I was driving my 8 year old to school this morning and we had the lunch conversation. I mentioned what kind of sandwiches were in his packed lunch and he responded with a groan. Now my sandwiches aren’t THAT bad, (really, they aren’t), it’s just that sometimes we all can get a little sick of sandwiches or wraps every single day.
Lunch boxes, or packed lunches, have been in the spotlight for some time now, with revelations about unhealthy contents to “lunchbox policies” at many schools. I think it’s a great idea to have a policy and some guidance for school packed lunches but I also think that school policies alone are short sighted. How many of us open the old lunchbox at the end of the school day to find a lot has been left because their child was “too busy playing”, “wanted to rush as their friends were finished and already playing” or “didnt have enough time to eat”? I do believe that there should be some protected eating time at schools, to allow children to sit and finsih their lunches before free play.
When it comes to the packed lunch itself, I always include at least one of the following: (this doesnt have to be huge as many can double up).
• A carbohydrate foundation – bread has been the usual lately
• Some protein – e.g lean meat, chicken, fish, beans, egg, cheese, nuts (if allowed)
• Some salad or vege sticks
• A drink (water or milk)
• A serve of dairy food – yoghurt or cheese
The old carbohydrate foundation doesn’t always need to be traditional bread. Sandwiches are a great fall-back for kids’ lunches and can be interesting, creative and fun of course but here are a few ideas I will try, and maybe you can try to “vamp up” the old lunchbox. Some of these are just as portable as sandwiches, some are “sit down and eat” style.
- Pita bread pieces and dip
- Pasta salads (you can use all sorts of really cool pasta shapes)
- Couscous or rice salads
- Sushi (yes, my son’s school has a fridge for lunches)
- Rice paper rolls
- Tuna rice patties
- Savoury muffins – ham, bacon, cheese, carrot and zucchini, spinach and feta (so many flavours!)
- Pita pizzas
- Vegetable spring rolls
- Home-made pasties
- Mini quiche
- Noodle salads
- Soup (with chickpeas, noodles, pasta etc)
Now, if only he would sit still long enough to eat his lunch!