5 lunchbox essentials for little ones

How to give your kids a wholesome midday meal

Packing a winning lunchbox can often be a tricky task – parents constantly need to balance providing kiddies with nutritious meals and appeasing fussy eaters. With that in mind, Spinneys nutritionist Freda Molamphy has broken down the five must-haves for every packed lunch:

Essential #1: starch

Starches are our primary source of carbohydrate and are excellent sources of fibre. To fill children up until home time go for whole grains; this can be wholemeal bagels and bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, tortillas, couscous, quinoa – there’s lots of variety.

Essential #2: protein

Without protein, kids can easily become run down. Meat, fish or dairy such as leftover chicken, flaked salmon, a small piece of cheese or a boiled egg are all good options, as are beans and pulses.

Essential #3: fruit

Note that one portion of fruit should be about the size of the child’s hand; as they grow, the serving size increases accordingly.

Essential #4: vegetables

While portion sizes are measured in the same way as the fruit, veg can prove to be a more difficult sell. Colourful crudités with a dip work well or how about hiding chopped-up veggies in dishes such as crunchy quinoa falafel (with kale).

Essential #5: dairy

Dairy is an essential source of vitamin D and calcium. Make sure to choose full-fat dairy products; low-fat options often tend to have a high sugar content.

Extra tips:

  • Homemade granola is fantastic as you know exactly what’s gone into it and can control the sugar level.
  • If your child is used to sweetened yogurt, try blending berries with full-fat natural yogurt instead.
  • Steer clear of fizzy drinks as these are acidic and can disrupt calcium intake. Opt for water or milk. If your child prefers fruit juice, make sure it is diluted.
  • For more tips on how to make mealtime fun, try our nutritious twists on kids’ favourite dinners… because who said pizza can’t be healthy too?