It helps to break school lunches down into four components: a main, a snack, fruit or veggie snack, and a drink.
The last two are the easiest.
First, cut up some fresh fruit and/or veggies in season. Kids generally love fruits like:
This is great – but most kids aren’t getting enough veggies, so it’s important to incorporate them too. Try adding in some cut up:
– snow peas
– sugar snap peas
– cherry tomatoes
For the drink, pack water in a reusable water bottle. Fruit juice boxes are high in sugar, stripped of nutrition and create unnecessary waste.
Now you’ve got those two sorted, it’s time to move onto the other two.
A good rule of thumb for kids lunches is to include some carbs, some protein, and some good fats.
Sandwiches and wraps
Use wholemeal, seeded bread or wraps, and add fillings like avocado, chicken and salad, egg and lettuce, tuna and salad or cucumber, cheese and carrot. For something different try sushi sandwiches – flatten out a slice of bread with a rolling pin, cut off the crusts, add fillings like avocado, cream cheese, carrot, cucumber, tuna and mayonnaise and then roll them up like sushi.
Mains that aren’t sandwiches
Great if your child doesn’t like sandwiches, or simply to keep their lunches varied (so they don’t end up getting tired of the same thing and then refusing to eat it anymore). Leftovers are your friend when it comes to non-sandwich lunches. Cook a little extra at dinner the night before and you’ll be a step ahead the next morning. Some ideas:
– Pasta salad with chopped up veggies and/or pesto
– Leftover cold chicken and salad
–Quinoa pattiesor tuna patties
– Home made cheese and spinach rolls
– Boiled egg salad
– Homemade sushi
– Falafel balls with veggie sticks and hummus
– Pita bread or wholemeal muffin pizzas
The snack is the perfect opportunity to get some extra nutrition into your child’s lunchbox, but unfortunately, it’s where most of the packaged and processed foods creep in – muesli bars, chips, biscuits. Swap these for more nutritious alternatives and you’ll create a lunchbox that’s a whole lot healthier and also creates a lot less waste.
Home baked biscuits/muffins/cakes/and slices have been a lunchbox staple for decades. They’re ideal for the lunchbox, and if you make them yourself, you’ll know exactly what’s in them (plus you can get some extra goodness in there with wholemeal flour/veggies/seeds etc). There are plenty of great recipes out there – here are just a few:
It’s worth getting a few recipes together and having a baking day once a month so you can stock up the freezer and use as needed.
Other snack ideas include:
– Hummus and carrot sticks
– Homemade crackers
– Full fat yoghurt or coconut yoghurt in a reusable pouch or container
The right lunchbox can actually make packing healthy waste free lunches easier. Personally we’re big fans of the all-in-one PlanetBox – the compartments and dippers help guide you on what to pack and how much, and there’s no need for plastic bags or wrap – pretty important when you consider that the average school child’s lunchbox generates 30kg waste a year! It’s also worth stocking up on some reusable containers in a variety of shapes and sizes, reusable food pouches, and reusable beeswax food wraps. With the right equipment, packing a waste-free lunch is a breeze.What are your top tips for packing school lunchboxes?
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