Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Lunchbox Police

It's often difficult to put together a packed lunch that caters for your child's tastes and passes the healthy test. "I can understand parents' frustrations over packed lunches", says Tracy, who has an eight year-old. "I'm fortunate that my child is easy to cater for as she eats most things. However, children can be very fickle and selective over what they eat. Trying to attain a happy medium between providing a healthy lunch and ensuring it's something the child will eat, is a constant balancing act."

I'm keen to provide the Evacuees with packed lunches that fill them up, are nutritious, and actually get eaten, but, as Tracy says, "it's unfortunate that the healthy options are often the most expensive, prohibitively so if you have more than one child."

Here are some ideas for how to ensure your kids' lunch packs a punch (in a good way):

Buy Healthy Snacks to Go eBook Recipes Online1. I err on the side of what Prima and Secundus will eat. An example of this is the fact that school policy is to only allow cold water to be drunk at school. I know that, if I provide them with a bottle of cold water, the Evacuees will not drink it. Instead I provide a fruit squash drink, in an opaque bottle, and they don't go thirsty. 

In addition, I have no qualms about providing them with treats like a chocolate biscuit or homemade cake. Mum of two, Leanne says " Put what they like in! They deserve a treat at lunch after working hard all morning. I don't stress and don't give a second thought to what people think to my daughters' pack lunches". If they do not eat their sandwich and fruit, I will start removing the treat from the packed lunch. Many mums like Leanne and Tracy "understand schools wanting to promote healthy eating and governmental drive to head off the so-called obesity time bomb but it has to be taken in context". For some excellent recipes and inspiration, including her super-popular granola bars, take a look at Healthy Snacks to Go by Katie Kimball. 

2. Be seasonal. A friend of my sister-in-law sends her children "with a flask of hot food for lunch in the winter. Stews/ casseroles /bolognase mince, with piece of bread or wrap to go with it. It's cheaper as she has four kids ( who eat almost everything). In the summer she does pieces of homemade pizza or wraps rather than sandwiches." Do check with your school as to whether they allow hot food.

3. Give the evacuees a healthy snack such as raw fruit or vegetables on the walk home from school. If there are items left in their sandwich boxes, I will give these to Prima and Secundus to consume on the way home too. I agree with Tracy that "it is not the responsibility of a school to police what a child eats if that food is provided by a parent. The child may well have food-related issues which a parent is better equipped to deal with. Surely it is better that the child eats something rather than insist certain foods are provided that the child will not eat."

4. Keep checking what the children actually like to eat, as this changes over time. We found out, for example, at the weekend, that Secundus likes cold pizza. This is the first I have heard of it.

5. Try to offer as much variety as possible, such as different types of bread products, but don't stress over it if your child prefers to eat the same kind of things each day. I think this is a comfort thing. Some kids like to know what they're going to have for lunch; others prefer surprises. 

6. Put notes in your children's lunchboxes when children have spelling tests etc, or if they are returning to school after holidays or illness. Be aware that boys may face teasing if their notes have kisses at the bottom. Sad but true. I do a smiley face for Secundus instead. There are free printable lunch notes at Chickabug, which are really sweet.

World Map Lunch Bag
7. Make life easier for your children by providing them with lunchboxes that can easily be identified. This means avoid Skylanders, Hello Kitty and 1D. It is still possible to find lunchbags that relate to your child's interests, though. Secundus is keen on maps and compasses, so this World Map lunchbag is perfect for him. 

Hard-wearing and washable (the last lunchbag we bought from this range lasted more than three years), it is made out of recycled recycled plastic. Costing £4.90 from KidsTravelClub, it comes with a zip closure and carry handles, and, at 20cm x 14cm x 15cm, has plenty of space inside for a drinks bottle, sandwich, fruit and treat. (Whatever the Lunchbox Police say!)


  1. Great tips - especially #4! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  2. I personally don't think it is their business what parents pack their children for lunch. They claim they want them to be healthy then why are they serving junk that has been genetically mutated, contains no vitamins or minerals.


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