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Monday 24th October 2016

Healthy Packed Lunches Tips for the New School Year

25th August 2011

A collective sigh of relief will be heard around the country in a matter of weeks, as many exhausted parents send their little loved ones back to school.

However, with the new school year about to start, many parents begin the process of that infamous New School Year Resolution: Healthy Packed Lunches.

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) is issuing some quick and handy tips to create, not only healthy packed lunches, but packed lunches that are full of flavour and variety.

Rachel Cooke, British Dietetic Association Spokesperson and Bristol Healthy School Dietitian, said:

“What children eat at a young age has a massive impact on their eating habits for life, so it is essential we get the younger generation into choosing and enjoying healthy nutritious food.

“When putting together a packed lunch, it is so easy to go down the usual route of packets of salty savoury snacks crisps, bars of chocolate, fizzy drinks and the same old boring sandwich day after day.  Many adults wouldn’t accept eating the same things day in day out, so why should children?

“Packed lunches can be exciting and full of healthy options and variety.  They need to provide children with the energy and sustenance they need to grow and develop healthily and help them to concentrate in the school class.”

The BDA Tips for a Healthy Packed Lunch:

Back to basics - bread, cereals and potatoes...

  • Try to keep a selection of breads in the freezer for sandwiches. Using a different type of bread each day can make sandwiches more interesting. Try multigrain and seed rolls, bagels, baguettes, pitta breads, wraps…the list is endless! (Children have reported they like meat / cheese or fish etc and bread separate so it doesn’t go soggy)
  • You could also raid the fridge for leftovers - some foods taste just as good cold such as pizza or pasta. Cook extra pasta, couscous or rice. Mix it with cut-up vegetables, a few nuts flaked tuna or mackerel.

Filling the void - meat, fish and alternatives...

Try to include lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, beans or pulses in your lunchbox:

  • Tuna with cucumber, green pepper, sweetcorn or tomato
  • Low fat hummus and cucumber
  • Egg and cress (grow your own?)
  • Cottage cheese and dried apricots
  • Cooked chicken or turkey, tomatoes, and lettuce
  • Peanut butter and banana
  • Grated cheese and tomato
  • Oily fish, such as salmon sandwich or mackerel pasta salad

Remember, if you are using a spread choose a reduced fat one - or do without it completely if you are using a moist filling.
Vegging out or Feeling fruity..?

It's important to eat 5 (or more) portions of fruit and vegetables every day. You won't be stuck for choice when it comes to lunchtime:

  • fresh fruit e.g. apple, grapes, banana, kiwi fruit (children have also said they like different fruits every day and not always the traditional choices e.g.. wedge of  melon / peeled orange / kiwi and spoon / pot of strawberries. Why not surprise your child with a different fruit / veg choice every day of the week?)
  • dried fruits, e.g. raisins, apricots
  • chopped raw vegetables e.g. carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes or a mixed salad
  • tinned fruit in natural juice - pop in a small container or buy small tins with a ring pull

Dairy delights...

Try to include some dairy products in your lunchbox - important to keep your teeth healthy and your bones strong (remember to look at sugar levels – 5g equals about one teaspoon):

  • low fat yogurt - plain or fruit flavoured
  • low fat fromage frais
  • small pot of rice pudding or custard 
  • Milk / fruit-based milkshakes

Tasty treats...

Fancy something sweet in your lunch-box? There's nothing wrong with this. Just try and make healthier choices when you can:

  • currant bun, scone or fruit loaf,
  • plain popcorn
  • cereal bar (remember to look at sugar levels)
  • fun sized bar of chocolate

Put in a drink...

Choose from:

  • Plain water (still or sparkling)
  • Plain milk (skimmed or semi-skimmed) or plain yoghurt combined with fruit e.g. smoothies, pureed fruit with plain yoghurt
  • Pure fruit juice in small cartons or in a small bottle
  • Hot drinks in the winter, e.g. soups

Keep cool...

  • Use a cool bag and pop in an ice-pack or freeze a carton of juice and place in with food to keep cool
  • Keep in the fridge until morning if you make it the night before
  • Don't store your lunch next to a radiator or in the sun

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