Whether you're all too familiar with packing snacks into your child's lunchbox for school, holidays or daycare, or you're a new parent navigating the routine chore, the start of another school year means the beginning of food preparation on a daily organised scale.
As the NSW school year soon begins shortly, there waiting in the wings are either new or reused lunchboxes, ready for service.
The options are endless and it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Lunch box type - separate compartments, click or zip, fold, wrap or cool, and then there's the contents - it's a minefield of choices.
The basic rule is to avoid allergy prone food including nuts and limit 'hidden' sugar items including muesli bars, dried fruit and flavoured yoghurt. That being said, a little occasional nut-free treat will make for a nice surprise.
Try to include something from each of the five food groups including fruit/vegetables/legumes/beans, dairy, grain (cereal) foods and lean meats poultry/fish/eggs. Fresh fruit and vegetables that are easy to grab and go including celery, carrot sticks and cucumbers, are healthy choices.
Pack water rather than sports drinks, juice, soft drinks, cordials, or flavoured milk that are high in sugar. If your tap water is fluoridated, even better. Look for grain-based snacks with whole grains and high fibre, including wholegrain bread and crackers.
Processed snack products including chips and cookies should be limited to one item and ideally a low-sugar choice, including rice crackers, popcorn and cheese.
Name labelling is a must, as is having a spare lunchbox as a back-up. Becoming familiar with canteen ordering is also a nice option, and it boosts excitement about going to school, knowing they have one to look forward to. Also encourage your child to be involved in lunchbox packing.
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