Do you feel the pressure when packing a lunch box? Are you trying to pack one that appeals to a fussy eater, only takes a few minutes to pack, doesn’t cost too much and is healthy!? It’s easier than you think.
Here are our top 5 tips to take the pressure off packing a lunch box.
1. Base it on the five food groups
If you choose lunch box foods from the 5 food groups, then you can be sure it is providing your child with the nutrients they need to grow, learn and play throughout the day.
- Breads and cereals – such as different breads, pasta, couscous, rice, noodles and crispbreads
- Vegies and salads – like carrots, celery, cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce
- Meat and meat alternatives – for example eggs, tofu, chicken, fish, lentils, chickpeas and baked beans
- Fruit – there are so many options of whole fruit, cut up fruit and canned fruit
- Dairy and dairy alternatives – like milk, cheese, yoghurt and calcium fortified alternatives such as soy milk, oat milk and soy cheese.
Check out our Interactive Lunch Box Builder for more good choices of foods from each of these groups.
2. Add colour with fruit and vegetables
We have all heard of the expression ‘we eat with our eyes’, however this doesn’t mean you have to spend hours preparing a lunch box filled with dinosaur sandwiches and star shaped cheese. Make it look appealing by adding some colour to the lunch box with your child’s favourite fruit and vegetables.
Does your child like orange mandarins or carrots, red watermelon or cherry tomatoes or green grapes or cucumber?
3. Let your child to help choose the lunch box foods
If you have a fussy eater it could help to get your child involved in choosing foods from healthy options that they want to have packed in their lunch box. Use our Interactive Lunch Box Builder with your child to get them excited about the lunch box.
If your child is a creature of habit, you can use the lunch box as an opportunity to introduce new foods slowly. Keep most of the lunch box the same foods that you know they will eat and then add or change one small thing at a time. Like adding one baby cucumber or a cherry tomato. Once you start seeing that these new foods are accepted and eaten then these can become regulars in the lunch box and you have successfully added a new healthy food to your child’s diet. Remember small steps make a big difference!
4. Save time in the morning by packing leftovers
Lots of dinner foods can easily be packed in the lunch box. Cook a bit extra at night and pack leftovers straight into lunch containers and store in the fridge until the next morning. This works very well with:
- Pasta – plain or with sauce
- Baked vegies like potato, pumpkin or sweet potatoes
- Meals like fried rice, lasagne, curry or pizza
- Koftas, fritters, falafels or rissoles – can be enjoyed on their own or added to a sandwich, wrap or roll
5. Save money by stocking up on specials
It can be hard to find the balance between saving time and saving money because convenience comes at a cost. Cooking meals and preparing snacks from scratch is usually cheaper than buying an equivalent packaged meal or snack. For example, slicing cheese and putting it with wholegrain crackers will cost around $1.45/100g compared to up to $3.80/100g for pre-packaged sliced cheese and biscuits. Buying a large tub of yoghurt and dividing it into smaller tubs for the lunch box will cost less than buying individual yoghurt tubs. Generally, the more processed a food is, the more expensive it will be.
But for the times that you just need a grab-and-go snack with no preparation stock up on specials! You may need to fork out more money up front, but you will save money in the long run. Just make sure that the products you are buying on won’t expire in the meantime. For ideas on foods that you can purchase when they are on special and store in the fridge or pantry ready to pop into the lunch box read our blog 8 healthy packaged snacks to grab-and-go when time is low.
Remember healthy lunch boxes don’t have to be fancy. For some basic lunch box ideas, perfect for the time poor parent or carer, sticking to a budget or trying to feed fussy eaters click here.