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Lunchbox – School Dinners

30/07/2013 | Child Health, Nutrition, Parent Health, Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

We all know nowadays how important it is that kids eat healthy food – we’re bombarded with information in the media on a daily basis about how important it is to develop good eating habits.  However, kids can be faddy and sometimes making sure that they get all the right stuff they need can be a difficult job for parents.  This is to say nothing of the worry and angst thinking your little one is not eating properly. 

School meals are much better nowadays than they used to be when we were kids.  Jamie Oliver has made sure of that – bringing the nation’s attention to the fact that our kids should be eating fresh, healthy foods that taste great.  School dinners nowadays are usually fit for the 21st Century, offering the kids a wide variety of tasty recipes that make them come home raving about ‘cheese wheels’ and ‘smiley faces’.

However, not all schools live up to the Jamie challenge and not every kid is satisfied with school dinners.  Sometimes, the only way to make sure that your child is eating properly is to give them a packed lunch.  Okay, it’s extra work for Mum on a daily basis, but it’s work that’s well worth doing if it helps to set your mind at rest about what your little darling on is munching on during the dinner break.  When they come home, you can look at what’s left in the lunchbox and you’ll have a really good idea of what they’ve eaten during the day.  Of course, this can backfire on you – my daughter always had the most interesting lunchbox in the dinner hall at school, healthy fruit, lovingly prepared carrot sticks with humus, delightful little healthy treats that any kid should love.  Trouble was, all the kids loved these healthy little treats and she’d swap them for sweets and cake sometimes (she confessed this years later!).

If your child asks to start taking a packed lunch don’t say no automatically – have a think about it.  A packed lunch can be a great way of getting them to eat healthy food – celery sticks, fruit, cheese.  A packed lunch doesn’t have to be peanut butter sandwiches – you don’t need to include sandwiches at all if you substitute some bread sticks or crackers.  Why not let your child have a packed lunch in summer terms only, when a hot meal isn’t so important?  Although school meals are a really healthy option for kids nowadays – don’t dismiss the packed lunch out of hand.  You might just be surprised at how it could transform a faddy eater into a gourmet.

I’ll be writing a regular Lunchbox section for this blog with meal ideas for packed lunches.  If you have any meal ideas, or if you have anything to say about school dinners or packed lunches, please join in with the comments section below.  I’d love to hear from you.

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