I have been finding that lunch and snacks are becoming the most important meals of the day for making sure my kids are meeting my nutrition goals for them. I know everyone talks about breakfast being the most important, but my kids have eating breakfast down pat. As long as I serve them some cereal or toast, a glass of milk, a yoghurt and some fruit, they are happy and wolf it down. So that is one meal that is taken care of. Dinner, well, dinner is hit and miss. Some nights they wolf it down. More often than not, they pick and move it around, and then refuse to eat anymore. Nick and I really don’t want to make mealtimes a battleground, so we’ve decided to let it go, and I have been focusing on making sure they eat well at lunch and snack times.
Having said all of that, I really don’t want to be making lunch from scratch everyday – we are just too busy for that. Instead, I have been stocking up the pantry and fridge with a range of healthy ingredients so I can mix and match and pull together quick and easy snacks and lunches.
- Wholewheat/wholegrain bread – I have been using Abbott’s Bakery Granary bread which is a mix of sprouted grain and wholewheat.
- Sliced deli ham and chicken – I know these are not ideal options (full of nitrates and salt), but they are still OK sources of quick and easy protein
- Boiled eggs – I put a saucepan of eggs on every few days, and store the cooked eggs in the fridge. Great sliced or as curried egg in sandwiches or made into devilled eggs.
- Sliced cheddar cheese (I try to pre-slice cheese off a large block at the beginning of the week rather than buying processed cheese slices)
- Almond butter – I add this to smoothies, put it in sandwiches and crackers, or serve with apple slices
- Plain homemade yoghurt – I usually sweeten it with a bit of honey, some jam or some stewed fruit
Fruits and Veggies
- Fresh strawberries and blueberries when in season, frozen for smoothies when out of season
- Bananas – on their own, in sandwiches with some almond butter, and of course, in smoothies
- Apples – great as a snack, even better as cheese and apple sandwiches!
- Cucumber – my kids like them as half moons to eat on their own, or sticks to dip into homemade dip
- Grape or cherry tomatoes – make sure to cut in half for younger ones
- Rice crackers, vita-wheat crackers or pretzels serve as healthy replacements for chips
- Homemade jelly (jello) made from 100% juice and gelatin (we are loving an apple, cranberry and pomegranate juice at the moment)
- Cheese rounds (Mini Babybel – these little round treats are real cheese, not processed cheese)
- Applesauce tubs
- Trail mix
From these on-hand ingredients, I can whip together a balanced lunch or snack containing protein, carbs, dairy, fruit and veg. Some of our favourite lunches are our Muffin Tin Monday Lunches (also see pic at the top). I very rarely follow Michelle’s themes (I’m just not that organised and the pic below of “red white and blue” just proves it!) but despite that, the kids love being able to pick at little bits and pieces.