Now that Pepijn is 4 and goes to school, we prepare a fruit bowl, a lunch box and 2 cups of something to drink every morning. Pepijn’s school is consciously working on exercise and nutrition and is certified as a ‘Healthy School’. This also means we consciously prepare the lunch box with healthy snacks and toppings. This blog contains some tips for a healthy lunch box for your child.
Frugies… have you heard of this? I haven’t, but it is an amalgamation of Fruit and Veggies. This forms the basis for the nutrition of children at our primary school. So lots of vegetables, fruit and bread, but no sweets or biscuits. After 3 months, we are on a roll, and we can honestly say that we fill the lunch box with healthy and varied food!
How much food do you put in?
When Pepijn comes home, he has a fixed ritual of unpacking his rucksack and always proudly shows us that he has eaten everything. The first few weeks, I was worried about whether we were giving him enough; after all, you don’t want your child to go hungry. Nor do you want to give too much and not all be eaten; this is at the expense of that proud feeling that your lunch box is empty. Fortunately, a four-year-old can tell when it’s too much, so it will be OK.
My tips for giving your child a healthy lunch box to take to school:
1. Two kinds of fruit
Around 10 am, the children eat their fruit together and drink water. We put the fruit in a separate container and combine at least two kinds for variation. Here are some of the variations we make for inspiration;
- Apple & Banana
- Kiwi & Pear
- Apple & Mango
- Pineapple & Strawberry
- Melon & Cucumber
- Grapes & Blueberries
- Raspberry & Banana
We sometimes use frozen fruit as well; like pineapple. But be sure to drain it well. And who says you can’t mix fruit with vegetables? Just be creative. He might not always want apple, but combining it with something else makes it interesting to discover what’s in the bowl every day.
2. Healthy sandwiches
Pepijn takes 2 wholemeal sandwiches to school. We almost always put peanut butter on one sandwich; on the other, we vary with chicken breast, cheese spread, hummus, and veggie sausage. I think variety is important here, too, and it makes sure every last crumb is eaten. Now and then, we use organic apple & date syrup instead of peanut butter. Usually, his mouth is covered in peanut butter at home; I hope he eats less messy at school.
3. An extra healthy snack
In addition to the 2 sandwiches, Pepijn’s lunch box also contains snack vegetables. I often put bell pepper and cucumber slices in it. Sometimes I add an extra snack. A little healthy snack. Here are a few options:
- A small handful of sultanas or mixed dried fruit
- A breadstick broken into 3 pieces
- A corn cracker
- A wedge of soft cheese
- Half a slice of home-made banana bread
- A small banana & egg pancake
- A boiled egg
To be fair, Pepijn was also given a mini raisin bun once. I don’t put a healthy snack in the lunch box every day, so it’s not a standard expectation, but when it’s in there, it’s extra nice!
“I think that all in all, with us, variety is the key to success and an empty lunch box. This way, your child keeps discovering and there’s always something to choose from.”
4. Healthy drinks
A healthy lunch box also includes healthy drink options. Here, too, the school encourages drinking water. So, as a rule, we give water for the 10 o’clock break and milk for the lunch break.
Remember that your child goes to school for 5 days, and giving them healthy drinks on these days provides a very good basis for the week. Does your child not like water, or would rather not drink water? Then try to make it more interesting or tasty by adding a slice of cucumber or some strawberries to the water. Or give them cooled tea and keep mixing it with more water. I believe that if your child gets used to the taste of water from an early age, this will give them a head start in life!
5. Dinner leftovers
I can’t see myself making Pokemons from balls of rice (google Bento bread boxes) because it’s such a hassle in the morning. Plus, I’m not doing Pepijn any favours with rice in his lunchbox. What I can do as a variation is put some leftovers from our dinner in the lunch box occasionally. Instead of sandwiches. For example, a piece of cold quiche, a small wrap with vegetables and hummus or whole-wheat pita bread with falafel balls. By doing so, you also add variety and ensure that your child continues to discover.
I think that all in all, variety is the key to success and an empty lunch box. This helps your child to keep discovering and there’s always something to choose from.