Back to school also means back to lunch box filling! These days, more and more schools are banning certain foods in packed lunches, which often means us mums are to struggling to find foods to pack!
However, preparing a nutritionally balanced lunch box that your kids will love as well as refraining from packing nuts and processed sugar, is actually possible!
As there are different rules for each school, we have created a general guide for a safe lunch box that is simple, healthy and most importantly – all yummy…
School lunch box rules
Do not pack food that can trigger allergies – like nuts!
A main ban in most schools lunch boxes are nuts. This includes any kind of food that has a nut trace – like certain cakes, peanut butter sandwiches etc.
Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network Health has reported that the majority of food allergic and anaphylactic reactions occur in pre-school age children.
Try using seeds to replace nuts so your child is still experiencing that nutty taste in the form of these muesli bars.
Some ways to avoid risk of anaphylaxis is to encourage your children not to share their foods, wash their hands after eating and get help from a teacher if another child looks unwell.
For some more nut-free lunch box meals, look at these 6 delicious ideas.
Meal plan in advance
Plan: Use our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge shopping list to keep track of all your ingredients and what is low and needs topping up. This will not only ensure your never left unprepared but will be a nice rest on your grocery bill as you won’t be buying unnecessary items so frequently.
Prep in advance: Involving your kids in the cooking process of school lunches can be the difference to an empty lunch box come home time and a full one. Get your little ones excited to help by picking out their lunches and snacks for the week and start prepping with these 5 kid-approved recipes.
Love your leftovers: After dinner, spoon the leftovers into portion containers and transfer to the fridge or freezer! This is the most efficient method for busy parents.
Are your kids sick of their soggy sandwiches? The heat doesn’t help it either.
To keep this fresh and appetising, try adding a frozen drink wrapped in a plastic zip lock bag as a substitute for an ice block cooler.
By the time the bell rings for lunch, your Homemade gummies (a great swap for lollies) will be cool and fresh for your little one. Alternatively fill your child’s water bottle with water and freeze it, then place it in the lunch box to keep food cold.
Checking if your kids school bags are kept outside or stored away from the sun is key to preventing food from going bad.
Pack healthy sweet treats
This doesn’t need to be difficult. Avoiding packaged and processed foods is a great rule of thumb when packing your child’s lunch box as it ensures you’re child is being given nourishing, wholesome lunches and snacks.
Yes, it can sometimes be easier to throw a packet of chips or a store bought ‘healthy’ bar into the lunch box when you’re frantically trying to get out the door, but meal prepping can actually make up for this. How? By making double the night before and using leftovers for lunches, preparing earlier and then freezing also saves more time and keeps your kids healthy!
If you have a fussy eater who can’t bear the thought of a lunch box without some kind of ‘junk food’, try your hand at baking healthy treats such as these 6 which have NO sugar at all but taste like a candy factory.
Nutrition Australia says a lunch box has 4 components, a main item, a fruit or vegetable snack, a second snack, and a drink.
The Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey in 2007 reported that there are key areas of nutrition that school kids are lacking. Some of these include calcium, fruit and vegetables and an increase in sugar.
As most kids are in school five days a week, their lunch box constitutes as a high portion of their daily food intake so ensuring multiple food groups are covered is essential.
An easy way to create a balanced lunch box is to include an item of food from each of the 5 food groups:
- Protein, including meat, poultry, seafood or plant-based protein.
- Grains or foods high in complex carbohydrates.
- Dairy or foods high in calcium.
Here is a Healthy Mummy approved day in a balanced lunch box:
Fruit and vegetable break:
Carrots and grapes (fruit, vegetables).
Raspberry swirl muffin, cheese with seed crackers (grains, calcium, protein).
Tuna pasta salad (grains, vegetables, protein).