Packing lunch boxes is a task that parents do thousands of times. Some find it easy, others find it difficult to know what to put in there. If your child doesn’t eat the food you pack, it doesn’t mean you got it wrong. There are many reasons that food comes back home in the lunch box:
- Not enough time to eat – some children are busier playing than eating. These children often eat more at afternoon tea after school than at lunch time.
- There is more food in the lunch box than your child has room for – children may eat more at lunch one day and less the next. It is hard to judge the exact amount every day. It is important to accept that your child will eat if they are hungry. Don’t get upset if they haven’t eaten everything that you packed. They can eat the rest of their lunch for afternoon tea.
- Your child is not particularly hungry at lunch time. They may have eaten a big breakfast and something at morning tea. If they haven’t eaten much at lunch they will make up for it over the rest of the day.
- Make sure your child has breakfast before school. Breakfast can be fast and simple such as a glass of milk with Milo®, a commercial liquid breakfast drink, a piece of fruit, a tub of yogurt. Something quick is better than nothing.
- Children need 2 to 3 serves of vegetables a day. Include some vegetables in their lunch box. This can include a vegetable based soup, a container of salad vegetables, a small can of baked beans or corn kernels.
- Pack water or milk to drink. Milk can be sent in individual serves of long life plain or flavoured milk. Choose reduced-fat milk for pre-school children and low fat milk for school-age children.
- Dairy foods, such as yogurt, milk, custard and rice pudding desserts can be packed in an insulated bag. There are many bags available that are effective for keeping food cold. Refrigerate the food overnight.
- Freeze water the night before. Pop it in the lunch box. It will gradually defrost and be nice and cold by lunchtime. It will also keep other food cold, such as cold meats, tuna and cheese.
- Variety is the basis of good nutrition. Vary the sandwich fillings, vegetables, dairy foods and fruit that you pack for school. There is no need to include gourmet foods to ensure variety.
- Have a supply of small plastic containers available to pack raw vegetables, yogurt, baked beans, pasta salad, tabouli, couscous salad, sushi (no raw fish for school)