Our caregiver’s guide to packing a healthier lunch at school will help you understand what foods to pack to give your ward the extra energy they need to get through the day.
Eating healthy is an essential aspect of healthy living, and it becomes even more crucial when you are in your growing years. It’s important to ensure that as a caregiver, you get all the right nutrients in the right quantity, and it should be easy to eat on the fly as well as presentable since the child might be busy with a lot of work at school.
It is a challenging task for the caregiver to pack a lunch that is appreciated. You must adjust and find the right way to deliver the maximum nutrients to the child without troubling them or being troubled yourself. Packing a healthier lunch makes sure they have enough energy to get them through the day.
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Choose Your Nutrients
Choosing the nutrients in the correct form is the first step of packing a healthier lunch for school. For this, you must include the following in the meal.
- A fruit: You must keep fruit in the meal you plan for the child. It could be fruits, for example, melons, citrus fruits, apples, etc. You can cut these fruits in a fancy form and draw the child’s attention. Fruits are high in vitamins and minerals, which are essential for growth, and fiber, which helps in digestion
- Vegetables: You can have two or more vegetables in the meal. Vegetables (especially the leafy ones are a great source of nutritious content that is low in calorific value. These vegetables may include carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, capsicum, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes.
- Whole Grain: You must have whole grain in the meal in any form for the child. Whole grains contain proteins, fibers, antioxidants, and loads of vitamins and minerals. The whole grain could be in any form, including bread, quinoa, rice, oats, pasta, etc. It gives a rich source of carbohydrates for the body and needs to be present only in a limited proportion.
- Meats or pulses: You need to have a source of protein in the meal. It could be from meat or pulses. The choices could range from nuts, seeds, beans, hummus, turkey, chicken, or eggs.
Determine the Quantity
Decide how much the child would have in a single meal at school. Packing less quantity of food will only leave the kid hungry and not deliver the correct amount of nutrients required for the growth. Whereas, if the quantity is more, the child might not complete the meal, and the food would go wasted.
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Present It Well
Presentation is a crucial step that goes a long way in making sure that you like the food that you are eating and can eat it quickly. The different types of presentation could include the following:
- As kebabs: You can cut the fruits and vegetables in the form of kebabs or small cubes and stick them into a skewer. Make sure the edges of the skewer are rounded.
- Different shapes: You can use cookie cutters to cut the fruits and vegetables into different shapes. The fruits and vegetables in different shapes might interest the child. If you are not using the cookie cutter, cut the vegetables and fruits in the same shape to complement each other and look consistent.
- Colors matter: Colors go well with kids. Make sure that you have different colors on the platter to make the lunch more palatable for the child.
- Divided boxes: Boxes that have multiple compartments might be well for kids. They like to take their pick from a variety of items. Separate sections for food might be a good option for children.
- Define the cuisine: You can change the cuisine and choose from a different variety of food. You can also have a theme for the lunchbox you pack.
Present It Well
You can add some snacks to the meal. The snacks can act as fillers between the meals. Pack a small box with nuts, raisins, string cheese, berries, yogurt, etc.
Sandwiches, fruit salads, and pasta are popular meals and snacks for school that has been loved by kids time and again.
Water Is a Must
Water is a must for kids. Drinking adequate amounts of water ensures that children do not get dehydrated. Kids love running around and playing, so it is easier for them to get dehydrated, especially in the summertime.
Encourage the water intake for kids. You can send some fruit-infused water for the child as plain water might not be very appealing to the child every time. It is a must for kids to have more water, as it is lost in the form of sweat during the kids’ daily activity.
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Saving time for the child while having the meal is essential. The meal might not be too prolonged to ensure you keep the child interested in the meals. On the other hand, you must save time yourself while preparing the meal.
- Keep the fruits and vegetables chopped on days with a lighter workload.
- You can ask the child to help you with meal preparation. It might be an engaging activity for the child and help you bond with them as well.
- You can pack the lunch boxes the night before school to ensure that the child does not forget to pack the meal. You can ask them for choices once in a while to encourage that their opinion is welcome and accepted.
- Send cutlery to ensure that the child learns the correct etiquette in public.
- Multiple lunch boxes can be prepared at a time and stored in the refrigerator to save time.
Some Final Tips…
As a caregiver, you must ensure that you provide the right amount of nutrients to the child and also in a palatable form to make sure that they do not look at it as a task to complete their lunch boxes.
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Make meal preparation a fun activity with the child that they look forward to every night. Nurture the right eating habits and etiquette in the child and see them grow into better individuals. Try and take inputs from the kid to see what they enjoy having for lunch and pack the lunch accordingly.
Ensure not to have the same kind of food on two consecutive days as it might become boring for the child. Think out of the box and surprise the kid with innovative lunch ideas. You can ask them for their ideas for school lunch as well and see if you can work something out.