The summer holidays are nearly over, and a new term is upon us. Amongst the usual pre-term preparations, such as buying new school shoes and stocking up on stationery, have you given a thought to what your child will be eating during the school day?
During term time, children spend most of their waking hours at school. Ensuring your child is getting properly nourished can help them to concentrate better, retain information and get the most out of their school days.
It might seem like the easiest option to give your child some jam on white bread with a packet of crisps, but a few simple swaps might make the difference between a child who can’t focus in the afternoon and a child who has enough energy to keep going all day.
Here are my top 5 packed lunch ideas for school children. Some of these require a bit of thought and preparation, but ask the kids to get involved in making their own lunch, even if it’s just fetching you something from the fridge or packing their lunch box – every second counts in the morning rush.
1. A sandwich made with wholegrain bread, spread with humus and filled with some grated carrot and sliced tomatoes. A hard-boiled egg, some cucumber sticks and a clementine complete this lunch.
2. A pasta salad – (make extra pasta the night before). Whole grain pasta, sweetcorn, tinned tuna, cherry tomatoes, chopped pepper, pickled cucumber. You could even add some dressing in a little screw-top pot. A banana and a pot of natural yogurt could be eaten after the lunch, or at break time.
3. A flask of soup. This lunch takes a little more organisation, but I usually have a pan of vegetable and lentil or barley soup on the go in the cooler months. Making a big pot can help the soup last for a couple of evening meals and some packed lunches. Just heat the soup in the morning and pour it into a flask. Serve with a wholemeal roll and a slice of cheese.
4. A pot of finger food. Some kids like to hold their food, so how about a selection from the following list: falafel balls, cube of cheese, cherry tomatoes, mini sweet peppers, olives, hard-boiled egg, edamame beans, chickpeas, cooked and cooled potatoes, carrot sticks, cooked cold chicken, cucumber slices, strips of pitta.
5. A tortilla wrap filled with lettuce, tuna/egg/chicken mayonnaise, carrot, cucumber and radish. A handful of grapes and a pot of unsweetened apple purée for break time.