There is no doubt – mornings are chaotic! It’s usually when holidays roll around that you realise what a relief it is to have a break from the lunch box madness.
If you’re looking for a really simple guide to pack a healthy lunch box – the kind your kids will actually want to eat – then try this easy “1 2 3 -go to work or school” method. It’s also a great guide for us adults packing our own lunches. It goes something like this…
1 Strength food
such as protein for muscle growth and strength
roast meats, beans, hummus dip, boiled egg, fish and/or milk, cheese, yoghurt, tzatziki dip
2 Energy foods
such as grains for energy and concentration
grains including bread, rolls, pita, mountain bread wraps, Vita Weat or Cruskit crackers, rice, pasta, popcorn
fruit and veggies
fresh fruit, frozen berries, fruit salad, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, snow peas, fresh peas, baby carrots, red capsicum, celery sticks, spinach
A healthy lunch box is all about balance and here is where the 1 2 3 GO lunch box method can help you. Don’t get too caught up in the numbers. As a guide a lunch box can contain 1 strength food, 2 energy foods and 3 colours. See the lunch box as another opportunity to think about variety. During extra busy high energy times, growth spurts or hungrier days any extra amounts of food can be added. Sometimes lunch boxes might look more like 4, 3, 2 or 3, 3, 2 or even 0, 4, 0 and that’s OK.
Some examples of lunch boxes I’d prepare for my kids:
1 Strength + 2 Energy + 3 Colours
Cheese stick + Vegemite sandwich + Cookie + Apple + Celery and carrot sticks
Spaghetti bolognese + muesli bar + Grapes
Tuna, cucumber and lettuce roll + muffin + Banana
Cheese and Avocado crackers + Tztatziki dip + Strawberries + Carrots
Chicken wrap + Popcorn + Capsicum + Cucumber
Boiled egg + Cheese and tomato pita + Mandarin + Apple
123-Go works best and will reduce the morning chaos if you’re a little organised in advance. If you can stock your cupboards and fridge with the items you need for the week this is a great advantage (have a weekend list-making session with your kids). You can use your freezer to pre-make and store sandwiches, muffins, scrolls, raisin bread, cookies and frozen berries. Also, buy a few things in bulk as a backup plan for when you run out of fresh ingredients. You can never have too many crackers, dried fruit or tinned fruit, beans or tuna.
Remember, kids like routine. A healthy lunchbox can be repeated if kids are happy. If they get bored, change it a little.
OK, so you’ve packed a healthy lunchbox – now to make sure the contents end up in their bellies and not the bin!
How do you do this? The two key ideas are:
- Make it relevant to them
- Get your kids involved
When the opportunities arises, have conversations about how food helps with energy, variety and growth.
If you want to be more specific you can simply explain that all foods contain different ingredients to help our bodies:
1 Strength food keeps muscles and bones strong so they can run fast, jump high, kick a footy or spin at dance practice.
2 Energy grains give them energy to play, concentrate and learn.
3 Colours add more variety for a have a healthy body and mind.
Involve your kids and let them make choices. Ask your kids which of 1, 2 or 3 they would like and give them a few options to choose from – giving your child a choice is very powerful.
- Would you like apple or banana today?
- Leftovers, wraps or crackers?
- Cucumber and capsicum in your sandwich, or on the side?
Do some baking on the weekend with them for things to pack in the lunchbox. Head to the supermarket and let them choose some colourful fruit and veggies for the lunchbox, or ask if there is something they would like to add to the shopping list this week.
It also helps to get a little feedback from your child. When they come home, ask about their lunch. Did they have enough time to eat? Was it still yummy at lunchtime? Could it be held in one hand while they played?
Here is one of my favourite lunchbox recipes – Muesli Cookies. These cookies can be eaten fresh or freeze them and pop a frozen cookie in your child’s lunch box they will defrost by snack time. And find lots more lunchbox recipes here.
Looking for a little more support and more lunch box ideas? We are running a Lunch Box Packing webinar. Check it out here. Guaranteed to reduce your lunch box packing stress!