It is best if we don’t eat the same thing every day, otherwise we only get the same nutrients. By varying our diet and our kid’s lunch boxes we get a better mix of nutrients, a more balanced diet and less boredom.
Get started with some basics…
• Purchase little containers for pesto, hummus, chopped veggies etc.
• Get a Soup Flask for soups, spaghetti bolognaise
• Prepare some stuff on Sundays for the week ahead – baked ham, Turkey breast, hummus,
• Do your shopping at weekend for the week ahead
• Let kids get involved in shopping – let them decide what’s healthy and not healthy in the shop
• Be careful of false advertisements for kids ‘healthy options’ that are actually full of sugar e.g: supermarket probiotic drinks, low fat yogurts, museli bars. Also beware of processed cheese products which can be very high in salt.
• No drinks other than water – get your kids used to drinking water for lunch
• Breads. Avoid white loaf and white rolls and check labels on Brown Bread – this can be white bread dyed brown. Try minimal ingredients, sourdough, rye bread, wholemeal instead.
• If you have picky eater at home, offering a selection of tempting finger food to nibble at, instead of one main item tends to work well, ideally put in separate containers.
A balanced lunch includes one item from each category
Main Lunch item
• Sandwich: Wholemeal bread / wrap with sliced turkey, sliced baked ham or cheese and salad fillings
• Soup: celery and potato, sweet potato, carrot, butternut squash.
• Super mince Spaghetti Bolognaise with spelt spaghetti (see recipe below)
• Nut free pesto (see recipe below) with spelt pasta
• Quesadillas: Wholewheat wrap filled and grilled with any fillings; pesto, grated cheese, homemade tomato sauce (see recipe below), chicken, ham, turkey, tinned tuna, sweet corn.
• Boiled egg
• Oat cakes with cheese, tomato or plain
• Hummus (see recipe below) with chopped carrots, cucumber, cherry tomato
• Chicken strips sprinkled with mild spices
• Corn on the cob
A piece of chopped fruit or chopped raw vegetables
Cans of Chickpeas
Tahini (gound sesame seeds)
Bread – wholemeal, rye, sourdough
Whole wheat wraps
Fresh Turkey Breast
Fillet of ham from Butchers counter
Selection of Fruit
Vegetables for soup – onions, potato, celery etc.
Chopped veggies – carrots , cucumber, celery
Bag of spinach
Spelt or wholewheat pasta
Organic or Free Range eggs
Extra virgin olive oil
Lean mince meat
Canned plum tomatoes
Marigold vegetable bouillon – low salt stock
Put 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or butter in a pot. Add garlic and onion and sweat on a low heat. Add diced vegetables. Options can include mixed vegetables, leek and potato or celery and potato. Add Marigold Swiss Bouillon (available from any health shop) and enough hot water to cover the veg. Simmer for 20 minutes and blend with a hand blender. Season with ground black pepper.
Recipe 2: Nut-free Pesto
3 handful baby spinach/basil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Parmesan (optional and makes it less healthy)
½ cup sunflower seeds if your’s is a nut-free school (otherwise pine or walnuts)
Dash of water
Pinch of rock Salt
I put the seeds in last as we like them crunchy and not completely blended.
Blend the whole lot in blender and store in an air-tight jar in the fridge.
Pan Fry garlic and onion in coconut oil. Add any chopped vegetables such as carrots, peppers , celery. Add a little Bouillon along with any fresh or dried herbs. Blend if yours are fussy eaters.
If you want to make bolognaise, pan-fry mince and add this hidden veggie tomato sauce.
Recipe 4: Hummus
Drain and rinse 1 can of chickpeas. Put in your Nutri Bullet or blender with 1 teaspoon tahini paste, a squeeze of lemon juice, 1 small clove of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon cumin spice (Optional), couple of teaspoons water and blend till smooth.
Deirdre Cunningham runs Smart Nutrition and Lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook @TheSmartNutritionClinic