphill would be the easier option, providing healthy snacks and encouraging good nutrition in your kids doesn't have to be hard.

Here are some tips and ideas that can help make eating healthy  as easy and enjoyable as possible – for all involved. Speaking of involvement…

Get them involved.

Involving children in the lunch making process not only helps them develop good habits and encourages self-respect; it is also a great way of making sure they eat their lunch.

Children who are actively involved in preparing their lunch are more likely to eat their lunch

and more importantly understand the importance of healthy eating. Involving children in the process also opens the opportunity to discuss with them the benefits of healthy eating and explaining why some of the foods they have formed a liking to are not always the healthiest option.

The way food looks is more important than how it tastes.

Whether you’re in a 5 star restaurant, or you are packing lunch boxes, presentation is everything! Providing your children with alternative ways of packaging their meals is a great way of breaking the monotony of the day and encouraging them to try something new.

So get creative already.

Create a theme throughout the lunch box, encouraging them to eat all the elements of their healthy lunch – or pick a colour and try to choose only food and packaging that matches. Whatever the case may be, if you make an effort with the look and feel of your child’s lunch there’s a good chance they’ll reward you by eating it all – and asking for it again the next day!

Cover the 4 food pillars – Protein, carbohydrates, fruit & vegetables, and dairy

What you decide to pack for lunch on a daily basis is totally up to you of course, but if you want a good guide for healthy living and better nutrition then be sure that you cover all of the 4 pillars with every meal:

  • Protein: Tuna, salmon, beef, chicken etc. – Even boiled eggs are an adequate source of protein. Serve them between bread, with a dipping sauce, or just on their own. The combinations and flavours you can create here are endless.
  • Carbohydrates: Breads, rice, potato, and pasta are all excellent examples of healthy carbs. Think outside the box and mix things up a bit. The school sandwich has long been regarded as the most boring aspect of lunch – why not add a touch of pizzazz by cutting it out in a shape, or mixing wholemeal and white to create a pattern – zebra lunch anyone?
  • Fruit & vegetables: Children should have at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day, but don’t simply throw an apple and a banana into their lunch box. There are 100’s of types of fruit out there, and 1000’s of things you can do with them. Get creative!
  • Dairy: Reduced fat yoghurt, cheese and milk are an essential part of any nutritional lunch, but need to remain refrigerated or packed with ice. This is especially true during summer, so choose a lunch box that can hold a frozen drink.  It will keep lunch cool and provide a drink too!
  • Healthy snacks:  Nutritious snacks such as a small box or bag of dried fruit, rice cakes, unsalted popcorn or unsweetened chips are a great way to make lunch seem exciting while maintaining good nutrition.

Creating healthy snacks and unique lunch box ideas can seem daunting when you first start changing routines and trying new things,. Ironically, the real secret to making a school lunch that will actually get eaten is to think outside of the (lunch) box and get a little creative. I guess what we’re trying to say here is - don’t try and reinvent the wheel - maybe just present it a bit differently.