Healthy lunch ideas for kids
Published: 3 March 2012
Finding ideas to make healthy lunch boxes can be tough, read on to find out great ways to make healthy lunches for your children.
The kids are back at school and once again, it’s time to think about their lunches. The daily task of lunch box preparation can be hard work. For many parents (especially those with fussy children), finding nutritious foods that are acceptable to young ones can feel like a science experiment.
With Term Four now underway, we offer tips to make school lunches healthy and exciting for your children, and easier for you.
A little planning goes a long way.
Taking time to organize your fridge and pantry will speed up the morning lunch routine. Organise what you can the night before whether this be pre-making sandwiches, hard boiling eggs or chopping fruit or vegetables. Have the lunch boxes on the benchtop ready to go for the morning.
Healthy eating often sounds more complicated than it needs to be.
At the Heart Foundation we promote healthy eating because it leads to healthy bodies and healthy hearts. Getting a good start in life is important and children need to be eating well to maximise their health and capacity for learning.
Keeping children interested in their lunch is important.
By changing what you give them it ensures they get a healthy variety and the opportunity to try different foods. Research shows that it can take up to 10 attempts for a child to accept a new food, so don’t be discouraged if it is sent home in the lunch box a few times.
Healthy Lunch Box Suggestions.
Take a look at the Heart Foundation recipe collection for easy, kid-friendly lunch ideas. Here’s a few to get you started:
- Scroggin (e.g. almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds with a few dried apricots or raisins,)
- Tick approved yoghurt
- Hard boiled eggs
- Vege pieces (e.g. carrots, broccoli, cucumber) with yummy dips (e.g. hummus or tzatziki), corn on the cob, cherry tomatoes
- Frozen fruit pieces (healthy and help to keep the lunch box cool)
- Fruit kebabs
- Leftovers (e.g. spaghetti bolognaise, baked beans with grated edam cheese or potato salad)
- Plain popcorn
But what about really fussy children?
How do you get them interested in a healthy lunch? One way is to encourage them to start growing their own. Growing vegetables in a garden outside or planting sprouts and herbs in pots on the windowsill, can be a great learning experience. And children often love to eat their own produce.
Involving children in lunch box preparation is another easy and fun way to teach them about nutrition and get them interested in their lunch. Browse recipes and plan a weekly meal plan together. Spread out healthy ingredients on the kitchen bench or table and let the kids make their own sandwiches and snacks. Be a role model and prepare your lunch at the same time.
Explaining why eating lunch is important can also help motivate your child to eat their lunch. Stay away from discussions about good and bad foods and instead keep messages positive.
Reasons why eating lunch is important:
- More energy for play time
- Fuel for sport
- Easier to concentrate in class
- Important for growing properly
- Important for strong bones and muscles
Water is the best drink for children.
Sugar sweetened beverages like fizzy drink and juice contain a lot of energy (calories) without satisfying hunger. Encourage the use of school drinking fountains, particularly as warmer weather approaches. Plenty of water throughout the day will help children concentrate and maintain energy levels.
By following these tips and providing a delicious healthy lunch box and water bottle you are setting your child up for a much brighter day at school.