This week marks the first week (for costal provinces) of school for the year (starting tomorrow) and I've spent quite a bit of time reviewing last year's lunchbox menu and asking the kids what they liked and what didn't work for them. I particularly remember my youngest coming home with his small side container of butternut untouched because it turns out he only likes butternut in a meal and not on its own. I'm a firm believer in the lunchbox.
I believe that a home-packed lunch is great for a number of reasons including health and money. I enjoy knowing that I have some kind of control on the kind of food my kids consume while a school.Of course packing lunchboxes is not foolproof because on occasion children are known to swap food but I still think my children having a friend's tuck shop-bought sub sandwich instead of the tuna sandwich and fruits I packed for them once each term beats taking my chances with the tuck shop for the duration of the 42-week long school year.
Home packed lunches don't have to be boring and they are a great way of budgeting while ensuring that your children have a balanced meal at school. A meal that is a source of good energy and nourishment.
What is a balanced lunchbox?
A balanced lunchbox needs to consist of as many food groups as possible -- like all meals -- but the most important components are:
1. A Starch: bread, rice et al. These are the basis of the meal and provide energy. Low GI options are best as they release energy at a slower pace and can help your child avoid a late afternoon slump.
2. Protein: meat, fish beans and eggs.
3. Diary: youghurt or cheese for strong teeth and bones.
4. Veggie and (or) fruit: this can replace treats like chocolate or potato chips.
Remember to keep all meals light and easy to eat, especially for younger kids who want to spend a portion of their break (if not all of it) playing. Also consider the season when preparing lunch that way you don't pack food that doesn't keep well in heat if it's summer or food that's too cool for winter.