Donegal Nutritionist Sorcha McElchar from Sorchas Healthy Living shares her tips to creating lunches your children will actually eat!
School is back in session, and school lunches are back on the menu. Many schools have healthy eating policies that encourage more things like fruit and vegetables, while limiting foods higher is sugar and saturated fats, but are they working?
Let’s be honest. We do have a problem when it comes to childhood obesity, and diet does play a massive role in it, but we also have a cost-of-living crisis. Many people are struggling to simple feed their kids. However, there are always ways to make more nutritious choices even on a tight budget.
Another thing is…I kind of disagree about having a healthy eating policy in schools, unless the kids are educated on why eating certain foods are more beneficial than others when it comes to health. It needs to be done at their level (telling 5-year-old carrots are a great source of vitamin A which helps promote healthy eyesight means nothing but telling them it gives them superhero eyesight might work!)
Also labelling foods as good and bad at such a young, in my opinion isn’t great either. All food is food.
Now for a few tips to make nutritious lunches that your kids will enjoy,
- When making the lunch think of ways to include fibre. This can be in the form of fruit, raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrain crackers, wholegrain bread even breakfast cereals like shredded wheat, cereal bars like (Naked bars, Alpen bars, fibre one etc). You can also make your own cereal bars.
- Protein doesn’t mean you need to include meat. Eggs are less expensive sources of protein, and they’re also packed full of other vitamins and minerals too. Don’t forget things like canned tuna and chickpeas can be turned into humous for a yummy dip. Dairy is good too, but if you are opting for yoghurt try to avoid the ones packed full of sugar. You can get natural yoghurts that contain probiotics.
- If you have a few extra minutes, try to be inventive by cutting the sandwiches into shapes. If not invest in a cutter.
- Another tip is to get your kids involved in making their own lunches! Eventually as they get older give them more and more responsibility. By 3rd or 4th class there is no reason why they shouldn’t be making their own lunches (maybe give it a wee check to make sure there’s enough in it, and it doesn’t consist of all the one type of food).
- In terms of ‘budgeting’ don’t be afraid to use leftovers. Leftover roast chicken can make a sandwich, or a salad, or just on its own with a bit of seasoning. Leftover pasta. In the colder weather making a big pot of vegetable soup from vegetables that have seen better days can be sent in a thermal flask when they are older. A lunch doesn’t have to consist of a sandwich/wrap, nor does t have to come in a lunch box!