Spill the beans... on cheap, nutritious back to school lunchboxes

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  • themull1
    themull1 Posts: 4,299 Forumite
    Fire_Fox wrote: »
    Try to look at the whole day as well as the lunchbox (which I appreciate is the point of the thread). I find it helps to look at the number of portions of different foods that should be eaten and you should find there is no room left for foods that should not be eaten. Concentrate on wholefoods, items that have been messed around with as little as possible. Remember a key recommendation is a wide variety of different foods; so whilst wheat is not a 'bad' food it really should not be eaten three times a day (eg. cereal, bread, pasta). Ideally we'd all be eating seven to nine portions of fruit and veg a day so I base all meals around that - this supplies potassium which helps balance out any sodium (salt). Kids/ teens generally like a bit of fruit in their salads for sweetness, and kids often like the 'traffic light' bright colours in a meal.

    Sandwich-ish
    - Wholemeal pitta, granary bread, rough or cheesy oatcakes, Ryvita. If you keep the bread separate from the filling you can do open sandwiches so get more salad/ veg in but that might not work for really little ones

    - Fillings/ toppings: chicken or prawn and avocado, fish pate - simply canned pilchards or salmon with all the bones in mashed with flavoured soft cheese and sweetcorn. homemade chicken liver pate (will freeze) and sliced tomato, houmous and grated carrot, flavoured soft cheese and grapes/ apple, peanut butter and banana/ grapes, egg mayo spring onion and red pepper.

    - A large portion of one of the mixed salads.

    Substantial one pot salad
    - A modest portion of canned chick peas or butter beans or green lentils OR leftovers of steamed brown basmati rice or steamed pearl/ pot barley. Flavour the rice/ barley cooking water with Marigold reduced salt vegetable stock

    - Two small portions of different proteins because it makes salads more interesting! :p Chicken, frozen prawns, canned pilchards in tomato sauce, canned wild pink salmon, goats cheese/ blue cheese/ cheddar/ feta/ parmesan, hard boiled egg, any nuts or seeds. Occasionally reduced salt ham or bacon or tuna in spring water.

    - at least three salad items/ vegetables/ fruits: one red/ purple (tomato, red pepper, red onion, dried cranberries, red cabbage, black grapes, raisins soaked in red grapefruit juice, fresh cherries, frozen blueberries), one yellow or orange (sweetcorn, yellow/ orange pepper, carrot ribbons, canned ruby red grapefruit), one green (avocado, cucumber, spring onion, Granny Smith apple, baby spinach, cos lettuce, broccoli florets, green grapes). Don't waste energy making kids/ teens eat salad leaves unless they are a strong colour, there is little nutrition in iceberg lettuce and an 80g portion is HUGE.

    - a dressing based on: yoghurt/ soft cheese/ French mustard, tomato paste and garlic, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil, olive tapenade, pesto.

    Often you can make half the salad the night before and just add the dressing or items that go off easily in the morning.

    Dips & crudites
    - Two of: houmous, lentil pate, guacamole, tomato salsa (Loyd Grossman pasta sauces!), full fat soft cheese dip, etc.

    - At least three different colours of raw veggie sticks (carrot, sliced red peppers, brocolli or cauliflower florets, button mushrooms, celery hearts, asparagus tips, baby sweetcorn, sugar snap peas).

    - Ryvita, oat cakes, wholemeal pitta fingers if wished.

    This can be relatively low in calories or protein so be sure to give kids/ teens something calorie dense like a homemade flapjack or nuts that day.

    Mixed salads
    - Homemade coleslaw (red or sweetheart cabbage, carrot ribbons, red onion). Can add grated cheese.

    - Grated carrot, orange, raisin, sliced almond salad (soak raisins in orange juice)

    - Waldorf salad (celery, Granny Smith apple, walnut, black grapes). Can add chicken.

    All three as a meal or one with a sandwich. All last a few days so can be made in bulk.

