Coming up with a lunch box day after day can do your head in! A healthy lunch box doesn’t need to be full of expensive “super foods” that will get picked at – these ideas can be put together in 10 minutes max. Make it easier for yourself by shopping around the edges of the supermarket in the fresh food aisles. Cast an eye over the labels and look for items low in sodium (less than 400mg per 100g), lowest in saturated fat and less than 10g per 100g of fat, and low in sugar (ideally less than 15g per 100g). Breads should have higher than 3g of fibre per serve.
A well balanced lunch box should include:
- a bottle of water
- a source of wholegrain and protein like wholemeal bread sandwich with some lean meat, cheese and salad/wholemeal pasta with tomato sauce and tuna/brown rice sushi with chicken and avocado/wholemeal pita with falafel/wrap with omelette. My favourite time saver is to cook extra at dinner time and use that for lunch – like a leftover burger patty on a wholegrain wrap with salad . Including some protein in lunch will stop the after lunch slump. Make sure you include a chill brick to keep lunch cool.
- some veggies like cut up cucumber, celery, carrot, cherry tomatoes. When you are chopping up veggies at dinner cut up a few more so that lunch is ready to go. Including some humous, or mixing in some cubed cheese or bocconcini can help get this item eaten. If you are time poor these pre-packed humous can be combined with pre-chopped up carrot sticks.
- Easy to eat fruit grapes, an apple, bananas or mandarin.
- A dairy item like a milk popper, some cheese, or a yoghurt. With yoghurt look for one that has less than 12g of sugar per 100g (6g of this is from naturally occurring lactose sugar). If your kids won’t eat unsweetened yoghurt then the vaalia one is a good choice.
- For a snack a small plain popcorn, wholemeal english muffin with jam, wholegrain corn thins with vegemite. Don’t forget when you are prepping lunch boxes to think about what you can take to work for yourself the next day too. Constantly grabbing lunch from the food court means you are choosing a meal that has about 30% more calories that what you need. Some chopped up veggies and a small packet of nuts will help you avoid the office biscuit jar at 3pm.If you have any questions about how you can improve lunch for you or your children, please get in touch.
Rachel is a university qualified nutritionist based in Balmain, NSW. She is also the mother of two teenagers, so particularly sympathetic to the struggles that parents are going through these days. Between a lack of time, an over-abundance of confusing information on food, and of course, a fussy family… how are you meant to figure out what to feed everyone? Find out more about Rachel at http://www.racheleagleton.com.au or follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/nourshd