Nutritionist and Food Writer, Lorna Rhodes shares her healthy packed lunch tips in time for Back to School.
Providing children with healthy packed lunches can be a challenge, especially when they start to get fussy, having spied the contents of other children’s lunchboxes resulting in some pestering for less nutritious items. The way to overcome this is to include some healthy treats such as home-made banana muffins. Made with Oatly oat drink they are perfect for lunch-boxes, so make plenty and freeze some for busy mornings when you need to top up the menu.
Making sure your children eat a balance of healthy foods is made easier if you get them to write a list of their favourite foods. Then you can work out what will be suitable for lunch-boxes. Encourage them to help put a week’s menu together and praise them if they choose well.
Here are some top tips to help keep your family’s lunch-boxes a fun thing to open:
1 Start off by choosing an insulated lunch box and include a small ice pack to keep food fresh. You can always include a small bottle of frozen juice or water that will do the trick too. A drinks bottle filled with Oatly Chocolate will mean that the kids can have a chocolate hit, while you’re happy knowing that they are getting a drink. And this is not just any drink, it is calcium and vitamin enriched, contains fibre and is naturally low in fat and added sugar (only 3g of the sugars per 100ml is added sugar: the rest is natural sugars from oats).
2 Brown, wholemeal and seeded breads are good choices, but if your child refuses to eat wholemeal bread, you can introduce it by having one slice wholemeal and the other white for your child’s sandwiches.
3 Cut down on the amount of butter or margarine you use, and try to avoid mayonnaise. Some fillings, such as egg mayonnaise, do not need butter as well.
4 Always include at least one piece of fruit and make it easy to eat, for example, remove orange peel or cut a kiwi fruit into wedges to eat like a slice of melon. Or chop it up and put into a small container.
5 Water and pure fruit juices are popular healthy options so try to avoid fizzy sugary drinks. Or make a smoothie with Oatly from your favourite seasonal fruits.
6 Offer a dessert or a cake as a sweet treat once a week to lessen the pestering for sweets or chocolates. Make gorgeous chocolate rice puddings with Oatly Chocolate oat drink and put into a little plastic container, don’t forget a spoon! Or add a square of home-made cake like lemon drizzle cake or apple cake.
7 A good alternative to sandwiches is a pasta or rice salad; add some canned beans, raw vegetables such as sweetcorn, peas, chopped peppers or grated carrot. The more vegetables you add to the salad the more satisfying it will be, and they all contribute to your child’s five a day.
8 For older children, include a small flask of soup filled with home-made tomato soup made with Oatly or a Chunky Vegetable Soup and some bread sticks.
9 Regular sandwiches can get a bit boring for children; try filling pitta pockets with for example strips of chicken and your favourite choice of salad for a low fat alternative. Alternatively make a wrap as the large flat wrap breads are easily available in supermarkets and come in different flavours – another good way of sneaking in extra salad.
10 Include some carrot sticks in the lunchbox as the beta-carotene that the carrots contain is a good antioxidant. Celery and trimmed radish are also nice and crunchy, if liked.
11 If time permits, a real treat could be some individual pizzas made with Oatly oat drink. Try this simple recipe for picnic pizzas which are great for lunch-boxes, picnics and play dates too. The topping can be varied with different vegetables and is a great way to use up oddments and leftovers in the fridge.
12 Oatly Peperami scones are a great home-made idea to include in lunch-boxes and all of the family will enjoy these as a change from sandwiches. Here the scone dough is made with Oatly oat drink and if you prefer a vegetarian option, substitute the Peperami with sun dried tomatoes. It’s always good to have some extra stored in the freezer for emergencies in case you run out of sandwich fillings mid week.
13 For children who have an active day with sports, they may need some extra carbohydrate to keep them going, make some coconut rice pudding with Oatly and add a pot of it in their lunchbox, don’t forget a spoon.
14 Remember, small changes to what children eat now can have a big impact on their diet and health in the future.
Special thanks to Lorna Rhodes for sharing with us the healthy packed lunch tips. Now are there any healthy lunch box tips you would add to this list?
Thanks for reading!
The Lunchbox Lady x