When it comes to packing snacks or lunch for an outing, many mums reach for processed foods. With a little pre-planning, it's just as easy and so much healthier for children’s growing bodies and brains to pack whole, unprocessed foods.
Packing an unprocessed lunch box really does set a benchmark for the future when they are eating away from home. Toddlers who are only offered processed food when out and about often reach school age and expect only processed foods in their lunch box (because that’s what they’re used to).
Once they’re at school, a third of a child’s daily nutrition comes from their lunch box, so the food that’s packed needs to be nourishing. Here are 5 simple tips for packing a healthy lunchbox and preparing your toddler to enjoy a whole foods lunchbox throughout their school life.
1. Make your own snacks and treats.
This way you have complete control over the ingredients ensuring only the best for your toddler. Make sure your baking is refined sugar-free and try to substitute wheat based flours for more nutrient-dense gluten-free alternatives (like quinoa, buckwheat, coconut and millet). You can also substitute cow's milk with goat or coconut milk in most recipes.
2. Always include vegetables, preferably locally sourced, in season and organic.
They can be raw, steamed or baked. Don't be afraid to serve cooked vegetables cold, in fact, it's a good idea to get toddlers used to eating unheated foods in preparation for the time when they go to kindy or school. Make vegetables more interesting by packing a dip they like or toss them in a delicious homemade salad dressing. Plain yoghurt with a little cinnamon makes a delicious, quick dip.
3. Include organic protein and good fats.
This is essential to sustain your toddler's appetite and support healthy growth and development. Boiled eggs, leftover meats, quinoa and organic yoghurt are wonderful sources of protein to pack.
4. Be prepared for throwing a healthy lunchbox together quickly.
Baking in batches and freezing snacks and treats so they are always on hand to pack a healthy lunchbox is a great timesaving tip. Dinner leftovers are also great for packing into the lunchbox so when you cook dinner, portion the meal to ensure leftovers (for you and your toddler).
5. Get them involved in packing their lunchbox.
Toddlers just love to be autonomous and by simply involving them in placing the food into their own lunchbox, will not only ensure they will eat what is packed but also paves the way for a lifelong enjoyment of eating whole foods.
About the author - Georgia Harding
Georgia Harding is the heart, soul and mind behind Well Nourished, a blog which has evolved from a lifelong love of creating meals from delicious, whole foods, along with many years in clinical practice and lecturing. Georgia is a Naturopath, freestyle cook, mother of two divine children and wife to a fine food loving husband.
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