Healthy packed lunch ideas for children

Are you concerned about you children’s health? Aware that certain fats are bad but not sure how to avoid them? Well, read on because we have lots of tips and ideas for healthy packed lunches.

As a parent, you might have gone through the anxiety of wanting to give your child health packed lunches, but also providing something that they will actually eat. After all, a child that won’t eat their packed lunch is probably just as unhealthy as one that eats a packed lunch made up of junk. It’s a huge pressure – I know all too well - but there are certain things you can do to help ease the stress of it all.

The key is in the word "balance"; making sure that your child has all the essential nutrients to help them be healthy and grow, but a little bit of naughtiness so that they don't get hung up about food and see it as being a bad thing.

Lunchbox ideas:

– ideally, these should contain protein (cheese, meat or egg) plus either a vegetable or fruit - if your child won’t eat veg, adding fruit to sandwiches gives a bit of sweetness and adds to their five a day. Using relish or salad cream/mayonnaise will also make it more flavoursome. For example: cream cheese and banana, cheddar and tomato relish, chicken and thinly sliced tomato, ham and tomato, egg mayo with sultanas, chicken and grapes (try it!).

Bread – well we all know that white bread is no good. To try and wean children off white bread if they won’t eat anything else, try making sandwiches out of one slice brown and one slice white – you could even make this into a bit of fun, let them know that it’s a special sandwich for a super special child!

Fruit – children are much more likely to eat fruit if it is already chopped and in its own container or Tupperware, rather than if you give them a whole piece of fruit which can be a bit daunting. Try a mixture of grapes, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries for children that “don’t like fruit” or the more traditional mix of orange, grape and apple (squirt a little lemon over it to help stop it turning brown) for those that do.

Snacks – hummus with carrot sticks, cheese slices and tomato, nuts with dried fruit, homemade cake made with honey (instead of sugar) and banana, root vegetable crisps instead of potato ones (look in larger supermarkets).

If you involve your children in making snacks at the weekend, they may be more likely to eat them in their packed lunch. For example, making healthy muffins with blueberries, wholemeal flour and half honey/half sugar to sweeten. Or slice potatoes really finely, dowse in healthy olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and bake in a hot oven until golden brown, for perfect homemade crisps.

If you’re really at a loss and are not sure where to start, a good place to begin is by first establishing if your child prefers sweet taste or savoury taste. If children prefer sweet taste, try and encourage fruit eating, and for savoury eaters, try and encourage them to eat veggies sticks chopped matchstick thin and eaten with something tasty such as cheese.

They key is to take small steps and to not give up. You will get there, even if you are not sure how! One small step at a time.