Back to School lunch box advice? We asked the Experts!
It’s back to school time again here in Donegal, which means a return to the morning rush, a constant scramble for lunchbox ideas and often uneaten or half-eaten lunches coming back home again – and the resultant food waste! We all want our kids to enjoy a healthy and filling lunch while at school and here are some tips to ensure lunches don’t end up thrown in the bin!
Planning and prepping food ahead is key to healthy lunches for the week. While this tip may seem quite a chore it is very effective. It just means spending a little time getting organised at the weekends to see you ‘lunch ready’ for the week ahead.
Getting kids involved in making their lunches means they are more likely to eat what they have helped prepare. For younger kids you can give them different lunch options to choose from, while your teens could add their own lunch food list to the main shopping list. The idea is to try to keep school lunches nutritious, while also making sure our kids are interested in eating them.
Keeping track of uneaten or half-eaten lunches is a great way to find out about your children’s lunch preferences and if they are tiring of certain foods. At the end of each week you could check in to see what food your children don’t like as much or if there is something new they would like to try - often because their friend had it for lunch. This will help you make a list of lunch options which can be added to and changed over time.
Using dinner leftovers for lunch the next day can make a quick and nutritious alternative to a sandwich. Many meal leftovers such as pasta, noodles, tortillas etc are just as good when eaten at room temperature while others e.g. stews can be kept warm in thermal containers which often come with a spoon and fork attached. A range of thermal, reusable lunch boxes and containers on the market has opened-up new lunch options for your child.
Adapting lunches to school routines can help you to tailor school lunches so that your child has time to eat their food during breaks and reduces food wasted e.g. small sized or pre-cut fruit take less time to eat and cut back on waste. Where microwaves are not available in schools your child can have a warm lunch e.g. soup or meal leftovers using thermal flasks.
Odile Le Bolloch, spokesperson for the Stop Food Waste programme at the EPA, said:
“As parents, it is important that we provide our kids with nutritious and tasty lunches to help keep them healthy and happy while they settle into the new school term. The Stop Food Waste programme www.stopfoodwaste.ie has tips and information for parents on how to provide school lunches that are planned, focused on your children’s needs, avoid food waste and save money too.”
Following the practical tips above will help parents to plan school lunches with their children with a focus on avoiding food waste. For more information check out www.stopfoodwaste.ie
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