Planning and thinking of lunch and snack ideas for your kid who goes to school is a challenge every parent goes through. From planning a weekly menu, to shopping ingredients is a challenging everyday task. And this task is something we as parents cant ignore, as kids need the right nutrition and food to keep them energized through the day.
If you are a seasoned parent, then you would by now have a seasoned process flow for packing lunch boxes through trial and errors. And if you are a parent whose child is going to school for the first time, then we are over excited and crowded with thoughts on the ways we can excite the children with their lunch boxes. Nevertheless, it always helps when you get externals from parents who have done it. In this article, I have strived to share information on how planning, variety and understanding your childs likes and dislikes can help you in packing a good wholesome lunch box.
1 - Understanding Your Child's Diet
When the child is ready to go to school, you would have a fair idea what food your child likes and what food he does not. And do remember as they grow and eat with peers, their tastes will change and evolve.
Pack foods that the child eats regularly at home and in addition add a small variety of new food item a week that he/she has not tried before. Lunch boxes are a great way to sneak in new foods.
2 - Pack A Variety Small Portions
Knowing how much to pack into a lunch box is something none of us learn over night. We all stumble, over pack and when we see leftovers come back from school, is when we realise how much you pack is crucial.
Remember the kids when in school and eating along with peers are in a hurry to finish their food and run out to get some free time to play. As much as we worry they need to eat the same portions they eat at home, this most often does not apply.
Children prefer foods in small portions and variety. This is where planning a menu for the week comes in.
Having the right set of lunch boxes with partitions is crucial, which will enable you to pack variety in a single box - like a bento box. You can also use a silicone cups to separate the food portions.
3 - Plan A Menu For The Week
Planning for the next weeks lunch box, usually happens on a friday, when I order my groceries via big basket.
Write down your menu for the week, for both the snack box and lunch box, shop the ingredients and you will realise how easy your life would become with this menu planed. We have Kids Lunch Box Ideas and Menu Plans that you can use in your lunchbox planning.
4 - Plan a Template Of What Needs To Go Into A Lunchbox
Whole Grains & Carbs For Energy:
Carbohydrates are so important for children to give them the energy that is required to put the mind and body to good use in school. It could be in the form sandwiches, wraps, rotis, parathas, rice and millets. Make sure the grains used are whole grains like wheat, rice, oat and millets that give the right nutrition and energy.
Fruit For Fiber & Nutrition:
Adding a few pieces of fresh fruit or dried into your childs lunch box helps them get that instant dose of energy and at the same time the nutrition for the brain cells to get connected and work well. Energy and nutrients from fruits are extremely important for growing children and they also help them to perform and think better in their class.
Proteins are extremely important, and they dont have to just go in the form of dals. The proteins are important for building the brain and muscle for a growing child. All you need to pack is small portions, cheese cubes, peanut butter sandwiches, egg wraps, rajma chawal or a dal pulao or dal paratha. The proteins not only provide nutrition, but also keeps them full and helps them to concentrate in better in classes.
Vegetables need not be boring for kids. Once again think small portions. Pack a stir fry, steam them and toss in butter or simple, add them to the rice, parathas, wraps & sandwiches. The addition of small portions in various foods, not only makes it fun but also develops a good eating habit in children.
Water & Yogurt:
Lastly don't forget the water. Water is very crucial for the children to be hydrated. Avoid packing in juices that are processed and packed with sugars. These simply give them an overdose of energy and not not healthy. Instead, encourage children to drink more water and finish it by the time they come back home.
When you are packing for the summers, freeze the water and yogurt cups the previous night, so they stay at good temperatures by the time they reach school. When packing yogurt, use homemade or plain yogurt. You can whip them up with fresh fruits, but avoid the packaged versions which are packed with sugars and preservatives.
5- Plan & Prepare The Previous Night
Planning and prepping your ingredients and partially or fully cooking foods the previous night will save you a lot of stress on the day of school. Preparations like have some cooked rice ready, rajma that is cooked, roti dough made and refrigerated, vegetables and fruits cut. Dry fruits and water bottled packed, yogurt in the freezer, pre-bake cupcakes and treats for the week and napkins and spoons into the lunch box.
A small amount of routine planning and checklist will help save you a lot of time.