With September fast approaching, for many Back to School means sending your kids off each morning with a healthy packed lunch as parents up and down the country have hygiene concerns around Covid.
The viability of free school meals may come under scrutiny as the government look to draw back spending in this area due to the economic support needed across other areas in response to Covid-19.
Research suggests the majority of parents (57.3%) are now more inclined to send their kids to school with a packed lunch [Harris Interactive] to have more control over what they are eating and to lessen the risk of contamination.
We’ve put together this helpful guide as well as some useful suggestions from Jane Clarke – expert nutritionist & Founder of Nourish to ease you back into the Back to School hubbub.
A Balanced Diet
To us parents it may seem as though the school day whizzes by but for a child it drag on if they are not given the right energy from their food sources. A balanced diet is important to give your child the energy they’ll need to keep them stable throughout the day and should include:
- Carbs such as bread, pasta, rice or potato
- Protein such as meat, fish, eggs or beans
- Dairy such as cheese, yogurt
- Fresh vegetables, salad or fruit
Packed Lunch Carb Inspo
Nothing quite like preparing sandwiches, zipping up the packed lunch and then your child busting you and going through it screaming ‘they don’t like bread’. You can head this battle off at the pass by showing them there are other tasty carb options available. You know the saying, pick your battles!
Pasta dishes are easy to cook, fast to prepare and taste yummy in a wide variety of cheap and affordable options including those suitable for vegetarians.
- Pesto sauce
- Basic tomato & basil sauce
- Cold pasta salad
- Tuna & sweetcorn
We recommend cooking the pasta the night before and storing in the fridge. Before serving you can add extra ingredients such as boiled vegetables, salad or meat and then finish off by mixing in your choice of sauce. To add additional flavour and avoid the pasta from tasting dry we recommend adding a drop of olive oil to the pasta before mixing in ingredients.
Are your kids tired of the usual sandwich fillings? .Easy and quick to prepare on busy mornings, wraps make a great option for kids who are bored of sandwiches. They also hold together better and taste great with dips such as Chive & Onion or Mayonnaise.
- Bacon, lettuce & tomato
- Tuna salad
- Ham & cheese
Wraps are easy to prepare and versatile, encouraging children to assist in the preparation process whilst giving them the opportunity to learn about the different types of ingredients, as well as encouraging them to eat healthy and nutritious foods. We recommend packing wraps in tin foil to keep them tasting fresh and avoid them falling apart.
With the main meal prepared and packed you can get creative with some nutritious healthy snacks which will provide them with the energy they’ll need throughout the day.
Healthy snack ideas:
- Fruit Salad
- Yogurt with granola
- Cereal bar
- Healthy crisps variety
- Olives with feta cheese cubes
- Hummus with carrot sticks or sliced pitta
- Crackers with ham & cheese cubes
Weekly Lunchbox Planner
Take the stress away during the week by creating a weekly meal planner for your child’s packed lunch. This will also make shopping easier as well as giving you time to plan more varied and exciting meals and snacks.
To save costs and time, consider using leftovers from dinner for your child’s packed lunch the following day. Foods such as chicken and pasta can easily be stored overnight in the fridge and taste just as good when added to sandwiches, wraps and pasta.
Jane Clarke, Expert Nutritionist Top Tips
There’s an enormous amount of evidence to show that our kids are happier, healthier and do better at school when they receive regular nutritious meals.
Jane Clarke, founder of Nourish shares her top tips for keeping your kids sustained throughout the day.
- Aim for three meals a day, with two snacks between, to keep blood sugar levels stable.
- When you’re packing their lunch, a fresh tuna sandwich on wholemeal bread, or a mackerel salad bulked up with wholegrain pasta and lots of vegetables, is a good option – research has shown that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids appears to boost brainpower.
- Add a piece of fruit for vitamins, antioxidants and fibre – and because it’s a naturally sweet treat.
- Don’t forget to send them in with a water bottle. Lack of water induces tiredness, grumpiness and lack of concentration – children who are active should drink 6-8 small glasses of water every day. Older kids can drink 6 large glasses a day.
Packed Lunch Storage Solutions
With your Back to School lunches planned, you will need something to put them in. When choosing a lunchbox for your child we recommend choosing once with the following benefits:
- BPA Free ensures the lunchbox is safe to store food.
- Multiple compartments make packing easy and keep meals and snacks secure.
- Seal tight pots are perfect for storing dips and yogurt.
- Use reusable bags with pinch lock seals for keeping sandwiches and snacks protected which are both dishwasher and microwave safe.
Takenaka 2-tier bento box
A super stylish way to take a packed lunch school. A traditional Japanese lunch box with two levels. Comes with a plastic fork too.
Brightly coloured and with rounded corners, the lunch box holds a lot more than you’d think. A great choice for kids who want something a bit different. It comes with an elasticated strap to keep the two tiers locked together.
Costs £22.50 and available at https://www.souschef.co.uk/
Smash Lunch Bags with Water Bottle
Practical lunch box that can be wiped clean. Comes in a few different ranges such as Unicorn and Rocket designs. Water bottle slots into the side and holds 500mls.
Fairly large space inside, so no squishy sandwiches or crushed crisps or yogurt pots. Exclusive at Sainsbury’s at costs £7.50 you can see the wider range at www.smashglobal.co.uk
Graze Super Snackers Bars
These snack bars are a massive hit in our household. Three packs demolished in just a few days. 50% less sugar than the average cereal bar and they come in three yummy flavours, chocolate, strawberry and toffee apple.
Pack of 4 costs £6.00. Available directly from www.graze.com
Don’t miss out on 30% discount when using code KIDS30.
Ten Acre Crisps – Handcooked Vegan Crisps
Delicious and healthy alternative to regular mainstream brands. Grown on a farm in East Anglia using sustainable technologies. Vegan, gluten free, dairy free and MS free making these a top choice for families. Many people have different dietary requirements that can make finding a suitable brand of crisps hard work.
Ten Acre Crisps come in a variety of flavours such as salt & vinegar, salted, cheese & onion, sweet chilli and hickory BBQ. If you like your crisps super crunchy and ethically grown then these are a great choice for those lunchboxes. Each packet costs approx. £0.89 and can be bought from Amazon, Holland & Barrett and Waitrose.