When it comes to preparing lunches for your kids, nailing that winning balance of tasty, healthy, and satisfying can be tough. Here are some tips for lunch boxes that are filled with nutrition and big on yum!

1. embrace the bento box

The bento box has a lot more going for it than looking great. Because it is divided into sections, it can be your secret weapon to increase the variety of foods your kids eat by popping something different in each section. Five compartments are perfect for covering the five food groups, and the kids won’t even realize it. For them, it’s often about the fun of choosing what section to eat first. It’s particularly good for the little fusspots that don’t like their foods touching.

2. fill them up with fiber

A good sandwich or whole-grain roll should never be underrated. Being packed with fiber, whole-grain bread is a great way to help fill kids up at lunch and keep them going through afternoon classes. The extra fiber will also help to keep them regular and maintain their gut health.

3. cut the chopping

An Australian study showed kids are likely to eat more veggies when they are whole. For the lunch box, think mini cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, or whole carrots. For younger kids who may not be able to manage whole veggies, halved cherry tomatoes and spiralized cucumber and carrots can still be good options that are easier for them to chew and swallow.

4. be water wise

Every lunch box needs some liquid, and you don’t need to look any further than fresh water. Juices and sports drinks are often havens for hidden sugar. Try freezing their water bottle with fresh fruit pieces added for a cool flavor burst on a hot day. If you include a flavored drink, aim for something that has a low glycemic index (GI). This means that the combination of nutrients provides longer-lasting energy.

5. choose calcium

Take every opportunity to increase kids’ calcium intake. Calcium is essential for growing bodies, strong bones, and teeth, but less than half (45 percent) of 9–11-year-old boys are getting enough, and even fewer teens. Whole-grain cereal with milk (or fortified plant-based milk) for breakfast is a great start. You can keep it going by including yogurt or cheese in the lunch box.

6. focus on fresh

Try to find in-season fruit and veggies. It will save you money, and you’ll be getting the produce at its peak. Think sweet summer peaches and apricots or crisp winter apples. The kids will love the taste, and the environment wins, too, because fresh local fruit means minimal transport and packaging.

7. easy freezy

Frittatas, savory muffins, and mini quiches are great lunch items that can be made ahead of time in large quantities and frozen in individual portions. You’ll be grateful you planned ahead when you’ve got a super quick and easy option to pop in the lunch box on those busy school mornings.

Article courtesy of Sanitarium Health Food Company. For more information and heart-healthy recipes, visit sanitarium.com.au.

Health Matters: The Luscious Lunch Box

by Sanitarium Health Food Company
  
From the July 2024 Signs