Tips on How to Pack a Healthy Lunchbox for the KidsWith the kids already back at school, there’s no better time to get some inspiration on how to pack a healthy lunchbox for them. Considering that around two to three meals that a child consumes per day are consumed at school, a healthy lunchbox should be high on the priority list for every parent. However, making a healthy, balanced and tasty lunch for the kids doesn’t have to be a struggle for parents.

Banin Shanine, Nutrition Manager at Fitness First, shares her top tips for creating a healthy lunchbox that is also creative and one that all the kids will enjoy.

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Packing a Healthy Lunchbox at Your Fingertips

Healthy Carbs

Tips on How to Pack a Healthy Lunchbox for the Kids

A healthy carb is essential to provide the energy and concentration needed to get through those afternoon classes. Try whole wheat bread, pasta, brown rice or popcorn to keep those energy levels up

Vegetables are a Must

One serving of vegetables (this may be the toughest nutrient to include in the healthy lunchbox so try testing in small portions) – smaller vegetables such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers or broccoli are usually most appealing for kids

Don’t Forget the Fruits

Tips on How to Pack a Healthy Lunchbox for the Kids

One serving of fruit to strengthen the immune system and help fight illnesses is a must – this could be anything ranging from a banana, pear, peach, kiwi, grapes, berries or even dried fruits

Vital Proteins

Foods high in protein such as cheese, eggs, labneh, turkey and chicken breast are vital for healthy growth

Daily Dairy

Tips on How to Pack a Healthy Lunchbox for the Kids

Milk and dairy products are an important part of a young child’s diet – include full-fat milk in the healthy lunchbox to provide a high amount of protein and is low in sugar compared to low-fat alternatives. Full fat milk is also naturally high in vitamin D which may be lost with low-fat variants due to the processing stage

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Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, especially for young kids, are needed in their diet to help the brain and nervous system develop normally. These can include healthy raw nuts such as almonds and walnuts or olives

Water is Life

Tips on How to Pack a Healthy Lunchbox for the Kids

Water is the number one drink to complement a healthy lunchbox. Drinking water at a young age is a great habit to get into especially when in such warm weather like Dubai. Milk or laban are also recommended, as they are both high in calcium and vitamin D. Beware of juices as the sugar content is high and may alter your kids’ concentration

Tips for dealing with fussy eaters:

  • Always remember, your child will never starve themselves.
  • Use this time to get them to try new foods – start to add foods that they would not usually eat in very small quantities.
  • Involve your child in preparing his/her lunchbox.
  • Send some foods that he/she is not familiar with to share with friends – if they see their friends enjoying it, maybe they will too.
  • If your child doesn’t like a certain food in their healthy lunchbox, try to substitute it with something else, e.g. if they don’t like milk, swap it for yogurt.

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Food safety is always paramount when preparing a packed lunch:

  •  Lunchbox should be an isolated lunch box or double-sided.
  •  Use ice packs or a small frozen water bottle to keep food fresh.
  •  Wash your hands before preparing your child’s healthy lunchbox.

If preparing a healthy lunchbox each morning is not feasible, the Health Authority and Municipality have strict laws in place for school canteens in Dubai, meaning that they make for a satisfactory alternative to bringing your own food. It’s still important to bear in mind that there are still unhealthy foods on offer:

AvoidReplace with
Croissant / Manakeesh Whole wheat bread sandwiches
ChipsPopcorn
Fresh JuiceApple or Banana
SodaWater