Considering Jamie Oliver’s rant about school dinners a few years ago, things haven’t changed much. Without naming and shaming the schools my kids attend, the quality of the school meals offered at both places leave a lot to be desired. As the responsibility for ensuring my kids are healthy, happy, well-rounded kids with balanced diets and eating their 5-a-day falls squarely and solely on my shoulders, I’ve opted to disregard school meals with disdain (despite it being a much simpler option; 4 packed lunches is valuable time and effort!) in favour of packing my own kids’ lunches.
The up side: I have complete autonomy over what my kids eat at school.
The downside: I have to find new and creative was of getting good food into my kids on a daily basis.
Hence this article!
For how long has the good ol’ sandwich been the staple of every kid’s packed lunch? Anthony tells me he “despises” white bread, but that’s a simple obstacle to overcome with the easy availability of ‘50/50’ or ‘Best of Both’ loaves. Coupled with a low fat butter or margarine, I fully believe a sandwich is acceptable for a kid’s lunch. The trick now is getting them to make their own…
The 5-A-Day Must
If a child’s truly hungry and there’s only fruit available, they will gladly eat it. I would never force on my kids anything they honestly didn’t like (flashbacks to my mum making me eat porridge and me hurling it back up every morning!), but I know they’ll moan and complain that they don’t like bananas simply because they believe they’ll get a biscuit or bag of crisps instead. No such luck, kids!
The power of the packed lunch lies in the fact it has a totally captive audience. I always throw in a small snack bag of fruit which all of my 4 will (happily?) dig into. Perhaps opening the packet and taking out individual pieces of fruit tricks the mind into thinking it’s as good as crisps? Buying the ready-packaged fruit bags makes this a really quick and easy option.
A carton of good quality pure orange or apple juice is a must, and ensures another tick in the 5-a-Day box.
A SMALL Treat
I do like to give my kids something a bit sweet they really enjoy as well, as I don’t see any problem with a child having a little bit of something sweet, as long as it is controlled and in moderation. A Penguin biscuit or a two-finger Kit Kat works, and neither snack will do too much harm and they don’t contain too many calories or much fat at all.
Fruit and Nut (But NOT the chocolate bar!)
The last thing I throw into each kid’s lunch box is a little snack bag of dried fruit and nuts. Again, these are a quick and easy option and full of goodness; dried fruit and nut bags contain a great range of important vitamins that traditional fruits often don’t, and there are many options that contain Omega 3 as well, so look out for those.