Healthy eating does have a tendency to slip a bit over the summer holidays. Even with the best of intentions parents get tired towards the end of the school holidays and rely a bit more on convenience foods than they would normally, that along with the temptations on days out, holidays abroad (especially all-inclusives) and on the beach, the treats we normally indulge our kids in on the odd occasion become more frequent.
The arrival of Autumn and the routine of being back at school is a really good time to encourage back to healthy eating. It’s all about being prepared and planning ahead. If like me you send your kids in with a packed lunch, then it is hugely helpful to make a school meal lunch and snack plan. For many parents this is the most challenging part of the return to school, the dreaded packed lunch! Whether, like me, you have a coeliac in the family or a picky eater, or have a ‘no nuts’ policy in school and you’re just plain old tired of coming up with school lunch ideas then the key to success is forward planning.
I try to have a ‘meeting’ with my kids around food about once a month. This is their chance to tell me what they currently do and don’t like (for parents out there you will know this is constantly changing). It is important not to pass comment and say things like ‘Oh but you’ve always liked that.' or ‘I thought you didn’t like that?' It is normal for all children to fall in and out of favour with all sorts of tastes, textures and foods. Have your first ‘meeting’ before they go back to school and get them excited thinking about what they might like to eat for lunch. If you are all stuck for inspiration then sit with some cookbooks to get some new ideas. I know my kids love going through my cookbooks and picking out recipes. Of course not all recipes are perfect for lunch boxes, but it creates a discussion and starting point as to what foods they are attracted to.
Empowering your child to make decisions around food is a great practice to start. After all we are here as parents to help them make sensible decisions around food when they are older and so now is a good time to start. You will be amazed at what they come up with and it takes away some of the pressure of feeling you have to come up with ideas. It also means they don’t moan about what they are given and feel that they have been consulted and are empowered in the process.
Food Storage Containers & Drink Bottles
I have made 2 great investments since my kids started having school packed lunches, the first being an insulated Thermos flask for hot or cold food and the second a set of tiffin boxes. The layered tiffin boxes enables you to provide a 2 or 3 course lunch, which is an exciting prospect for your child when they open it everyday to see what they have. I am not a fan of plastic in any form for food storage due to the toxic effects of BPA, PVC and other plastic contaminants. Manufacturers have cottoned on to the ‘BPA free’ marketing and though there are many products labelled BPA free they can still have other nasty chemicals that leach into the food.
For the same reason, I do not use plastic water bottles. If you want to keep your child's drinking water as just water without any chemical transfer from its container then look for stainless steel and be sure to check there is no inner plastic lining.
The plus side of healthy lunches is also the cut down on unrecyclable waste production. Healthy for your child and healthy for the environment!
There is a huge choice of lunch bags. Choosing an insulated one that you can further cool in the warm autumn weeks with ice packs is a great option. Conversely, along with a hot lunch in a Thermos flask an insulated bag will also insulate your child’s food and keep it warmer longer in the colder winter months, a welcome proposition to your child on those snowy, icy days.
How to work with me:
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Stainless steel tiered tiffin lunch boxes:
There is a huge selection of insulated food jars available from Thermos: