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Packing your child’s school lunchbox can be a stressful and time-consuming exercise, especially when you have to think of ways to entice your child to eat their lunch.

Here are some helpful tips on how to pack a nutritious and varied lunchbox.

Winning lunchbox inclusions

  • Dips and veggie or breadsticks. Try hummus or salsa for a healthy dip option.
  • Salads, but hold the lettuce. Mix together items like chopped tomato, cucumber, corn, mange tout, chickpeas or lentils, with a low fat dressing.
  • Sandwiches, pitas or wraps. Try to find wholegrain options with healthy fillings.
  • Fruit (chopped in a salad, whole or dried), nuts or a cereal bar.

Variety is key

If lunches are fun, quick and easy to eat, children are more likely to eat them. Go for variety and pack smaller food options. This also means children will get more varied nutrition, and be less likely to get bored with their lunch. Another way to avoid boredom is to ask what they want in their lunchbox, or even get them to pack their own lunch one night a week.

Some items that may not work so well in the lunchbox are lettuce and avocado on sandwiches. These go brown quickly and won’t look very appetizing. Avoid food that is time-consuming, like peeling oranges. Give fizzy, sweet drinks a miss; instead try 100% fruit juice or water. Swap items such as biscuits, cupcakes and sweets for healthier alternatives: try apple or bran muffins, cereal bars and fruit.

You’ll find more inspiration for preparing packed lunches here.

Try these easy recipe ideas

Cereal bars

You’ll need approx ½ cup assorted nuts and seeds and 1/2 cup of mixed dried fruit, 1 ½ cups rolled oats, 100g unsalted butter and 3 Tbsp honey.

Mix together the dry ingredients. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the honey. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix well. Then, pour into a baking pan and press down.
Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool for several minutes. Cut into bars while it is still warm.

Pizza pitas

Cut pita breads in half, to give you two rounds. In a bowl, mix together sliced ham, chopped tomatoes (or tomato salsa) and grated cheese. Next, spoon the mix onto one of the pita rounds. Place the other round on top and press down. Grill for a few minutes on both sides. Cut into wedges.

Fillings

Play around with different filling combinations for sandwiches, wraps or pitas:

  • Chicken, mayonnaise and gherkins
  • Ham, tomato and grilled peppers
  • Caramelised onion and cheese
  • Baby spinach, mozzarella and tomato

Tamlyn Vincent