Viewers of Jamie Oliver's revolution of the school dinner may well be asking where he goes from here. Well one area he could look at are the unhealthy choices many parents make when it comes to giving their children packed lunches. According to the British Health Foundation, only around 1% of primary school kids packed lunches meet government nutritional standards. It can be tedious trying to plan a week's packed lunches, especially if you have more than one child and it's oh so tempting to fill up their lunchboxes with crisps, sweets and sausage rolls. However if you add up the money you spend on pre-prepared kids lunches and snacks you'd be shocked at how much these unhealthy kids lunches are costing, not to mention the cost to children's health.
Making Healthy Packed Lunches For Kids
There are a few simple solutions to the problem of what to put in their lunches every day that take just minutes to prepare but will make all the difference not only to their health, but their energy levels, concentration and even moods. Below I've set out a weeks' menu planner that should help inspire a few home-made packed lunches, but there are other simple changes you could make that would help:
- Swap pre-bought bottles of juice for a plastic drinks bottle that you can fill with diluted pure fruit juice which will have less sweeteners, sugar, flavors and colorings.
- Instead of chocolate bars get the kids to make Rice Crispie cakes by simply melting some chocolate over a pan of boiling water, mixing in the Rice Crispies and putting them in the fridge to set.
- Swap white bread for wholemeal. There are now a few well-known brands that offer wholemeal bread as white bread so that kids will not know the difference !;
- Instead of crisps try giving them rice crackers with cream cheese – delicious!
Making Your Own Snacks and Treats For Kids Forget the days of careful measuring out, mess and burnt cakes; there are plenty of simple recipes out there for a host of delicious treasures that contain half the sugar, salt and none of the preservatives of shop bought trees. This is a simple yet delicious recipe that even the kids can manage! Mini Fruit Tarts
- Buy some shortcrust pastry and roll it out.
- Using a pastry cutter, cut out small circles and press them into a well oiled bun tin.
- Prick the bases with a fork and cook them in the oven on a medium heat for 15mins
- Once cooked leave them to cool.
- Melt some smooth apricot jam (or marmalade) in a saucepan on a low heat.
- Brush the pastry cases with your glaze and fill with soft fruit such as blackcurrants, raspberries, pineapple or grapes (tinned fruit is fine).
- Brush with the glaze once more and put them into the fridge to set.
Packed Lunches that Kids Can Make
Get the children involved in their own packed lunches! You might think that they'd just opt for jam sandwiches but kids can be surprising. There are some really inexpensive kids cooking books on Amazon that are full of little recipes that they can try for their lunches. Sandwiches are not hard to make and if they are feeling adventurous they might even want to try their hand at making a pasta salad! Do not be afraid to let kids into the kitchen to find out for themselves how food is put together and to experiment with different flavors and textures.
Kids Lunchbox Planner For The Week
Try out this lunchbox planner for one week and see what a difference it makes not only to your purse but to your child's health too!
Ham and cream cheese sandwich; apple; Rice Crispie cake
Homemade mini sausage rolls – roll some cooked mini sausages in puff pastry and bake for 10mins; mini fruit salad in a sealed container topped with yoghurt; homemade cheese twists – puff pastry cut into strips, sprinkled with grated cheese, twisted and baked for 10mins.
Chicken and mango wrap filled with sweet peppers and baby tomatoes; mini Fruit Tart; rice crackers filled with cream cheese
Simple Pasta Salad – cooked pasta with cucumber, pepper, sweetcorn and mayonnaise; tub full of juicy sultanas and other dried fruit; Malt loaf slices spread with jam
Tuna Pittas – fill a pitta bread with tuna, mayonnaise and lettuce; banana; fruit flapjack
Source by Lisa Valentine