A few simple and fun healthy school lunch ideas will help you get through the busy week! Childhood obesity is on the rise, and most children do not get enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. Use these tips to ensure your child is receiving the nutrition he needs throughout the day!
Why A Healthy School Lunch Is Important
Giving your kids a healthy school lunch is just as important as giving them a healthy start to the day. Children need to be fueled at school with the right nutrition. Offering packaged food items that are cheap and sugary will cause short spikes in energy, leading to hunger in the afternoon during classes and after-school activities.
Childhood obesity is on the rise, and has become a particular issue in Malaysia. A recent study claims Malaysia is home to the fattest kids in Asia, with over 30% of 5-15 year olds overweight or obese. Unfortunately, the school lunch programs in most schools are not helping with the situation, offering meals full of processed carbs and unhealthy cooking oils. In addition, many schools allow children to buy sugary treats, meaning children are choosing to fuel up on empty calories rather than nutritious options.
Until the school systems make serious changes to help promote the health of our children, the best option is to pack lunches at home.
This can be difficult, especially when parents are working.
Here are some ideas for what to stock in your fridge, and how to pack a simple but delicious and fun lunch.
Fill Your Fridge With These Healthy School Lunch Items
Time is always an issue when it comes to preparing our kids’ school lunch items. The recommendations below are popular with children, but include your child in the decision of which items to stock up on. Children who are included in the meal planning process are more likely to eat the meal, but it also helps set the tone for lifelong healthy eating habits.
Apples, bananas, mandarin oranges, passion fruit, mangoes, grapes, and pineapple. Kids often like the fruit cut up, and including a variety makes the meal colourful.
Carrots, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, celery sticks, corn on the cob, or zucchini. Make sure to always include your child’s favourite vegetables. Lunch time isn’t the best time to introduce new or exotic offerings.
Real cheese slices or sticks, natural greek yogurt, and milk.
Hard-boiled eggs, hummus, tuna or salmon in water, cut up chicken cubes, or lean deli meats that are cut fresh rather than in a plastic sealed package.
Whole grain breads, multi-grain crackers, rice cakes, or biscuits made from whole grains.
Avoid sugary drinks altogether and make sure to always encourage drinking water throughout the day. Milk is also a good option, but avoid flavoured options that contain large amounts of added sugar.
Healthy School Lunch Ideas Your Kids Will Love
Once your refrigerator is packed with whole, natural foods that are not processed or filled with empty calories, creating some healthy lunches is easier than you’d think!
Kids love to dip, so start by including a container of store bought or homemade hummus. There are so many varieties of hummus, you’re sure to find one your child enjoys. Include slices of wholemeal pita bread, chopped carrots and cucumbers, and apple slices for a filling and nutritious lunch. A cheese stick or box of milk rounds out the meal.
Nacho Dip Platter
Start by mashing half an avocado with a few tablespoons of mild salsa. Drizzling lime juice on top before putting a lid on the container will keep the guacamole from browning before lunch. Also add a container of mash black or pinto beans. Include a sliced whole wheat tortilla or baked tortilla chips, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, and some mango chunks. If your child loves cheese, add shredded cheese to the beans, or include a cheese stick on the side.
Easy Bento Bowl
Start by using a whole grain (make this easy by preparing extra for dinner). Brown rice is good, but also try quinoa and millet, which are higher in protein. Add some steamed veggies (carrots and broccoli are winners!), and some chunks of chicken. Include a small container of teriyaki sauce for your child to drizzle over the top at lunchtime!
Once you’ve developed 3 healthy lunch ideas you know your child loves, create a weekly shopping list that includes all the items you’ll need, and make these meals on rotation,
How to Start if You’re New to Cooking
I haven’t cooked my whole life, and it didn’t really come “naturally” to me. I was motivated to learn to cook healthier meals using whole ingredients after having my son, and realising I needed to provide him with the best food to support his growth and development.
Join one of Ankita’s Home Cooking classes to learn techniques for making delicious meals with whole food ingredients to help you gain more confidence in preparing healthy meals for your family.