Monday, August 27, 2012

Back To School-7 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

 (Japanese Bento box-Image courtesy BBC News )
Getting a child to eat his lunch at school and making sure it's also a healthy meal can be a daily nightmare for most parents. A child's lunch plays an important role in meeting their day to day nutrition needs. To know more about the right foods for your child you can read  Is Your Child Getting the Right Nutrition .
Packing a healthy lunch box for a kid isn't always difficult. Sometimes it may not be always possible to pack a balanced meal into a child's lunch box. Just make sure to avoid packing junk food or processed foods like cookies,chips, jello's and such. Here are 7 Healthy lunch box ideas for your child: 
  1.  Parathas+ Yogurt+ Salad/Fruit: when made with less oil can become a healthy and filling lunch box favorite. Avoid the frozen commercially packed varieties (which may be more convenient) as they can be too oily. Alternatively (if time is a constraint)you could roll out the parathas in advance and cook them in the morning. Kids love aloo parathas,methi parathas, gobi parathas, radish parathas and even the most fussy kid will devour a broccoli paratha.
  2. Sandwiches/Wraps+ Fruit: (Use 100% whole wheat/ double fiber breads,pita breads or whole wheat tortillas/wraps). Fillings can be with the good ole' P&B(Peanut butter) or other nut butters(almond/sunflower/cashew nut,etc), chutney, guacamole, hummus, tofu spreads. You could add freshly cut fruits like bananas, strawberries, peaches  or vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce to the filling or put it as a side. Avoid adding salt/sugar as this could make the sandwiches soggy.Cold cuts of turkey,tuna, eggs, grilled chicken, or cheese slices could also be a filling option for kids
  3. Roti's, tortillas,bagels, English muffins (whole wheat)+ egg/paneer/tofu burji(scrambled), chole/rajma(lentil/pulse/bean) curry + salad/fruit.
  4. Rice dishes+ low-fat yogurt/Greek yogurt+ fruit/salad. You could make a mixed vegetable pulav, mint/pudina pulav, palak/spinach rice, peas pulav, curd/ yogut rice, egg/chicken fried rice and such.Try adding some pulse/lentil/paneer/tofu/soy nuggets to add some protein to the rice dish. Avoid dishes like khichdi, bisibele bath which are not palatable when eaten cold.
  5. Idli/dosa/dhokla + chutney/nut butters+ salad+ Low-fat milk. You could try out different varieties of dosas like adai, pesarattu, neer dosa and idlis like rava, coin, stuffed vegetable idlis.
  6. Mixed vegetable upma + low-fat yogurt+ fruit. The upma can be made from rava/semolina, oats, vermicelli poha or dhalia/broken wheat.
  7. Noodles, pasta+ salad+ 100% fruit juice. Try adding some mixed vegetables to the noodles/pasta along with chicken/tofu/paneer/egg to increase the fiber and protein content.
Try to be as creative as possible with the foods. Children love fun shapes, so use a cookie cutter to cut the salad vegetables/ fruits. Even sandwiches can be made into different fun shapes with the help of different sandwich cutters. Use desserts as an occasional treat for the kids. Don't make it a habit of giving a sweet drink (juice, flavored milk) on a daily basis.
Take a look at these creative Japanese moms: Japan's Amazing lunchboxes
 Bento Box-Image Courtesy BBC News Magazine


Jayanthy Kumaran said...

awesome post with lovely tips
Tasty Appetite

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

such great ideas for lunch... Working to get them for my kids lunch too...

Sweta (My Indian Dietitian) said...

@Jay-thank you :)
@HCOF- hope they like it!!