Recently, I attended the Creating HealthyLunchboxes workshop by Wick Nixon, from Wicked Wellbeing. This workshop was one of six free Sustainable Urban Living Workshops provided by Parnell Trust, thanks to a generous grant from the Waitemata Local Board. Wick taught us a few easy and healthy recipes from her gorgeous book ‘21 Day Marvellous Lunchbox Makeover’, which is packed with healthy ideas to spice up your lunchbox.
Earlier this week, I made one of Wick’s recipes, Pizza Pinwheels, for the kids at Parnell Early Childhood Centre. I was really lucky to have two amazing chef assistants, and together we prepared and baked a couple of batches for Afternoon Tea.
The pinwheels were an absolute hit and so quick and simple to put together. They can also be made in advance, frozen and then baked as you need them, which is always handy during a busy week.
In your child's lunchbox you should strive to include at least one ingredient from each of the four food groups. Opt for whole or minimally processed foods and try to avoid the colourful and bright packaged foods aimed at children, as they are usually high in sugar and salt and low in nutrients. If in doubt, check the nutritional labels and compare.So how do we know our child’s lunchbox has everything kids need to get them through the day?
Here are some ideas for each food group:
Dairy: plain yoghurt with berries, cheese cubes, cottage cheese with carrot sticks
Grains: wholemeal sandwiches, wraps, pita pockets, couscous or pasta salad
Meat and Meat Alternatives: tuna, boiled egg, lean meats, falafel, and hummus
Fruits and Vegetables: vege sticks, cherry tomatoes, fruit salad
Water and milk are the only recommended drinks for everyday consumption.
It’s advisable to place the water bottle in the freezer overnight so it’ll keep the food in the lunchbox cool and safe.
Waste-free lunchboxes are the way to go, as we’re all responsible for looking after our environment and teaching our children the benefits of reducing waste and reusing resources.
Children, just like us, will appreciate variety in their lunches, as eating the same marmite and cheese sandwich day in, day out, will certainly get boring and more likely to put them off eating their food.
You can make lunchbox items more interesting by using cookie cutters to shape sandwiches or cut whole fruits into smaller pieces and thread it through a mini kebab stick, for example.
Leftovers also make a great addition to the lunchbox and, just like Wick’s Pinwheels, preparing batches of different items and bulk freezing them, will keep the variety going without being too much hard work.
My top tip, as you probably know by now, is to get the kids involved in the food preparation process and that is also true when loading up the lunchbox. It’s even better if you lead by example and prepare your own healthy lunchbox at the same time. Kids will love the fact their pack lunch is just like yours and it will make them feel very special.