Back to school this week and back to school lunches for mum and dad or if you're lucky your kids. 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 12g 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 of protein - e.g. a 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 - 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, tzatiki or mixing in some cubed cheese or bocconcini can help get this item eaten
If you are time poor these pre-packed humous packs can be combined with pre-chopped up carrot sticks:
Easy to eat fruit such as 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 6g of sugar per serve (most will be from naturally occurring lactose sugar). If your kids won't eat unsweetened yoghurt then some good options are petit miam tubes (5g sugar), tamar valley kids (4g sugar), calci yum pouches (6g of sugar)
For a snack a small 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.
Rachel is a university qualified Clinical Nutritionist based in Balmain. She is also the busy working mum of two teenagers, so is practical and realistic with her advice . Rachel offers private consultations to improve your family's health and well-being. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more healthy tips and tricks.