Well, the holidays are almost over and the thoughts of many a parent is turning to the dreaded lunch box!
What do I pack? What will they eat? How will it keep it cool? Is it healthy?
Take some comfort in knowing that you are not alone and that many have gone before you, often with great success.
As far back as the post-war years of the 1940s, there has been an interest in providing a nutritious packed lunch for school children.
Around this time, Australia saw the introduction of the Oslo lunch. A simple, easily prepared and packed lunch that consisted of a wholemeal cheese and salad sandwich, a bottle of milk and a piece of fruit.
Indeed, there was so much interest in the humble lunch box, that in July of 1945 you could have attended the official ‘Olso Lunch Conference’ in Sydney, joining with the P & C Federation, Red Cross and CWA.
It seems that we have not strayed far from this time and I am sure that if we took a look inside many a lunch box today, we would see a lunch that very much resembles that of the Oslo lunch.
We would also probably see quite a number of more processed and pre-packaged items too.
Now before you go jumping to conclusions and think that I am against all such items, I will state for the record that I am not. Even the Olso lunch had processed foods and there is a place for these items in helping to create nutritious food with minimal effort. After all, who wants to be grinding their own grain or getting up at the crack of dawn to milk Daisy!
For the average household, it would be almost impossible to avoid all processed foods, however, we do need to be wise about which we choose to include in our children’s diets. Choosing foods that have undergone a minimal amount of processing and foods that have as few additives as possible, will ultimately give our children the very best.
So, the question still remains – what to pack in that lunch box?
A quick search of the Internet will yield a plethora of school lunch box ideas. Or if you are so inclined, try typing the words ‘healthy lunch box’ into a Pinterest search for a visual feast of ideas.
On of my favourite websites for healthy, balanced and achievable lunch box ideas is Fresh For Kids: http://www.freshforkids.com.au/lunch_box/lunch_box.html
Packed Lunch Tips
Whatever your source of ideas, I would suggest keeping the five following things in mind:
- Trial at home first – there is probably nothing as disappointing or guaranteed to dishearten you, as a lunch box returned with mostly uneaten food. Make use of the holiday time to trial some new ideas, get the kids feedback, perhaps make it fun by going on a picnic to give the food a real test run.
- Get the kids involved – they are much more likely to eat what is in the lunch box if they have a hand in preparing it. Even getting their ideas and suggestions can boost the likelihood of success.
- Think about how it will look in a few hours – don’t be fooled by those glossy food photos. Think about how the food will travel and how it will look in a few hours time. Our enjoyment of food comes as much from how it looks as how it tastes.
- Keep it fresh – be sure to include as much fresh, minimally processed foods as you can, but be doubly sure that they food is remaining fresh until lunch time. Ice bricks or frozen foods that can defrost slowly and then eaten are essential components. Again, refer to point one and trial beforehand so you know how long your ‘cool’ will last.
- Keep it simple – your children do not need new culinary delights every day. Focus on providing enough food, which you know they will eat, to get them through the day and balance their nutritional needs with other meals eaten at home.