At a quick count I pack over 600 lunchboxes a year! And over the next few years as all my children start school this number is easily going to reach over 750, individual, creative, healthy, delicious lunchboxes each year – What a daunting task!!
It is no wonder, packing lunchboxes is a task dreaded by so many parents.
Now I am certainly not going to claim that by simply reading this blog all your lunchbox dramas will be solved, but hopefully it might make things a little easier and ensure your children has a lunchbox they love that also meets their nutritional needs.
Components of a healthy lunchbox:
A nutritious lunchbox should have all the same components of a
well-balanced meal; half vegetables or salad, 1 quarter wholegrain or low GI carbohydrate, 1 quarter lean protein, and a serve of fruit and milk, cheese, yoghurt or alternative on the side. Of course the exact amount provided will depend on your child’s age, energy needs, as well as the length of time they are away from home.
Ideally whole foods should make up the bulk of the items in a lunchbox, with package foods being limited to 1 item that still has good nutritional value.
Make packets count
Packaged items can be convenient and generally are popular among
children, but ensuring the right packaged items are included can have a significant contribution to your child’s overall diet quality. Let’s think of it this way, by including just 1 packet of chips in your child’s lunchbox each day (which doesn’t have good nutritional value), they will consume 200 packets of chips a year! Obviously this isn’t ideal.
If you do choose to include a packaged item in your child’s lunchbox, dairy, wholegrain or fruit based item can be a good choice. *
Did you notice the giant clause here??
These items can be good, provided they contain little or no added sugar, fat or salt. Aim for a product with less than 15g of sugar per 100g and check the ingredients list to find out where this sugar is coming from. Fruit contains natural sugar so if the product contains actual fruit, about 15g per 100g is a good target. If the product contains no real fruit, but has more than about 5g of sugar per 100g than it is more than likely from added sugar, which we want to minimise.
Aim for a total fat less than 3g per 100g and sodium levels less than120mg per 100g (although this can be tough, but definitely go for 300mg or less). If choosing a wholegrain product, check the ingredients list to see how much wholegrain it actually contains (usually listed as a precent – 50% or more is a good choice) and the amount of fibre, aiming for about 6g of fibre per 100g.
Suitable packaged items could include yoghurts, cheese sticks, UHT milk poppers (not juice – dental nightmare), wholegrain crackers, natural popcorn, canned fruits or fruit purees – but be sure to read the labels!!
Whole Kids Frooshies
The team over at Whole Kids have some great lunchbox products that meet just about every dietary criteria you can think of and their range of Frooshies is a perfect example of a suitable packaged lunchbox item.
Frooshies are a delicious certified organic fruit smoothie that comes in 6 great flavours. They are nut free, dairy free, GMO free, No added sugar, colours, flavours, additives or concentrates, from an Australian company.
It leaves to question what’s in them - well quite simply, fruits, vegetables and grains, that’s it!
The Frooshie flavour range is awesome; Banana and apple, Banana
beetroot and apple, Banana Strawberry and apple, Mango Banana and Carrot, Banana Strawberry apple and raspberry, and, Banana apple apricot and honey - I love the fact that the range has some veggies in there too!
They come in great squeeze pouches which kids love and makes them
easy to fit in the lunchbox and perfect to freeze which helps keep the lunchbox cool and makes a delicious frosty treat.
My 3 little monkeys have been lucky enough to sample the Frooshie
range and the verdict was 6 thumbs up! I really liked the flavours too (Banana, beetroot and apple was my favourite) and the texture was really nice, lovely and smooth not gritty like some fruit purees.
Overall I think these are a great product that definitely adds nutritional value to the lunchbox while still being a little ‘special.’
Whole Kids Prize Pack!!!!!
The generous team over at Whole Kids has got 3 fantastic prize packs up for grabs! These packs are valued at $60 each – which is surely going
to make filling some of those lunchboxes a whole lot easier.
For your chance to get your hands on one of these packs, please:
1. Share this article on your Facebook page,
2. Leave a comment below
3. Pop over to the Whole Kids Facebook page, ‘like’ them.
Winners will be announce on The Kids Menu Facebook page on Monday 30th September 2013 at 7pm and winners contacted via email.
P.S. The team at Whole Kids would love if you could take just a few minutes to complete their survey, thanks: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WholeKidsSurvey
Nikki is a PhD qualified Nutritionist and an expert in children's eating.