Keeping food fresh and safe
Before preparing your child’s lunch box, always wash your hands well with warm soapy water and make sure all chopping boards and utensils are clean and dry. Perishable foods such as diary products, eggs and sliced meats should be kept cool and eaten within about 4 hours of preparation.
|Yum Yum Kids has a fantastic range of insulated lunch boxes which help to keep food cool and safe. Click here to find out more.||
To keep kids lunches cool and safe put a frozen bottle of water in the lunchbox in the morning. When it’s time to eat, the drink will be icy cold and the food will be beautifully cool and safe to eat! An insulated lunch box is also a good idea, as it will keep the food inside safe and cool. If you make lunch the night before, keep it in the fridge (below 5°C) overnight. Re-usable sandwich and snack bags are a better option than plastic wrap, as it’s easier for children to manage (and less polluting). For hot food – use a non leak thermos, such as the Foogo Food Jar, to keep foods like soup or pasta delicious and hot. Remember - keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
Yucky Soggy….Stinky Lunch!!
Kids (like most people) generally aren’t too keen on soggy sandwiches or lunchboxes that smell!! You can stop sandwiches from getting too soggy by minimizing the spreads on sandwiches and removing seeds from tomatoes. The other option is to keep the fillings and bread separate and let your child create their own sandwich at lunchtime. Think about smelly lunch food like boiled eggs and tuna. Although they are fabulously healthy and convenient – they have the potential to taint all the food in the lunch box and understandably may deter your child from eating their lunch.
Lunchboxes and Lunch Bags
Make sure that your child has a container that seals well to prevent any leaking but is easy to open for your child. Using a Keep Leaf reusable sandwich & snack bag will not only save you money on gladwrap but you are also helping the environment.
|Look for a high quality drink bottle that will last and will not leak. Also to keep your child safe - look for BPA Free alternatives. Click here for some options.||
The common white-bread sandwich is fine occasionally as part of a varied diet but it isn't the only lunch-box option. The key is variety and talking with your child about what they actually will eat – if the lunch is consistently coming home….you need to make some changes!
Here are some Yum Yum ideas to add fun and variation to the lunchbox:
Mix it up by using a range of breads (white high fibre, wholemeal, multigrain, rye); pita bread; kebab bread; Turkish bread and bread rolls. Get creative with fillings too - try cold meat, tinned fish, hummus, falafel, avocado/guacamole, and yummy cheeses. Don’t forget traditional fillings such as Vegemite, lettuce, tomato, grated carrot and honey (over 12 months).
Fresh fruit – any fresh seasonal fruit that is available is great like apples, grapes, kiwifruit, bananas, summer fruits, strawberries, mandarins, blueberries or fejoias – they are easy to eat and kids generally love them. Put softer fruits in their own little pots to avoid them making a mess. Stewed fruit in natural juice is also an option but whole fruit is healthier as it has more fibre and is generally more filling.
Dried fruit is handy for lunchboxes and deliciously sweet. Apricots, raisins, sultanas, figs, currents, mangoes, dates, apple rings, peaches and fruit leathers are all great. Be adventurous – let you child choose dried fruit from the supermarket. Just be aware that some dried fruit has added sugar – try to avoid these as dried fruit doesn’t need any additives.
Vegetables are great as finger food or added with other foods. Raw vegetables are so healthy - try red pepper, mushroom, sugar snap peas; cherry tomatoes, green beans, carrot sticks, cucumber, celery (great with cottage cheese) – the possibilities are endless.
Some ideas - rice, pasta, noodle, potato, chickpea, bean or tabbouleh are all delicious and full of goodness. Baked tofu (available ready-made) is another good healthy option which is often a big hit with kids and a tasty alternative to meat.
Yoghurt and cheese are great options for the lunch box. Remember always keep them cool.
This can be used as a treat and the great thing is you have control over the ingredients so you can make it as healthy and nutritious as you like. Healthy homemade muffins (bran/fruit), scones or homemade muesli slice is a great way to ensure your kids are getting good complex carbohydrates and fruit. To make it easier, make a large quantity of home baking and freeze it – it will defrost through the day and has the added benefit of keeping the lunchbox cool! Be aware that many commercially made muesli bars or convenience lunch foods are refined, high in additives (salt, sugar or fat) and low in nutrition – so always read the label.
Although nuts are very nutritious they do pose safety risks. Some children have serious allergies to nuts so ALWAYS consult with your school regarding anaphylactic or nut allergy policies prior to including nuts or products containing nuts in your childs lunchbox. To avoid choking, whole nuts are not recommended for children under 5 years.
Left-overs - Homemade quiche, samosas, or slices of pizza. Left-overs are great and can be a nice change from sandwiches.
Soup in a flask, breadsticks, crackers, healthy dips for dunking (hummus, baba ghanoush, tzatziki), tuna, cold meat, deli meats, tofu, fruit breads, hard boiled eggs (if your kid doesn't mind the smell) or wraps. Don’t leave out sugary foods altogether – home baking, yogurt and fruit are great healthy alternatives and your child won’t feel as if they’re missing out. Remember the occasional treat is fine – so ‘buying lunch’ or a packet of chips is fine as a treat!
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