With school holidays about to end, it’s time to hit the groceries again, looking for foods to pack for your child’s school lunch boxes. This time, you need to be smart about what goes into your child’s lunch as a lot of products that may be tailored towards going into school lunches may look like good options but are really littered with artificial, highly refined and processed ingredients that should seriously be avoided.
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Choosing the right school lunch foods can be the difference between having a happy and healthy child or an unhappy and unhealthy one. With that being said, in this article, we’ll outline the four best and four worst lunches you can pack for your kids.
Best Foods for School Lunch
1. Whole Grain Bread
Sandwiches are the perfect school lunch food that covers all the essential macronutrients. When preparing sandwiches, stick to whole grain and whole wheat bread slices or rolls.
Not only are they a complex carbohydrate that can provide your child with slow-releasing energy, but they are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibres to improve digestion. Avoid white bread as they usually contain additives.
2. Celery and Carrot Sticks
A convenient and tasty lunch for your child, celery and carrot sticks are easy to prepare and great for children to snack on at lunchtime. This highly nutritious snack is often served with a healthy dip such as hummus, or Greek yoghurt.
3. Cut Up Fruit
Fruit is probably the most obvious choice, Chucking in a banana or apple in your child’s lunch box is the easiest and healthiest thing you can do for your child. Cutting up different fruits and preparing it in a container is also a good option for children who are fussy eaters, or to spoil them with a variety of fruits.
4. Whole Protein Source
Protein for school lunch is an important part of their meal as it helps to keep them full during their long day at school. A hard-boiled egg, lean chicken strips, or putting in ham or tuna in their sandwich is convenient and healthy for your child. These foods can also stay unrefrigerated as long as they are packed well and your child it’s them during lunch.
Worst Foods for School Lunch
1. Chocolates and Candy
Probably the worst food options for school lunches, many lunch boxes around the world still contain packaged sweets. This is because children love them, and they’re convenient to throw in your child’s lunch box.
Chocolates and candies should be avoided as they not only make your child gain weight but can also give them short term energy that can result in bursts before crashing and making them feel tired. The sugars in chocolates and candy can also promote tooth decay.
2. Cereal and Muesli Bars
If you carefully read the labels of cereal and muesli bars, you can see that there are lots of refined ingredients and sugars inside them. Almost all cereal bars are high in sugar and contain no nutritional benefit.
In terms of muesli bars, certain options are healthy, but you do have to be very selective and keep a close eye on its nutrition label.
Chips and lunchboxes have gone hand in hand for many years. Not only do kids love them, but they’re also super convenient and are probably your child’s first choice lunch food.
Chips should be replaced with a healthy and more nutritious carb source as chips are covered in fat, heavily processed, and contain no nutritional benefit whatsoever.
4. Unhealthy Spreads
There are so many healthy spreads you can add to your child’s bread rolls and sandwiches. Avoid spreads that are high in saturated fat, sugar, and heavily processed. Spreads such as jam, chocolate, and sugary sorts can cause weight gain and tooth decay.
Things to Keep in Mind
When at the grocery store for your child, always be sure to read the labels of all products. Looks can be deceiving, and packages can be misleading. This is particularly the case for products that are tailored towards children.
Although a product may say that it’s a healthy and ideal option for kids, by reading nutrition labels, you’ll be able to call a bluff and choose an ideal option. Always stick to common sense and the basics and choose foods that are fresher, more nutritious, friendly to bring to school.
As your child’s lunch will probably not be refrigerated, it’s important to know what foods are suitable for your child aIf your child. Make sure your child’s lunches are prepared, wrapped and sealed appropriately to avoid mould or contamination.
If your child has an existing health condition or a particular allergy to certain foods, always be sure to stick to speak with your child’s doctor or a dietician in regards to what foods they should stick to, especially when you’re unsure on what is safe to bring to school.
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