We live in a fast-paced world but the good news is it only takes 10 minutes to create a fresh, healthy lunchbox for your kids. Here’s how.
The five best things about a fresh, healthy lunchbox are:
You know exactly what goes into it.
You are in charge of adding sugar… or not.
There is no need for preservatives or additives.
It’s easy to be green and package free.
It’s much kinder on the wallet.
Fresh food lunches are so versatile, the only thing limiting us is our imagination.
The main event
I find leftovers the easiest way to pack a quick, nutritious lunch. Having a food thermos means I can pack a lunch in minutes. Think chicken and rice, jacket potatoes and cheese, curry, leftover roast and veges or even homemade pizza.
Don’t be afraid to use food normally served warm as kids will be delighted to find a chicken drumstick or a slice of quiche. Many foods lend themselves to being served cold like boiled eggs, cheese or roast meat. Sandwiches are great but they are by no means the only staple – pasta, wraps, fritters, savoury scones, quiches, crepes and slices are excellent alternatives.
Pair chopped, salad veges with a dip such as hummus, although there’s no reason to stick to standard staples like carrot or cucumber as roast veges are sweet, coleslaw is crunchy and fresh, avocadoes are creamy and vege sandwiches are yum – a piece of cheese between slices of cucumber changes it up.
Most dishes are perfect with a few extra veges added, just think bolognese with grated carrot, quiches with finely chopped spinach or muffins with grated beetroot.
I often chop a couple of different fruits to make a fruit salad. It’s much more tempting to pick a few pieces out of a pot than eat a whole apple!
Some plain or fruit-sweetened yoghurt is a filling dessert and homemade oat bars or muffins that are low in sugar can keep energy levels up.
So can we do this quickly? Yes, yes and yes. Pick the time of day that suits you best – evenings are fine – and set aside 10 minutes. This doesn’t change if you’re doing one or four lunchboxes as long as they’re primarily the same. Start the clock….
First 2 minutes
Chop some veges – you can always chop in bulk and keep sealed in the fridge for upcoming lunches.
Next 2 minutes
Chop some fruit – wash the fruit at the beginning of the week and have ready in the fruit bowl or fridge.
Next 1 minute
Yoghurt – it only takes a minute to spoon some yoghurt into a tub.
Next 3 minutes
Make a sandwich or add your chicken and rice to the thermos.
Next 1 minute
Add an oat slice or premade snack and/or some dip for the veges.
Stand back, relax, admire….
Judith Yeabsley is a mum of two boys who is passionate about healthy food for kids. She runs a food art website, theartofnutrition.com, focusing on presenting fruit and veges creatively. She also works to change the food environment in schools, community groups and lunchboxes. For information on this and great recipes, see theartofnutrition.co.nz.