Punch up school lunches

Packing snacks or lunches that won’t be traded with friends or even thrown away can present a challenge for parents. Yet healthy snacks and lunches, like breakfasts, provide kids with the energy they need throughout the day. What’s the magical recipe for spicing up your child’s lunchbox while keeping preparation time to a minimum? Mix one part child involved with a teaspoon of planning and add a pinch of creativity and your child will thank you.

Children are more likely to eat their lunch when they’ve had some say in what goes in their lunch box – whether that means helping to prepare and pack it or submitting a weekly list to post on the refrigerator of foods they’d like to have for lunch.

Try some of these quick and easy tips:

Top a celery stick with spreadable cheese and include some raisins for kids to sprinkle on the cheese. For dessert, spread cream cheese on apples and sprinkle with a little cinnamon.

Kids love to dip – pack a small, portable container of your child’s favourite salad dressings with veggies. Or dip fruit slices – apples, bananas, pears – in cream cheese or fruit yogurt.

Cut sandwiches into shapes using cookie cutters.

Yogurt in squeezable packages and string cheese are fun to eat and easy to pack. Or include a trail mix of dried fruits, wholegrain cereals and sunflower seeds so sprinkle over yogurt.

Unbuttered, unsalted popcorn and wholegrain cereals are healthy snacks that pack easily and are handy to munch on during the day.

Remember to mix it up. The same old lunch routine can get boring pretty quickly, but even the smallest changes can bring a new twist to an old idea. Try pitas instead of sandwich bread, substitute a jam sandwich for cucumbers or bananas or make a trail mix of pretzels, dried fruits and whole-grain cereals instead of crackers.

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