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Packed Lunches vs School Meals – Which Adds Up?

Every youngster needs a decent meal in the middle of a day to help them keep their energy levels up.

School meals have come a long way since the days of lumpy mash, grey mince and semolina. Food standards say they must now include protein rich, unprocessed meat or fish, low fat carbs, dairy such as yoghurt or cheese as well as fruit and vegetables.

But, if your little one is still finding them hard to swallow, your money could be going the same way as their leftover meal. Packed lunches are a popular option, especially for faddy eaters. But, if you’re not careful, the cost can soon add up.

Here’s some tips for a lunch box that will make them, and you, smile.

  •      The staple sandwich is a brilliant way of getting young children to eat carbs (in the bread) and protein (in the filling). But ring the changes with bagels (unintentional pun), stuffed pitta pockets and wraps
  •      What child doesn’t like finger-food? Keep things interesting by chopping up raw veg such as carrots or peppers but include some soft cheese or hummus to dip them in. Wrap the veggies in dampened kitchen towel to keep them crisp
  •      Kids love a little creativity and unusual salads might appeal to them. Pasta, potato, rice, couscous, quinoa, or fruit salad – mix it up
  •      Egg based meals are tasty such as a mini quiche, frittata, Scotch egg or even a plain old simple hard-boiled egg in its shell! Half the fun is peeling it
  •      Always include at least two portions of fruit and vegetables. Tiny vine-cherry tomatoes are sweet and juicy and all children seem to love sticks of cucumber
  •      Cereal bars are often packed full of sugar, but dried fruit, nuts, and crunchy granola are a healthier alternative and make a tasty snack
  •      Let your little one take charge of the lunch box. That doesn’t mean let them fill it with Haribo but let them help chop, dice and prepare the ingredients. If they select things for themselves, they’ll be less likely to waste it

One final note, on the weekly shop, task them with finding delicious, healthy (but affordable) ingredients for their packed lunches. Their choices might surprise you. If you’ve mistakenly labelled them as fussy-eaters, you might be forced to eat your own words!