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Perfect packed lunches

22 August 2018


Soggy sandwiches, squashed bananas and a yoghurt that’s been bashed about. No wonder kids reach for the crisps when the bell goes for break. Charlotte Duck spoke to some food experts to get their tops tips on creating healthy packed lunches that keep everyone smiling


Surprisingly, getting kids to eat a healthy packed lunch is much easier than you think – you just need to plan, prepare and be a little bit creative. Their lunch is something that kids should get excited about, so nutrition specialist Katie Shore (www.instagram.com/katielshore) recommends using lots of bright colours: “Include things like cherry tomatoes, carrots or cucumbers cut into interesting shapes (cookie cutters are great for this), and bright berries. These not only look attractive but are helping kids to eat the rainbow, meaning they will get in more of their essential vitamins and minerals.”


While undoubtedly a lunchbox favourite, it’s easy to get in the habit of making sandwiches that are repetitive and boring. Try experimenting with something new; Sine Siemkowicz of @foodbites (www.instagram.com/foodbites) suggests “tuna, sweetcorn and grated carrot or pesto, parmesan and Parma ham” as more exciting options to the classics, ham or cheese.


You could even be brave and try adding in something that isn’t a sandwich. Katie suggests a frittata: “They can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a couple of days. They’re also quick to make and you can hide lots of vegetables in them. All you need are some eggs and an assortment of vegetables (including leftovers).”


Sine says her kids love homemade sushi in their lunchboxes. “I use seaweed, cooked sushi rice, smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber and mayo.”

Being inventive with food is all well and good but what if your child is a fussy eater? “Keep offering different options. 


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Even if kids don't try it today or tomorrow, their taste buds are changing quite rapidly and one day they will decide to try that food,” says Ciara Attwell, food blogger and author of My Fussy Eater. “Pack lots of different foods every day, including as much colour and vibrancy as you can. Try making some fun sausage and tomato skewers that will have the kids very excited for lunchtime.”


Encouraging your child to eat healthily should extend beyond the canteen to breaktime so persuade them to swap out chocolate bars and crisps for healthier snack options. “Pretzels or popcorn make a great alternative,” says Ciara. “Homemade energy bites and cookies always go down well too. Making your own treats at home means that you know exactly what's going into them. You can use unsweetened cocoa powder to make chocolate snacks such as cookies and cakes. Much healthier than shop-bought alternatives but still super tasty.”


Fruit makes a great snack but it’s not always the most appealing option for kids. “Try to present it in a new way,” says Sine. “Cut into triangles, squares, spheres, sticks, spiralise it, ice cube it, or put it in their drink bottle. You could even make a traffic light fruit skewer with watermelon, mango and kiwi.”

That’s got us salivating but if they’re still resisting, get them into the kitchen with you. “It’s been shown that children are more receptive to eating something they’ve chosen themselves,” says Katie. So why not make prepping tomorrow’s healthy lunchbox part of their evening ritual?




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