It’s that time of year when we send our 3-year-olds to preschool and our 4-year-olds to reception and one of the main worries for parents and guardians is what to put in their lunchboxes. I’m constantly reading articles about what NOT to put in. And many schools have very different views on what exactly constitutes as a healthy lunchbox. Food labels are confusing, lets be honest. We are constantly told to avoid processed food and refined sugars, but then we’ll also be told to watch how much natural sugars we are consuming or feeding to our kids. Sometimes, as mum I feel as though I need a science degree just to understand some of these ingredients and guidelines.
So to help you, this is what my ideal lunchbox for Amber looks like. I’m not saying you should follow it religiously or at all. But hopefully it will give you an idea. And below I have shared some top tips in collaboration with Good4U.
- Protein. Protein should form the base of every meal and is essential for growth and repair. The best options are turkey, chicken, ham (no added water), hummus, eggs, tuna, oily fish such as salmon or mackerel, beans and pulses, tofu and cheese.
- Carbs. Starchy foods are the main source of fibre, calcium, iron and B vitamins. And slow-releasing carbs are essential for maintaining energy levels. The best option are wholegrain and wholemeal bread, mini pitta bread, brown or basmati rice, pasta, sweet potato, baby potatoes, oatcakes and crackers.
- Fruit and Vegetables. There are so many reasons why we should be encouraging our little ones to eat their 5 (or 7 a day) including fibre, vitamins and minerals. Try to limit dried fruit as they can be full of refined sugar. Good options include raspberries, strawberries, melon, grapes and raisins. For vegetables carrot sticks, celery sticks, sliced peppers and cherry tomatoes are fantastic, add a little pot of hummus for dipping.
- Fluids. Keeping hydrated is so important especially when trying to maintain concentration levels. I know that if I don’t drink enough I end up with a headache or feel groggy. So make sure you include water or natural juice.
- Healthy Treats. No lunchbox is complete without treats, right? Crisps and chocolate are frowned upon in schools. Ideally you want snacks which aren’t going to cause a sugar high then a big drop. So I would recommend the super bites range by Good4U. Their strawberry and vanilla bites are delicious on their own or mixed into yoghurt. And their banana and cocoa bites are a great no added sugar sweet treat. They are also a good source of fibre and calcium. I would also add a Babybell and homemade flapjacks, as oats are slow-releasing carbs they’ll also help little ones to stay fuller for longer. I love adding desiccated coconut to flapjacks. Another favourite would be mini breadsticks, again with hummus.
I hope this has given you an idea of what an ideal lunchbox looks like. Please feel free to comment below with what your or your kids ideal lunchbox consists of. I’m always looking for ideas.
*Contains PR samples.