Good food habits set early in childhood can last a lifetime. Lunches provide around one third of our daily nutritional needs, so it’s important to put some thought and planning into them. Here are some tips on how to prepare a healthy lunchbox.
Seven steps to creating healthy, varied and interesting lunchboxes
- Include a wide variety of foods - starchy foods, protein, dairy, and fruit and vegetables
- Try to offer different foods every day - no one wants to be eating a ham sandwich five days a week!
- Vary the types of bread e.g. pitta bread, bagels, wholemeal rolls - keep a stock in the freezer
- Cook extra rice/pasta in the evening - these can make interesting salads
- Theme your lunchbox on a different country, e.g. Italian - try a pasta salad, Mexican fill flour tortillas
- Home-made soup (in a Thermos flask) is great for cold days, while salads are light and refreshing for warmer weather. Both are packed with essential vitamins and minerals
- Fluids are important for children - up to 6 cups of fluid should be encouraged daily. Milk and water are the best options. Straws and brightly coloured drinks bottles can make rehydrating more interesting!
Five steps to food safety
Make sure your child's lunchbox is clean and safe. Remember that sandwiches containing meat or other foods that require refrigeration should be kept as cold as possible until lunch. Help keep lunches cool and safe by following these tips:
- An insulated box or bag can be used to help keep lunches cool. A small ice pack can also be used or alternatively include a frozen fruit juice carton
- It is important that lunches are not kept in a warm place such as near radiators or in direct sunlight
- Discard any perishable food that hasn’t been eaten at the end of the day
- Wash and dry reusable water bottles, lids and lunchboxes every day in warm soapy water.
- And last, always remember to wash your hands before eating lunch. Here's what should go in a healthy lunchbox.
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