    Snacky things
    Mixed nuts and dried or fresh fruit
    Cheese portion and dried or fresh fruit
    Plain yoghurt sweetened with chopped dried fruit or frozen mixed berries, topped with a mix of seeds and Grape Nuts cereal or granola/ crunchy oat cereal
    Homemade flapjacks with dried fruit, natural sugar substitute (xylitol, stevia) and creamed coconut in place of at least half the butter
    Savoury cheese, wheatgerm, jumbo oats and nut flapjacks
    Naughty treat: chocolate 'cornflake' cakes (not too sugary/ diabetic dark chocolate, own brand fruit'n'fibre, any chopped dried fruit).

    HTH. :A

    My daughter certainly wouldnt eat pilchards or chicken liver pate, neither would i for lunch, raw broccoli and cauliflower god no!! - the pilchards would stink to high heaven!!. I think things in moderation, the lunchboxes need to be healthy not over the top Gillian Mckeith!! No treat should be labelled as 'naughty' either.
  • jasmin10
    jasmin10 Posts: 905 Forumite
    I agree no food should be labelled as naughty just in moderation, just for us to teach them which things are better for them.

    Very sad but there was a girl at my dd school last year whose mum said she 'can't have a lunchbox today as they didn't have any crisps to put in' I nearly fell over - why should this mean she can't take a lb. Needless to say the poor child is rather (very much) overweight. It's makes me feel so sorry for her as its so not the child's fault, not mother comments all the time about it all the time and just fobs it off saying that she. Will grow quite tall - surely healthy eating should be instilled from an early age to give them the tools to make good choices when older.

    Great idea about using the waste bread from the cutters for breadcrumbs. Will defo be doing that.

    Thanks for all the good ideas
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  • Fire_Fox
    Fire_Fox Posts: 26,026 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker
    themull1 wrote: »
    My daughter certainly wouldnt eat pilchards or chicken liver pate, neither would i for lunch, raw broccoli and cauliflower god no!! - the pilchards would stink to high heaven!!. I think things in moderation, the lunchboxes need to be healthy not over the top Gillian Mckeith!! No treat should be labelled as 'naughty' either.

    Oh dear your daughter is a fussy little thing, isn't she? Why are you bothering to read a thread on nutritious lunchboxes if you are going to be so rude about the suggestions? Has your daughter inherited your appalling manners as well as your finickiness?

    Your comparison shows nothing more than ignorance. Gillian McKeith has fake qualifications and advocates highly restrictive bland diets, I have real qualifications and suggested a broad range of flavoursome foods. Normal foods that normal people have been eating for CENTURIES before branded carp came along and CENTURIES before fussy children were getting type 2 diabetes.
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  • jellyhead
    jellyhead Posts: 21,555 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
    Fire Fox I thought of this thread last night. I don't think we've ever had wheat for all 3 meals before but I felt guilty. One of my children is overweight.

    Do you have any suggestions for wheat-free breakfasts?
    52% tight
  • My son is only 3 but we regularly eat out so, due to my son and OH being vegetarian and I am vegan, we always take packed lunches!
    I do homemade re-fried beany wraps, glued together with melted cheese or vegan cheese in my case and sweetcorn. We also have mixed wraps containing hummous, grated carrot, diced beetroot, diced cucumber, sweetcorn, lettuce and greek yogurt (I have coconut yogurt). Also popular are kale chips, chopped kiwi with sesame halve in yogurt, any types of fruit. My son does eat eggs (organic) so I do him egg mayo with a little curry powder and some puy lentils and raisins mixed in which he loves. For treats I buy the naked bars which are made from dried fruit and nuts, homemade beetroot & chocolate muffins (one of 5 a day and vegan), and chestnut rolls (alternative to sausage rolls). Sometimes I buy samosas - Goodlife do really nice frozen lentil and mango slices which are like samosas and lovely. Occationally he has banana and peanut butter wrap with a little chocolate sauce!
  • They give puddings such as cake and custard fot children on school dinners, why, because a child id on pack lunches should they not be allowed such treats?
    My son is changing to pack lunches this year. He will have sandwich/roll or tuna pasta, frube, apple and or grapes, homemade biscuit/cake and maybe something else.
  • When I used to watch my friend's child over lunch time I used to make us each a pack up. I would include a carton/bottle of squash, then one of the following; sandwich, wrap, pitta, slice of hm pizza/quiche. Along with a piece of fruit or small pot of fruit salad, homemade flapjack or cake and the either a small yogurt or portion of cheese. I always carry cereal bars and fresh fruit in my handbag so those made up our snacks and we had a bottle of water each for throughout the afternoon too.

