Healthy Packed Lunch Ideas
Does your child have a packed lunch? Make life easy for yourself and keep it healthy. Avoid all the sugary snacks that are so bad for children’s health and education.
Sandwiches are a great way to encourage your child to eat healthy foods. This article should give you some ideas for healthy & practical sandwich fillers for your child’s lunchbox!
Apple and Cheese
This may sound like an unlikely combination – but give it a chance, it works! Grate an apple and some cheese into a bowl and mix them together. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the mixture to stop the apple turning brown. Add to your chosen bread/wrap. Apples are full of antioxidants which can help to protect against disease. They are also a good source of fibre, and are most healthy when left unpeeled.
Banana and Peanut Butter
Peel a ripe banana and cut it either into circles or long slices. Spread some peanut butter over your bread of choice; add the chopped banana and you’re done. Bananas are a really good source of vitamin B6. This vitamin is important for the health of your immune system, nervous system and red blood cells. Avoid chocolate spreads and jams – they aren’t very filling and aren’t a healthy option. A portion of Nutella, for example, contains over 55% sugar.
A container of pasta salad can be a tasty and filling alternative to sandwiches. Try making it the evening before and leave it in the fridge – great for those busy mornings.
- Use whole meal pasta as it contains more fibre than plain
- Use different shapes bows, wheels or twirls – let your child choose their favourite
- Add sweet corn, cooked peas, mange tout or grated carrots to cooked pasta – a colourful way to get more veg into your kid’s lunch
- To give your child some protein, add some cooked chicken (left over from a roast), flaked tuna or grated cheese
- Drizzle over some olive oil or stir in some pesto for a tasty healthy lunch Get the kids involved in preparing their own pasta meal – they may come up with some interesting ideas.
Eating plenty of fruit and veg is essential for a balanced diet, and getting your kids used to eating these essential foods will help them avoid a range of serious illnesses (including heart disease and certain cancers) in later life. Fruit and veg are a natural addition to your child’s lunchbox – they’re an ideal healthy snack, they don’t make a mess, they don’t need much packaging and they’re cheap! There are lots of different varieties to choose from so you don’t have to pack the same thing every day.
Most types of fruit are ideal fillers for lunchboxes, although you may want to avoid using ones that younger children will find difficult to peel on their own. It’s worth leaving the peel on where possible, as there are lots of fibre and other nutrients in the skin – don’t forget to wash fruit that is going to be eaten with the skin on. Some of our favourite lunchbox fruit includes:
- Apples – try chopping into interesting shapes
- Bananas – you can cut a small slit at the top if your kids have difficulty peeling them
- Mandarins/Clementines/Satsumas – easier to peel than regular oranges
- Grapes – one handful counts as a portion
- Pears – if your child only eats apples, try widening their horizons with a pear!
- Berries – strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, buy frozen to save money
- Kiwis – slice in half and your kids can eat them the same way as a boiled egg
If you’ve got a bit of time, you can chop fruit up and make a little fruit salad to put in a small tupperware pot. Shake it up with some lemon juice to stop the fruit from going brown.
Adding chopped fruit to natural yoghurt is also a great way to jazz up both fruit and yoghurt. You can even use frozen fruit, and the beauty of this is that the frozen fruit will keep the yoghurt cool! Add a drop of honey if your kids find the yoghurt a bit sour. Your homemade mix will still be much lower in sugar (and higher in fruit!) than most of the “fruit” yoghurts you can buy in the shops.