Lunch Box Ideas for Day Care
Packing lunch on a regular basis for even the most organised of mums can be a daunting task. Not only do you want to make sure that the foods you include are nutritionally balanced but also that your little one has a lunch that they like to eat. So here are my best tips on ways to pack the perfect lunch for day care that ticks all the boxes.
Start with a vegetable
I’ve written about veggies versus fruit in the past, but while we often focus on adding fruit to the lunchbox, let’s not forget the importance of vegetables. When small children are regularly exposed to vegetables, they get used to including them as a regular part of any meal rather than a dinner extra that they are not supposed to like or enjoy. Great lunchbox friendly options for young children include baby tomatoes, cucumber sticks, cut up snow peas and green bean pieces. See my blog post on tips for getting your little one eating vegetables here.
Fruit is a nutrient rich food to add to the lunchbox. But remember, fresh fruit is preferable and fruit juice should be avoided altogether. Young children enjoy bite sized foods so berries, frozen banana pieces, mandarins or a few grapes make great lunchbox options.
Once we delve into snacks for children there are plenty of poor options. Processed rice snacks, bars, twists and packets of biscuits offer little nutritionally and can be sources of refined sugars, starches and added salt. For this reason, nutritious snack options for little lunch boxes include dairy based snacks such as natural yoghurt, cheese and milk, legumes such as roasted broadbeans, wholegrain crackers or homemade options such as fruit and vegetable based muffins and breads. As a general rule of thumb, children under the age of four years will only need one extra snack in addition to their fruit and vegetable snacks. See my blog post on how often kids should snack here.
Wholemeal sandwich or wrap
If your pre-school or child care does not serve a hot lunch, the easiest option and the one small children are most likely to eat, is a simple sandwich or wrap on good quality bread with a little protein or good fat to help keep them full. Look for wholemeal or wholegrain bread or wraps and fill with a little cheese, avocado, chicken breast or tuna. If you are worried about keeping the items in the lunchbox fresh, fresh a small ice brick or water bottle to help keep the contents cool and fresh. See my Sandwich Sushi recipe here.