How to pack a healthy school lunch

Packing lunchboxes are not only a time-consuming part of the morning rush, but it is also a true headache for many parents. I’m trying this year my ultimate best at makingng the best lunch possible for my little grazer. How to pack a healthy school lunch? What needs to be put in that lunchbox nowadays? What is not done?

Nutella, jam, or sprinkles have been blacklisted in many schools here in Belgium. And recently the WHO (World Health Organization) also blacklisted ham, salami, and other cold cuts. 

So much has changed over the years. I used to just slap on some salami or baloney onto my eldest children’s sandwiches. Now that the salami is also banned, we are totally lost. You can’t send your children to school every day with a slice of cheese on their sandwich? Anyway, we can, but not without loud protest from those involved. 

So I did my research. I have followed nutritionists and health conscience mom’s on Pinterest and Instagram to see what they do and advise.

START AT THE BEGIN: THE RIGHT BREAD BOX

It all starts with finding the right lunchbox. It’s better to get the non-plastic ones (better for health and the environment), and one with different compartments (Bento). I have a stainless steel one for me, but my 5 year old has a hard time opening it so in the meantime he uses the Yumbox original. It’s completely leak free and has just the right amount of compartments for my little grazer. Follow this link if you would like some tips on how to find the right lunchbox. 

THINK IN GROUPS

Just like us, children need carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats and that on a daily basis. Each one of these food groups is important for a proper development. However, especially proteins and fats are often missing in the lunch box. For the lunchbox I always recommend thinking in 4 groups.

  • Proteins, animal or vegetable: for example, a hard-boiled egg, bouncer, leftover chicken, mozzarella, feta, gouda, tuna or other canned fish, leftover meatballs, lentil salad, hummus, whole yogurt, or tofu.
  • Vegetables:raw vegetables (tomatoes on the vine, cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, celery, lettuce …), cooked beans, vegetable leftovers from the night before, or soup in a separate thermos.
  • Whole grain cereal products:whole meal bread, wholegrain rice cake, wholegrain pita or wrap, wholegrain pasta, or whole rice.
  • Healthy fats:olives, avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

Whether you effectively divide these groups into sections or throw them all into one large salad or wrap, does not matter. As long as you take something from each group, and the ingredients are unprocessed, it will be fine.

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

Ah! Let your child indicate how much he wants to eat. He will feel perfectly full if you fill the lunchbox with fiber-rich, protein-rich and fat-rich food. That is not the case with Nutella sandwiches. Those children seem insatiable. That is completely normal, because white bread with chocolate does not contain any fibers or nutritional values. That is why you can eat a lot of them, but you also get hungry again very quickly.

How to pack healthy school lunch

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