Forget the hassle of raising your kids from their slumber, ignore the trauma of shopping for new schools and disregard the agony of purchasing new stationery.
Most parents who have been through the process at least once before will concede the most painful part of sending your children back to school is figuring out how to keep their little tummies happy and healthy.
There are few things more frustrating than sending your children off in the morning with a full lunchbox, only for it to return the same way at the end of the school day.
With this in mind, influencer and author of The Organised Housewife, Katrina Springer, has shared a set of guidelines for parents to follow in their attempts to create healthy school lunches.
Springer, who has made a career out of offering inspiration and motivation to help keep households clean and organised, says one of the first things you should do is to ensure you purchase an age-appropriate lunchbox.
While grown-ups are unlikely to face any issues dislodging the lid on an airtight leak-proof sealed container, it is much more difficult for little fingers that may struggle to grasp the side grips properly or unlock clipped fasteners.
If possible, it is also best to purchase a product that is zipper-free and dishwasher safe to ensure any spillages or leaks can easily and efficiently be cleaned up.
Next, you may like to pack some ice bricks with your child’s lunchbox to help keep food fresh.
Springer says, as the current summer is proving, living in Australia means we always have to consider the impact heat will have on the food we transport to ensure it doesn’t spoil.
“There is nothing worse than a sick little Vegemite who’s eaten something that wasn’t quite right. I pack the kids’ lunchboxes in insulated lunch bags which also have enough room for an ice brick,” she says.
While it may not sound like much fun, taking the time to create a weekly lunchbox meal plan can also prove beneficial in encouraging your children to eat their school lunches.
Springer says planning ahead is a sure fire way to ensure you have the time to make healthy school snacks for your children and limit the junk food and processed food that we tend to reach for when rushed.
Once your weekly meal plan is in place, you may like to considering involving your children in packing their own lunches.
Springer says encouraging your children to be part of the lunchbox process will allow them to learn good habits from the start. Allowing them to pack the food with you lets them to play with the different textures as well as taking ownership of their own choices, Springer says.
Once you know the type of healthy food your children enjoy, consider making extra food at dinner times to use in lunchboxes the next day.
Springer suggests if you’re making food for dinners like quiche, zucchini slice or other food that could work in your children’s lunchboxes, make a little extra and save yourself the hassle of making morning sandwiches by packing some leftovers instead.
“It’s also good to meal plan for dinner and lunch together, so you can cross over and see where you can save yourself more time,” she says.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines suggest children should enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the following five food groups every day:
- Plenty of vegetables of different types and colours, and legumes/beans
- Grain (cereal) foods such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats and quinoa
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds
- Milk, yoghurt and cheese
Why stop at the children’s lunchboxes when you too could benefit from enjoying quick and healthy leftovers from your own lunch box. There are adult-appropriate lunch boxes widely available too.