Whether you’re making a packed lunch for nursery, going for a picnic or eating out at a friends and need to take food – here are some top tips and ideas for you:
- Food should be appetising and fun. Squashed sandwiches and bashed up veggies may not appeal – it can be hard to keep food looking nice. A good idea is to use a lunchbox that is segmented into compartments or a lunch bag that you can fill with little tupperware pots to keep those foods looking good and transport them safely. Do remember to pack the cutlery!
2) Aim to include the main food groups in each lunch (read more about the food groups here), with carbohydrates, protein, fruit and veggies and essential fats. This can make it super easy to plan out what to pack- just tick off the food groups. See the examples below for ideas:
3) It doesn’t have to look like an adult packed lunch. Your little one will have different ideas about what they like and that is fine. Many will not enjoy sandwiches but love a sushi style wrap, pinwheels or breadsticks with cheese and hummus.
4) Cut foods up so they can be safely eaten. Anything round like a cherry tomato, grape or olive needs to be sliced in half lengthways as these foods can be choking risks.
5) Keep it colourful and fun! Try using little cutters to make sandwiches more interesting, add silicone cake cases for a splash of colour, make a pasta salad with colourful vegetables or try slicing veggies up in different ways.
6) Get baking. When you have a bit more time, try baking some savoury muffins, some courgette pancakes, make mini pizzas, or some fruity flapjacks using banana instead of syrup. These all freeze well and can defrost overnight, giving you options to make a fast packed lunch the night before it’s needed.
Here are some mealtime ideas, which can work well on-the-go:
- Chicken and hummus sandwiches cut into stars with a cutter. Blueberries. Cherry tomatoes sliced up with cucumber sticks. Plain yoghurt in a squeezy pouch. Dried apricots.
- Eggy muffins (chop up veggie and place in a muffin tin so it is half way full. Top with beaten egg and bake in the oven). Wholemeal crackers. Mini sweetcorn and green beans, steamed. Sliced of melon with sliced up grapes and chunks of cheese.
- Wholemeal wrap spread with cream cheese, tuna and avocado, roll up and slice into rounds, sushi sized. Celery sticks. Chunks of pineapple. Fromage frais. Mini flapjack.
- Pasta salad with sweetcorn, peas and grated carrot, a little pesto. Slices of apple and raisins. Drink of milk.
- Mini pizzas from the freezer (make your own pizza dough or use a ready made base and slice it up. Top with tomato puree, vegetables, some meat or tofu and cheese). Satsumas. Greek yoghurt in a squeezy pouch.
Enjoy these exciting and varied lunchtime ideas for your little ones lunch box!
-Written by For Aisha nutritionist Priya Tew.