With school lunch box policies getting stricter by the year, we asked dietitian Lucinda Lourens - and spokesperson for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa - for some tips on a healthy, yet kid-friendly lunch box.
Lucinda’s list of interesting sandwich fillers that balance the healthy and still manage to attract the taste buds of children (who can be very fussy eaters):
- Thinly sliced leftover meat, chicken or turkey
- Tuna / chicken / egg and light mayonnaise
- Sugar-free peanut butter or nut butters
- Lean minced meat
- Liver / fish spread
- Cottage cheese
- Light hummus
Tomatoes, greens (baby spinach, lettuce or cabbage), cucumber, gherkins, low-fat cheese, lean soft biltong and lean bacon.
- Water (always!)
- Home-made ice tea
- Low-fat unflavoured, sugar-free milk
- Diluted 100% fruit juice (¼ juice, ¾ water)
Healthy snacks to include in the lunch box:
- Fresh fruit
- Fish cakes
- Baby quiches
- Unsalted mixed nuts
- Roasted corn-on-the-cob
- Low-fat yoghurt or custard
- Lean meat and vegetable balls
- Wholegrain home-made muffins
- Fruit and / or vegetable smoothie
- Home-made banana and nut bread
- Fruit salad with light custard or low fat yoghurt
- Mini-wholegrain pita or wrap with vegetable and protein (cheese, chicken or meat) filling
- Lean biltong, ostrich or game with cottage cheese dip
- Provita or wholegrain crackers with a low-fat / sugar-free spread
- Raw veggies (carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes and baby corn) with a dip (light mayonnaise, sugar-free peanut butter or hummus)
Helpful tips for lunch box planning/shopping:
The five golden rules for a healthy school lunch box are:
- Use a lunch box with dividers to pack the lunch and snack in creative ways! It will also display food more attractively!
- Put your child’s name on to make them feel important.
- Make them feel special!! Write a short note or put a picture of their favourite super hero or family photo in their lunchbox. T
- Resist giving your child money to spend at the school cafeteria!
- Keep it interesting!! Cut out the sandwich into a heart shape or assemble the fruit into the shape of a flower!
- Put fruit and vegetable pieces onto skewers to make kebabs.
SURPRISE your little one with a treat once in a while. A small chocolate or cupcake will remind them that treats can be part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Plan AHEAD! Take time to plan each lunch box. This is not time wasted – remember you are investing in your child’s health and wellbeing and should never compromise on that!
The healthiest type of bread:
- Low GI seeded bread / buns;
- Wholegrain or multi-seed wraps / pitas;
- Gluten- and wheat free options should only be given to children with a true allergy or intolerance;
- Home-made breads are great – especially if you make use of stone-ground flour, nuts and seeds to keep the GI low.