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I think just about every mother wishes for their child to eat a healthy lunch but knowing how to do that and making it work when time is limited is a big challenge. I’ll be honest, the issue of food and kids is something I have found really stressful. Over the years I have learned that once I’ve done my research, I just need to do what I feel is best and trust myself. We have a lot more information about food and what is in it, along with a lot more choices than was available when we were kids. Whilst this is mostly a good thing, it’s also got a downside. Growing up, my mum fed us the same things for most of my childhood – it wasn’t super fancy or ‘superfood’ but it wasn’t out of packets either. It’s a great reminder to me that simple food is a great option for parents and something kids can really enjoy too!
While at times I have felt pressure and stress about what I feed my children (both from myself and other people) I have learnt to relax and feel OK about the ‘lunchbox battle’ and have learnt that a simple healthy lunch can be a winner!
So what is a simple lunch? Well, my lunchbox growing up consisted of a vegemite sandwich on white bread (there, I said it!), a muesli bar and piece of fruit I rarely ever ate (and I survived!). As an adult, I love fruit, like vegetables and LOVE mushrooms (and eat them everyday). I mostly only buy wholemeal bread and am considered in a healthy weight range. It’s encouraging to remember that the good habits we can provide for our children are things they will take with them into later life.
As much as we’d love our children to eat a really healthy lunch, for a host of reasons this is more challenging for some of our kids than others. Some parents find a good way around it is to make the lunchbox more fun and so there is a trend towards making sandwiches in the shapes of characters or fairies. It is a cute idea and for the mothers out there who are creative and have that little bit of extra time it is a lovely idea but for me this is not something I will ever have time for. My kids are lucky if their hair gets brushed in the morning before school!
I make sandwiches for my kids but tend towards using spreads as this is quick and easy plus my kids love them as their lunchboxes come home from school empty each day. I do try to mix it up sometimes and have found a few other spread alternatives that they like. Including:
- Pesto and Cheese (fancy I know)
- Plain Cheese with cherry tomatoes in their lunchbox they can eat while eating the plain cheese sandwich
- Avocado and cheese
- Pesto and cheese and avocado (they never even know the avocado is in there)
- Vegemite and cheese
- Honey (as a treat on occasion)
I do want my kids to eat fresh food in their lunchbox and focus this mainly on fruit. I buy the fruit they like and will eat rather than what is cheapest. Fruit is always one of the bigger costs in our shopping but I can’t see the point of buying something they are going to throw out. Both of my kids like different fruit (except for strawberries which are always a hit) so fruit is one place I tend to spend more money on. The fruit complements their sandwich lunch perfectly and gives them something sweet to enjoy that is also good for them.
My youngest daughter loves yoghurt and wants it everyday but my older daughter is not a fan of yoghurt at school. I make my own yoghurt at home because I can control how much sugar is in it and I think it tastes better than any other yoghurt on the market. I am also a BIG fan of the reusable squeezie pouches for yoghurt. It saves me a fortune, my daughter LOVES sucking yoghurt out of these and it is good for the environment. They are easy to clean and fill and I can control what goes in.
Both my kidlets love crackers and I mix them up every week. One week it could be cheese rice crackers, the next week savoury biscuits and the next week seaweed rice crackers or sometimes a portion of sultanas. I always buy the bigger pack and portion them out every week as it saves money and provides more variety.
One thing you will have noticed from my photos is I love a good reusable container. I know kids love packets and fun things and luckily there are so many products on the market which are reusable and still fun. The only effort is a quick wash every night with warm water but I think it makes their food seem more interesting and fun and I don’t really have to put in any extra effort! It also saves me money in the long term and I have found all of the reusable products I use to be great!
At the most, when I have time to myself, without having pre-prepared or portioned anything out already, I can make both of my daughters’ lunches exactly as described in about 10-15 mins. I don’t ever bake anything in advance – it is just spread on bread, cut up fruit, yoghurt and biscuits. Simple, easy and healthy.
Preparing school lunches doesn’t have to be stressful – it can be fun! The best approach is to find what works for you and your children and feel good about it. Make sandwiches and snacks that your kids enjoy that allow you be efficient whilst keeping their best interests at heart.
What are some of the ways you make the most of your children’s lunches each day?