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School Lunchboxes 101

As the holiday season comes to a close, parents all around Aotearoa breathe a sigh of relief! Say goodbye to the long hours of salty skin, sandy hair and wondering how to entertain your little loves every day of the week. Say hello to the new school year.

Getting ready for school can be a challenge for both parents and kids. It can all seem a bit like a whirlwind after the busy December season. Which class are your tamariki in? Do they have all the right stationery? What will they take for lunch?

Luckily, we can help you with that last question! Here at Henderson’s, we’re all about the art of the lunchbox.

Tip #1: Cover All The Food Groups

When your little ones are busy learning, they need plenty of fuel to get them through the day! Building their lunchboxes around all four food groups is the best way to give them all the nutrients they need.

Here’s what you should add into a healthy and balanced lunchbox:

1. Grains

Carbs like bread, pasta, cereal and rice are all great sources of energy for your kiddos.

Think tasty sandwiches, healthy crackers, some yummy Salami Pizza Scrolls or even a pasta salad – our kids love eating the Baked Penne with Salami when it’s cold!

You could even roll some homemade sushi or make them a wrap or stuffed pita. Get creative! Your kids will love the variety.

2. Fruits and veggies

It’s always a great idea to eat the rainbow. Fresh, colourful fruit and veg will brighten your kids’ lunchbox AND help them get their 5+ a day.

Make the fruit and veggies as fun for your kids as possible and use whatever is in season to get the most bang for your buck.

Strawberries always go down a treat in Summer! Or you can cut some carrots and celeries into small stucks and pop some hummus into their lunchbox for a yummy afternoon snack.

Here are some of our favourites:

  • Baby tomatoes

  • Carrot sticks

  • Celery sticks

  • Grapes

  • Cherries

  • Strawberries

  • Blueberries

  • Sliced melon

  • Apple slices – cover them in lemon juice first to stop them going brown!

  • Fruit pottles

  • Mini salads

3. Dairy

Dairy is perhaps the least important food group to incorporate in your kids’ lunchboxes – but if you can include it, that’s great!

Some of our favourites include:

  • Unflavoured milk

  • Plain/Greek yoghurt

  • Cottage cheese

  • Cheese sticks (or cheese with crackers!)

4. Protein

Protein is an awesome way to get long-lasting energy into your kids. But that doesn’t mean you need to feed them a steak for lunch!

Instead, see if you can incorporate some good proteins into their lunchtime meal. You could add some chorizo to a pasta salad, include beans or eggs in a salad, fill a sandwich with leftover chicken or turkey, or even sneak some Henderson’s bacon or salami into a lunchtime wrap!

You could also think outside the square and include a slice of this tasty Bacon Breakfast Tart!

If your kids are vegetarian, options like falafel bits and edamame beans make great alternatives.

Tip #2: Get Your Kids Involved

It’s all very well to put together the perfect lunchbox, but it’s no use if the lunchbox still comes home uneaten. All too often, our little people can be fussy about what they eat – and despite our best efforts, sometimes the lunchbox goes untouched!

If you’ve got a picky eater, get them to help put together their lunchbox.

Have them pick a few veggies or fruits that they want to eat in their lunches that week, then have them help chop them and put together dip containers.

They could even help you bake some salami scrolls or make dips together!

Tip #3: Use Leftovers!

It’s no secret that we LOVE leftovers here at Hendersons. They make a delish lunch for work or school the next day and require nearly no efforts. Leftover pizza? Perfect lunch! Leftover Caramelised Onion, Spinach and Bacon Quiche? Serve it up!

As long as your kiddies have a good lunchbox that can keep their food cold ‘til lunch is served, leftovers are everyone’s fav lunchbox snack.

Tip #4: Keep it Cold

Kiwi summers can be roasting! So when you’re putting together a lunchbox for your tamariki, make sure you consider how you can keep their lunch cold.

It can be as easy as adding a small ice pack into your child’s lunch bag along with their lunch box, or getting a special cooler lunch ice pack.

Tip #5: Treats in Moderation

When you’re putting together the perfect lunchbox, remember that treats should only be in moderation! And wherever possible, they should also be balanced – a combination of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

Options like oat cookies, healthy muffins, bliss balls, homemade muesli bars and homemade pita chips with dip all make super tasty snacks… but they’re still much better for your kids than just eating candy!

Tip #6: Check with School

Before you start churning out yummy lunch boxes, always check if your kids’ school has any restrictions on foods they can bring onto the campus. Some schools don’t allow nuts – so make sure you know the rules before you send your munchking with a PB & J sandwich!

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