Wondering how to pack a healthy lunchbox for your child every day? We’ve got you covered, so read on.
Here are some handy tips and recipes for a budget-beating healthy lunchbox.
Nutritious, balanced lunches are not only crucial for your children’s growth and development but are also key to instilling children with healthy eating habits that will stand them in good stead for the future, says Melindi Wyma, group technical manager of Eskort and a professional food scientist.
“School lunches set the standard for the types of foods that children should be eating as part of their daily routines. The good news is that with a few small changes to your shopping routine and a bit of planning, you can save huge amounts of time, effort and money and still give them a healthy lunchbox.”
consider your choice of protein
Protein is crucial for active children and teens on-the-go, given its importance to muscle health, bone strength and hormone production. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein for children aged four to eight years is 19 grams per day, rising to 34 grams per day for pre-teens aged 9–13, and between 46 and 52 grams for adolescents below 18 years.
When times are tough, a simple and highly effective money-saver for parents is to swap expensive protein sources, such as beef, for an affordable meat such as pork. “Pork is currently offering households better value for money” says Wyma.
According to Medical News Today, pork also contains all nine essential amino acids, which are vital for physical and mental performance, and support functions ranging from growth and energy to hormone regulation, immune strength and mood control.
Keep your children’s lunchboxes interesting with these tips for healthy, budget-beating lunchboxes
prepare meals the night before
Another big money-saver is “smart” lunchbox preparation that can be done quickly the night before, rather than reaching for expensive pre-packaged food when rushing out the door in the morning.
“Meal preparation does not need to be time-consuming. It also provides the opportunity to get your children involved and teach them some basic cooking skills,” Wyma says.
“For example, there are many fun and interesting variations on sandwiches you can try using classic lunchbox heroes such as ham and polony, which can be prepared the night before.”
add easily packable foods
Sometimes busy parents fall back on expensive snacks such as chips and chocolates. A good alternative, however, is to stock up on easily packable fruits and vegetables, such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, grapes, berries or even sugar snap peas, as well as proteins such as rolled up slices of ham, viennas or sticks of cheese.
These snacks are more affordable and filling for your children and still meet their nutritional requirements.
create weekly meal plans
Creating a weekly meal plan is vital for budgeting and saving on your grocery spend.
“By creating a weekly meal plan and drawing up a careful grocery shopping list, you can avoid the temptation to buy lunchbox and food items that you don’t need, potentially saving thousands of rands in wasteful spending each month,” advise Wyma.
make frozen grapes a staple
Looking for a quick and inexpensive way to keep lunches cool? Then add some frozen grapes to lunchboxes each morning.
“The grapes will thaw by lunchtime, offering your children an added healthy snack, and they double up as ice packs,” notes Wyma.
For more lunchbox ideas, read our article on how to pack a cool lunchbox
As further lunchbox inspiration, Eskort has provided three quick, quirky and inexpensive recipes.
ham and cheese wrap ups
ingredients (serves 4)
- Eskort Picnic Ham, thinly sliced
- 4 wraps
- ¼ cup sweet chilli sauce
- 1 cup grated cheese
- ¼ cup chopped chives
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Fill your wraps with the sweet chilli sauce, ham and cheese and roll them up.
- Cut the wraps into four and place two by two of the cut wraps into muffin tins.
- Bake them for 8 minutes and remove.
Tip: These can be made in advance and baked in the morning or the night before.
ingredients (serves 4)
- Eskort Chopped Ham Roll, sliced into ½cm slices
- 8 slices white bread
- ¼ cup butter or margarine
- 2 tablespoons Marmite
- 4 slices processed cheese
- Combine the Marmite and butter in a small bowl and spread on the slices of bread.
- Add a slice of cheese and the chopped ham.
- Cut the sandwiches with a cookie cutter into all shapes and sizes for your little ones to enjoy.
- Serve with their favourite fruit and drink.
cheesy polony waffles
ingredients (serves 4)
- 2 cups of Eskort French Polony, grated
- 2 cups of white cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 cups of bread or crusts cut into pieces
- 4 eggs
- Heat your waffle iron or toasted sandwich-maker.
- Combine all the ingredients and mix well.
- Fill the waffle iron or toaster and cook for 4–5 minutes per side.