It’s the end of January, which means that we have survived the first few weeks of the back-to-school rush. Hopefully by now, you have found some rhythm in your routine and all the daily lunchbox preps.
Packing school lunch has always been a challenge for me, even though I’ve been doing it for a few years. I want to give Lesedi healthy meals, but I also want him to have food that he will find filling and fun! Packing a nutritious lunch is one of the easiest ways that we can ensure that our children are fueled and ready to perform at their best.
For this post, I partnered with Rediscover Dairy to give you some ideas and tips about what to include in your little one’s lunch box. Plus, ideas for incorporating dairy into their diet, especially if you’re a mama who struggles in this area. The South African food-based dietary guidelines suggest you and your little one have three servings of dairy daily.
Embrace change and serve smaller portions
The key to winning lunchbox wars is to give your child variety – children get bored very easily and compare lunches with friends, so try to change up what you put in their lunchbox but still incorporate all the food groups. I know it’s easier to pack the same things, but I really encourage you to embrace change and consider items like mini quiches, pasta and energy bites.
If you have a picky eater, small, bite-sized bits of different foods may work better. That way, if they are hungry before lunch or doesn’t finish their lunch in their main-break, they can still nibble on something. Items like apples, diced cheese, raisins, dried mango, cold meat and crackers work very well. Add a surprise treat every other day.
Including dairy in your child’s lunchbox
This is a great way to get a healthy, balanced diet in motion. Giving your child three portions of dairy daily, contributes to healthier bones and their overall health. The calcium found in dairy is good for developing strong bones, and the vitamins and minerals present in dairy helps to support the immune system and overall health.
I have found that Lesedi tends to finish his lunch when the food is fresh, and fun. Dairy is always a winner and it’s easy and convenient to include in the lunchbox. So here are my suggestions for lunchboxes that includes dairy:
- Cheese wedges: These are easy to snack on, and Lesedi enjoys these to supplement an empty-ish stomach before playing soccer after school. The good quality protein will help him build and maintain his body, to keep him preforming at his best!
- Cheese sandwiches: These are a classic – children love them and they can be prepared in various ways. Mixing them up with lettuce, tomato, avo, or hummus adds some colour to the lunch box. Get creative with it by using different types of bread, cutting it into shapes and other starch like wraps.
- Yoghurt: Lesedi enjoys yoghurt because it’s easy to eat and it comes in different flavours. I would highly recommend exploring different brands and finding one that works for your family as some contains fruit bits which most kids love. You could also keep the yoghurt in the freezer overnight, if the next day is expected to be very hot. #MomTip: It also chills his lunch box – no ice block needed.
- Smoothies: They are great for packing in extra nutrients – add milk, fruit, vegetables and even superfoods like chia seeds.
- Dips: If you add items like small carrots or cucumbers in the lunchbox, a dip can be an exciting element to add and they are simple to make at home. Mix 3 spoons of yoghurt with sour cream, 1 spoon of mayonnaise, a dash of garlic powder, salt and pepper. Works great for a chicken mayo sandwich too.
It’s important to give them some form of dairy with every meal, to make sure that the whole family gets all the essential nutrients and stay healthy.
Get them to pack lunch with you
I discovered most of my son’s lunchbox preferences when I started involving him in the lunch preparations. Prior to that, there was food I was packing that he didn’t necessarily enjoy and he never told me. If they are involved in the process, they are more likely to finish their lunch. As a loving parent, you can use it as an opportunity to educate your child on the importance of healthy food and also give them some responsibility, that doesn’t feel like a chore.
What are some of the dairy products you enjoy packing in your little one’s lunch box? Let me know in the comments below because I am always on the search for more tips and ideas. You can follow ReDiscover Dairy on Facebook for some other amazing ideas!
Modern Zulu Mom