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 provide, 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 will often be ravenous at afternoon tea.
- There is more food in the lunch box than your child was hungry 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.
- Your child has eaten food from other children and therefore not eaten what you have packed.
Making it easy…
- Choose two grain foods – Fruit bread, bread rolls, bagels, pita bread, lavash bread or crispbread, noodles, pasta, rice, fruit buns, cheese and ham scroll, pikelets, scones, fruit or savoury muffins and rice or corn cakes.
- Add a protein food – meat, ham, meatloaf, chicken, tuna, salmon, sardines, baked beans, canned bean mix, egg or cheese
- Add a dairy food – milk, yogurt or cheese. Milk can be sent in individual cartons of long life plain or flavoured milk.
- Add fruit – Any fresh fruit such as grapes, apple, orange, mandarin, pear, banana or fruit salad. Tinned or dried fruits are also good to use.
- Include some vegetables. Shredded lettuce, carrot & celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, corncobs, cucumber, potato salad, a small can of baked beans or corn kernels or mixed salad. Salad and veges can be used as sandwich fillings or sent in a salad box.
Here are some more tips for school lunches:
- Make sure your child has breakfast before school. If time is an issue, breakfast can be fast and simple such as a glass of milk with Milo, a piece of fruit, a tub of yogurt. Something quick is better than nothing.
- Pack water to drink. Freeze the 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.
- 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 the night before.
- 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)
- Avoid food and rubbish waste – cut fruit into pieces, use plastic containers, avoid packaged ‘snack foods’.