With the recent return to school, kinder, créche, nursery and childcare for lots of little ones after the Christmas holidays, I thought it would be beneficial to share some tips on healthy lunch box preparation. The types of food that we offer our children during the day can impact on their behavior and how well they respond to certain activities and expectations in the different environments of school, kinder and daycare.
I believe it is very important to teach your children from an early age about ‘everyday’ foods and ‘sometimes’ foods. ‘Everyday’ foods are the types of foods that should be included in your child’s daily diet, including lunch boxes. While it is easy and convenient to fill your child’s lunch box with pre-packaged foods, it is certainly not always the healthiest or best option. ‘Sometimes’ foods are the ones that should be saved for parties and special occasions.
If you have a child who has been on my routines from a very early age and was introduced to solids at my recommended 16-18 week age range then you should find that your toddler and older child will eat a wide and extensive range of foods.
When packing a lunch box, it is important to understand that your child will likely be quite busy while at school, kinder or daycare and will need healthy and nutritious food to maintain their concentration and energy throughout the day.
Nutritionists recommend you aim to include the following six items in your child’s lunch box.
Six items to put in a lunch box
- Fresh fruit
- Dairy food – cheese or yoghurt
- Protein food – slice of lean meat, hard-boiled egg or beans
- Starchy food – bread, roll, pita or flat bread, fruit bread or crackers
Foods best left out
- Muesli and chocolate bars
- Potato crisps and oven-baked savoury biscuits
- Sweet drinks
- Donuts and cakes
- Lollies, honey and jams
- Fatty or processed meats such as salami and Strasbourg
This information has been sourced from The Royal Children’s Hospital, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and The Centre of Physical Activity Across the Lifespan at the Australian Catholic University.
- If you are packing meats, cheeses and other cold dairy products in your child’s lunch box, it is very important that the lunch box has an ice brick to keep these foods at an acceptable temperature. This is one of the reasons I love and recommend the Fridge to Go lunch box range.
- I do not recommend packing grapes in your child’s lunch box. Whole grapes are a choking hazard and should only be offered to children aged 5 and older. I don’t recommend packing grapes into a lunch box as children are often in a hurry to eat at school, kinder and daycare and this increases the choking risk.
- I recommend you check your child’s school, kinder and daycare policies regarding foods – especially nuts as many schools have a ‘no nut policy’ and this may extend to other foods if there are students with high-risk allergies.
Le gach dea-ghui,