As challenging as packing wholesome, nutritious and yummy lunches for our little ones is, it seems to be even more difficult in the colder winter months. Some schools do provide microwaves for lunchbox food to be heated, but if not – don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
A few tips to start off with:
- Don’t forget that children must eat breakfast every day. No lunchbox will make up for the energy they’ve missed from this important meal.
- Embrace variety! Don’t let children get bored with their school snacks and lunches – instead mix it up with different colours, textures and shapes.
- Try to include food items that have different colours – a colourful combination is fun and attractive.
- If you have time, experiment with cutting food into different shapes.
- Always include a bottle of water with every lunchbox!
- Although fruit juices are thought to be a good beverage option, they are high in natural sugar, so it’s best to dilute them with water. Children do, however, use up a lot of energy, so 100% of fruit juice would be suitable for an afternoon activity.
- Include a mixture of vegetables, fresh fruit, protein (lean meat, tuna, beans, boiled eggs or nuts), dairy (cheese, yoghurt or milk) and whole grain bread, wraps or crackers.
- Plan lunchboxes ahead of time. If possible, set aside an hour somewhere in the week to do some planning in terms of ingredients and time allocation so that you don’t end up with no ingredients and no time on a school morning. Make a shopping list and stick to it – it will save you time and money!
- Also try to involve them in the planning process; if they are involved in the decision-making, chances are that they will be more likely to actually eat the lunch.
- Prepare lunches the evening before and keep them in the fridge so that in the morning you can just add any extras.
- Convenience is key – cut vegetables and fruit up (paint with orange juice to prevent browning) so it’s easy for children to eat them and include utensils if needed.
- Get creative! Cut sandwiches or banana bread into fun shapes with cookie cutters or add a little note telling them to have a great day!
Invest in a great thermal lunch box and send the kids off with a batch of nutritious and healthy home-made soup. Our winter favourites include chicken and vegetable, minestrone, pumpkin and tomato. Don’t forget the toasted whole wheat bread roll, crackers or Provita biscuits for dipping.
Quiches are a delicious and easy way to pack in vegetables in a way that kids will love. They’re also the perfect size for little lunches and great eaten hot or cold.
Make a big batch on the weekend and pop them in lunches through the week. Take a muffin pan, spray with non-stick spray and add vegetables/protein in any combination you prefer, whisk together egg, some milk and chosen spices and pour over vegetables, bake for 10-15 minutes.
Broccoli and bacon is a great combo, as is spinach and mushroom.
Winter is the perfect time to put those leftovers to good use. Choose a great thermal lunchbox to keep hot food hot (or use the microwave to reheat) and send kids off with last night’s leftovers. Curries, stir fry, noodles and pastas are all great options.
Healthy banana bread
We love banana bread – it is tasty served warm or cold and is perfect for lunchboxes. Bananas are high in potassium and a great source of energy. Choose a health-conscious recipe to make sure the sugar content isn’t too high.
The perfect way to sneakily get more veggies into their diet. Savoury muffins look and taste great and are also suitable to enjoy warm or cold. Add your choice of vegetables (grated zucchini, carrot, corn, spinach and herbs work well) with some tasty cheese for a delicious lunch. Plus, they freeze very well when wrapping them individually – perfect convenience.
DIY mini pizzas are such an easy choice, super cute and a great way to involve the children in packing their lunch – let them choose the toppings with mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes as good veggie options and mozzarella or cottage cheese with any lean protein would make the perfect combo.
Upgrade the typical sandwich with a winter wrap or pita bread. Fill pita bread, flat bread or a wholegrain wrap with roast chicken, baby spinach, avocado and hummus. This one can be served hot or cold and will be just as tasty either way.
We love snacks that are easy and delicious. Try these with your next lunchbox: dried fruit such as dates or apricots, a small tub of yoghurt, vegetables and fresh or dried fruit onto skewers/kebabs, popcorn or DIY muesli bars.