Healthy packed lunches for mini munchers


Friday, August 16th, 2013

It’s that time of year again when we’re all trying to come up with interesting and healthy lunch options for our children, you may just be stuck for picnic ideas over the summer holidays. Either way we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to help make packed lunches healthy and funג€¦

ג€¢ Children are attracted to bright colours and are more likely to eat something that appeals to them visually. This doesn’t necessarily mean stocking up on thousands of expensive and environmentally harmful disposable products. Why not invest in some colourful reusable plastic pots that will keep little snacks separate and safe? Just don’t forget to label them with your child’s name!

ג€¢ Fruit should always be incorporated in your child’s packed lunch ג€“ regardless of whether it’s fresh or dried. Try bananas, chopped up grapes, kiwis, pineapple and cherries, strawberries, apples and pears. Popular dried fruit include raisins, sultanas, cranberries, dates, apricots and apple slices. Rather than spending a fortune on little individual boxes of raisins, why not buy in bulk (which is cheaper) and siphon them into your own pots? Alternatively you can make up your own mix in this way.

ג€¢ Vegetables are a mainstay of a healthy packed lunch, and their rainbow colours can help encourage little eaters. Chop up strips of raw peppers (the non-spicy variety!), carrots and cucumbers, and team them with mangetout and baby corn.

ג€¢ Little fingers love dips, so include healthy varieties such as hummus, tzatziki, salsa, guacamole or unsweetened yogurt, to be eaten with vegetable crudit©s or breadsticks.

ג€¢ If your child is bored with sandwiches, experiment with wraps, pittas, rolls and crackers. Where possible opt for wholemeal varieties and steer clear of jams and sugary fillings, instead using salad, cheese, tuna, ham, salami, cold chicken and savoury spreads.

ג€¢ Other excellent non-sandwich options that will keep your child going in the afternoon include cold pasta salad, potato salad and rice salad.

ג€¢ Alternatives to unhealthy, salty crisps include vegetable crisps, rice cakes, home popped pop corn (unsalted and sugarless) and breadsticks.

ג€¢ Why not introduce your child to some fun international snacks, such as cold samosas, pakoras, spring rolls, dolmades, sushi or crabsticks ג€“ they’re just as much fun as sausage rolls!

ג€¢ Drinks ג€“ at this age encourage your child to drink water and make sure her water bottle is easy to open. Unsweetened juice cartons are preferably only consumed at mealtimes, so that the fruit sugar doesn’t linger on tiny teeth.

ג€¢ Don’t add nuts or peanut butter to your child’s packed lunch. Many schools now operate a nut-free rule due to the increasing amount of children with serious allergies. Even if your child isn’t allergic, get into the practice of never bringing in nut products to a cr¨che, preschool or school environment.

ג€¢ Remember to keep food fresh by using appropriate cool bags and ice packs in hotter weather. Sandwiches can be made the night before so long as they are wrapped in cling film and refrigerated overnight.

ג€¢ It’s always a great idea to include something for messy hands to wipe themselves on ג€“ a sheet of kitchen roll or a paper napkin is idea.

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