Tips on a healthy, kid-friendly lunch box

By Latoya Newman Time of article published Jan 9, 2019

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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
  • Avocado
Add ons:

Tomatoes, greens (baby spinach, lettuce or cabbage), cucumber, gherkins, low-fat cheese, lean soft biltong and lean bacon.

Healthy drinks:
  • 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:
  • Popcorn
  • 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:
  1. Variety
  2. Balanced
  3. Colourful
  4. Fresh
  5. Fun
  • 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.

GET CREATIVE : Have a look at AND for fantastic ideas!!  
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.

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