Creating the Perfect Packed Lunch
Do your children get bored with their regular packed lunch? With the perfect planning you can give your child a fun, nourishing lunch. This guide will give you ideas of what to include helping you with variety and avoid you child having the same old monotonous lunch each day.
What to include in a packed lunch?
Your little mite will be really hungry when it gets to lunch time as they have been busy learning, playing and developing. Therefore the first thing to think about is providing them with something that is going to fill their tummies.
Starchy carbohydrates are great for filling tummies and good examples of these are breads, potatoes and pasta. These are great choices as they can be consumed chilled. Nowadays there is so much variety with different types of bread, a packed lunch sandwich can never get boring. These types of food will give your child the energy that they need to grow, play and learn. If you choose brown, wholemeal or granary varieties you child will be getting added fibre to keep their digestive system healthy.
It is important for you child’s lunch to contain excellent sources of protein such as meat, fish, poultry, beans or egg. The reason these types of foods are vital in a child’s diet is because they are constantly growing and protein helps the body to develop new tissue for growth and repair.
Fruit and Vegetables
Another important component of a perfect packed lunch is fruit and vegetables. We all should aim to include at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. A portion for your child is about a handful. Fruit and vegetables can make the packed lunch more interesting as they add colour, tastes and textures. For example you could add carrot sticks to crunch or a banana to mush. Fruits and vegetables provide the body with essential nutrients needed for healthy skin, healthy hair and a healthy immune system. In order to get a variety of nutrients it is important to include a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables in the diet.
Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurts are all excellent sources of calcium. Your child needs calcium for strong bones and teeth. Your child should get full fat milk until they are at least two years old to ensure they are getting enough calories for growth but as they get older you can change to semi-skimmed milk. However you should avoid giving children skimmed or 1% fat milk until they are at least 5 years old as they lack both calories and certain nutrients for development.
By including all of these foods in a packed lunch you can be sure your child is getting the right nutrients for growth and development. You need to be aware that not all children have the same dietary requirements therefore you will need to alter the quantity of foods eaten depending on your child and their appetite. Below there are ideas on different combinations which you may never have thought about but that your child will love.
Let’s get started!
Ideas for fillings and toppings
- Cottage cheese and pineapple
- Egg, onion and salad cream
- Tuna, beetroot and mayo
- Chicken and grape
- Turkey, lettuce and tomato
Have a side of fruit or veg
- Whole fruits
- Jelly made with fruit pieces and fruit juice
- Homemade fruit smoothie made with a variety of fruits
- Stewed or pureed fruit i.e. apple or pears
- Dried fruits i.e. raisins, sultanas or apricots
- Veggie sticks with dip i.e. carrot sticks and houmous or cucumber sticks and salsa
Add some dairy
- Fromage frais or Fruit yoghurt
- Rice pudding
- Greek or plain yoghurt (can be eaten with fresh, stewed or pureed fruit)
- Cheese triangles
- Crisp breads
- Water biscuits
- Rice cakes
- Plain popcorn
- Corn snacks e.g. Quavers, Wotsits, Skips
- Bread sticks
- Plain biscuits e.g. Rich tea or Hobnobs
There you have it a variety of ideas to help you when making packed lunch. Hopefully with the information you have been given above you will be able to make informed decisions as to what would be right for you child because as I said before they are all unique.
Rachel Fitzsimons, Registered Dietitian, DT27002