We only have a couple of weeks left before all the kiddies head back to school. Social media has been inundated with questions from Mums asking for recommendations for:
– lunch boxes
– cooler bags
– drink bottles
So much time and energy is spent on what the lunchbox looks like. What about what goes INTO the lunchbox?
There is a HUGE range of lunch boxes available on the supermarket shelves. It has become big business. The marketing machines have jumped into action. Walk around a big supermarket and you will see all the lunch box specials and in store displays. We are bombarded with marketing promoting unhealthy lunch box fillers.
These convenient lunchbox snacks are often some of the most highly processed and sugar laden products available.. You will hear claims from manufacturers stating that these products are:
– “easy lunch ideas”
– “great for snacking”
– “healthier lunch box snacks that your kids will love”
– “a lunchbox hit”
Of course it would be a lunch box hit! What child would not love a party in their lunchbox everyday?
Having reviewed thousands of products on supermarket shelves, something become very clear to me. Many of the quick lunch box options you find on the shelves would fall into the category of party food in my opinion.
It is tough for parents knowing what to buy!! Food manufacturers use front of pack wording that makes their product sound nutritious.
I recommend that you ALWAYS flip the packet. Ignore any claims on the front of the packet and dive into the ingredient list.
You will see that ingredients are listed in descending order. The first ingredient represents the largest in the product, and the last ingredient the smallest. It is our responsibility as parents to educate ourselves and provide the best that we can for our kids. It is unlikely we are going to have restrictions on what types of foods can be marketed to kids any time soon. Or to see regulation around the claims ‘healthy’ and ‘all natural”.
We need to to be the detectives for our kids. When opting for convenience, turn the pack over. Check the ingredients. Does the product contain a lot of sugar? Does it contain a lot of additives such as:
– antioxidants or
other ingredients that you don’t know what they are? If it does, this is party food and it doesn’t have a place in the school lunch box.
We are sending our children to school expecting them to learn and concentrate for the day. How can that be possible when we have fed them party food?
These lunchbox snacks will not do your child any favours at school. Consider packing nude food – food without any packaging. It’s much cheaper too!
The key to lunch boxes is to listen to your kids. Ask them what type of lunch works for them and what doesn’t. Each kid is different. Do they want a bento style box? Do they sit down for a long time chatting with their friends? Or do they want to eat as quickly as possible and get out and play?
I have found with my kids (and perhaps it’s because they are boys), they do not want to spend a long time eating lunch. They want to spend as little time as possible at school eating. My boys are more than happy to graze for hours at a time in front of food at home, but not at school. My kids prefer options that they can eat fast and get straight into the playground.
I know parents are worried about their kids getting enough food at school. I would be too if my child was eating cereals from cardboard boxes. These cereals will NOT keep your kids full. They will be starving!
If kids have a big wholefood breakfast, you will feel less pressure in what to put in your kids lunchboxes.
You will be able to ditch a lot of the packaged options. Wholefood options will keep them satiated, able to concentrate and cheaper for you. A win win for everybody involved. The teachers will be thanking you too!
If you wanted to give your kids a convenient lunchbox snack, I would suggest AFTER school would be a better time (and after homework). The kids aren’t required to sit down and concentrate and learn for the next few hours and they can run around.
We have a responsibility to help our kids learn when they are at school. We have a responsibility to help the teachers in the classroom focus on teaching rather than behaviour management.
I can’t thank our teachers enough – I do not know how they handle a whole classroom full of kids that have just dosed up on sugar and additives at lunch time!
Let’s have a new start to the year… lets be the change we want to see. We know that what our kids’ friends have in their lunchbox has a big impact on our own children. Let’s make real food the norm, not the exception. Let’s give our kids the best possible chance of thriving at school this year.
So my top tips for setting your child up for a great year:
1) Give your kids a wholefood breakfast, for example – eggs (there are so many ways you can make eggs!), granola, muesli, porridge, yoghurt…the list goes on.
2) Pack your kids whole food lunch options, nude food, no packets – there is no shortage of lunch box inspiration online. Here are some of my favourite go to resources:
3) If you are going to buy convenient lunch box options – look for ingredient lists that are very short and you recognise every ingredient. There are some great options available. Check out 123 Nourish Me’s lunchbox bites for some amazing lunchbox snacks.
4) Leave the fruit juices and flavoured milks for a party, they have no place in a school lunchbox, all kids need at school is water.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you think it is time that our lunchboxes change? If we stop buying all these convenient party food lunchbox snacks, the companies will stop making them and realise that we want wholefood options. It is up to us to make the change. We have the power. I know it can seem overwhelming and I know that us Mums are so stretched for time and pulled in so many directions. Just take one step at a time…. Slowly reduce the packets appearing in the lunchboxes. Our kids and teachers deserve better! Lets give them a chance to thrive this year.
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