Back to School Lunches
by APD and Provisional Sports Dietitian Simone Bourner
Kids heading back to school have you stressing over what to pack for lunch? Here's our tips:
A good guide when packing a lunchbox is to think about the 5 food groups: bread/cereals, fruit, vegetables/salad, dairy or alternative, meat or alternative. A mix of these will provide nutrients and nourishment for a busy day of listening, concentrating and playing at school.
Then break it down into four components:
Don't forget to always send a cold or frozen drink bottle with water or a frozen cold pack to keep lunch fresh and safe, especially in summer.
It is best to limit foods high in sugar, salt and fat such as soft drinks, chocolates, chips, juices, cordials and processed treats like roll ups or biscuits. Remember, you provide-they decide. If children are hungry, they will eat what is provided. If unhealthy choices are available, often these are eaten first and the other items come home untouched!
Parents and carers are a significant role model for their children and healthy behaviours, so parents may like to have the conversation about everyday vs. sometimes foods. Ultimately parents are also in control of providing foods for school and setting family guidelines around healthy eating and frequency of tuckshop purchases.
The best choice at the tuckshop depends on how regularly it is being ordered. It is suitable to choose one day each week or fortnight where the child may select their favourite foods (or you are too busy to make lunch!). If tuckshop becomes more regular, aim to avoid fried or creamy options (e.g. pies, creamy pastas) and go for items with salads or vegetables such as a sandwich, wrap, burger or roll. Some tuckshops sell meal items such as rice dishes, pastas or sushi, which are also great choices. In terms of fluids, avoid soft drinks and juices instead opting for milk or water.
We appreciate that it does take time and organisation to send a healthy lunch box to school so in order to have it happening more regularly than not:
Chat to your Eat Smart Dietitian for further help for your busy family