One of the regular problems parents face with a new term is what to put in the kids lunch box!

LunchboxThere are a few key principles to getting the lunch right;

• Firstly, variety is the spice of life. If the child finds it boring they will not eat it and you will be throwing a half-eaten lunch in the bin most evenings.

• Include whatever fruit and vegetables your child will eat – the more the better!

• The energy roller-coaster – our energy comes from glucose which is the end product of carbohydrate consumption. To ensure your little one has the energy and concentration to get through the afternoon it is important for them to get the correct complex carbohydrates. Typical complex carbs are wholemeal bread, rolls, pittas, wholegrain cereals, porridge oats, wholemeal pasta or oat, rye and wholegrain crackers. These are better options for lunches than white product options.

• Ensure there is some protein in the lunch, this provides us with the basic building blocks our cells need. Some example of protein rich foods are meat, milk, cheese, eggs, beans and grains.

• Finally, don’t forget fats! We all need fats in our diet especially children, but they must be the good polyunsaturated fats, these come from foods such as, seeds, vegetables and oily fish.

• Aim for one portion of complex carbs and protein with each lunch.

Some quick, nutritious ideas that you can prepare quickly are:

Lunchbox2Crudities: carrot, cucumber, red pepper sticks with hummus.

Wholemeal sandwiches or wraps, including some protein. Canned fish (well drained) mixed with mayo, cheese, hard-boiled egg with tomato or mayo, or chicken are good options.

Omelettes, made the evening before and served cold cut into chunks, with any filling your child likes such as tomato, mushrooms.

Salads – these are great to make the night before and kept in the fridge, include anything you have such as lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber or red pepper, include a good source of protein such as a hard-boiled egg or cooked chicken breast.

Cold left over pasta – tomato and pesto pasta work well for lunches.

Some fruit and a healthy pudding are always welcomed in a lunch box. Firm favourites with my kids are flapjacks (oats are a great complex carb and a good source of fibre), natural yogurt (full fat) is the best with added fruit or a little honey to sweeten, popcorn, raisins or apple and blueberry muffins.

Hayley Sanders is a local fully qualified, state registered Nutritional Therapist. For more information on nutrition visit www.nutritionalhealthmatters.co.uk.