“Rachel, what can I pack in my kid’s lunchbox?”
This is a very common question that I have been asked in the clinic by parents who just feel lost of what to feed their children at school. And I think it is completely understandable given the requirements that are also given to parents around school lunches.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s amazing that schools are encouraging parents to pack healthy lunches for their kids! I am all about teaching kids to fuel themselves with amazing nutrients BUT this can also put a lot of pressure on busy families.
Alongside the healthy lunchboxes, that some schools are implementing, is the restrictions associated with food allergies. These protocols can vary a lot from school to school, with some being completely nut free while others just ask parents to avoid packing certain foods. For those that have strict allergy protocols in place, this can make it very difficult for parents to come up with healthy ideas. I know for me and my family, we love adding nuts and nut butter to just about everything! I love having the healthy fats and protein that nuts can provide. However, when these restrictions are put in place, we have to put our creative hat on to ensure nutrient requirements are still being met.
List of healthy lunchbox ideas
Below I have included a list of foods to consider when packing school lunches. Please make sure these foods meet the school requirements prior to packing them for your kids.
- Trail mix: may include dried fruit, seeds, plain popcorn and nuts (if permitted)
- Muffins: try including grated vegetables into these muffins to add extra nutrients (recipe coming soon!)
- Plain Yoghurt: try mixing fruit or honey in initially while getting use to the flavour
- Rice crackers
- Boiled egg
- Wraps: add lots of vegetables or banana and nut butter can be a quick option (if permitted)
- Sandwiches: consider whole grain bread for added nutrients
- Pasta: if there are no heating facilities, a cold pasta salad could be an option
- Salad: consider adding seeds and quinoa for long-lasting energy
- Banana Bread: ideally with limited or no sugar
- Hummus or avocado dip: dips can be a great way to encourage kids to eat vegetable sticks
- Nut butter: if permitted, try packing peanut butter to eat with fruit to boost protein content
And finally, always aim to pack at least 1 piece of fruit and 1 vegetable.
Keep an eye out for lunch box recipes that will be released shortly.