    When younger I had something very similar to what I do now and in the summer would have rice or pasta salads or a veggie salad all with either ham or chicken, cheese and apple 'sandwich' snackers and then a hm treat and drink. As I got older I would occasionally be sent with a small thermos of the most amazing hm soup - everyone used to say they wanted my lunch and some of the staff even asked my mother for her recipes and asked where she got the time to make such amazing lunches!

    A real treat would be digestive biscuits and cheese or apple and peanut butter snackers :)

    Now I think about it the only think thats changed is the portion size!
    ************************************
    Daughter born 26/03/14
    Son born 13/02/21
  • Elsewhere
    Elsewhere Posts: 752 Forumite
    edited 1 September 2012 at 1:33PM
    This thread made me think back to when I took packed lunches to school (1950s!). My favourite was white bread sandwiches (no crusts!) containing cucumber sprinkled with sugar :rotfl:

    Others used to have tomato sauce sandwiches... or banana, which I thought was horrible. Even worse was the one who used to bring a pot of cold baked beans...
  • Fire_Fox
    Fire_Fox Posts: 26,026 Forumite
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    edited 1 September 2012 at 2:55PM
    jellyhead wrote: »
    Fire Fox I thought of this thread last night. I don't think we've ever had wheat for all 3 meals before but I felt guilty. One of my children is overweight.

    Do you have any suggestions for wheat-free breakfasts?

    Awww don't feel guilty, I was meaning to illustrate how easy it is not to eat a wide variety of foods which is one of the official guidelines. :o For weight management try to get at least three portions of fruit or vegetables in at breakfast, you will automatically reduce the portion size of the grains whilst still having a substantial breakfast. Protein, fat and fibre help keep you fuller for longer - nuts and seeds are rich in all three.


    - Porridge with jumbo oats and fruit (for speed soak the oats in the milk overnight OR bring to the boil the night before, turn the heat off and leave to cool, refrigerate overnight, microwave to heat through)

    - homemade muesli (50% barley flakes/ jumbo oats, 50% nuts/ seeds/ dried fruits) soaked in milk or plain yoghurt

    - parfait (layered plain yoghurt, fruit puree, frozen berries, canned peaches, Grape Nuts cereal or crunchy oat cereal) **little wheat in the Grape Nuts, little sugar in the crunchy oat**

    - smoothie (tinned evaporated milk or plain yoghurt, banana, plain whey protein powder, two portions frozen berries or other frozen fruit)

    - huge fruit salad (four fruits including banana, some can be frozen or canned for speed) tinned evaporated milk, sliced almonds

    - Poached or scrambled eggs and baked beans, extra squirt tomato paste, apple juice or red grapefruit juice

    - sweet omelette (souffle style at the weekend)

    - breakfast omelette (overfill with mushrooms, tomato, sweetcorn, leek or red onion, soft cheese)

    - wafer thin or air dried ham, thinly planed cheese, any unsalted nuts with three portions of fruit (eg. green apple slices, black grapes, sour cherries, dried pear, dried apricots, melon, strawberries, fresh pineapple, blueberries, canned red grapefruit)

    HTH. :)
    They give puddings such as cake and custard fot children on school dinners, why, because a child id on pack lunches should they not be allowed such treats?

    Please read what we actually posted instead of what you expected us to post: several people questioned the sense in listing processed and junk foods given the thread title. I also noted that the healthy eating guidelines say fatty/ sugary/ processed/ junk foods should comprise no more than 10% of daily calories. *Some* custards are relatively low in sugar and may count as a dairy portion.

    It is possible to home bake certain cakes and cereal bars with healthy ingredients - the stuff to leave out is sugar, honey/ syrup, white flour and to reduce butter. These can be replaced with xylitol, stevia, wholegrain flour, wheatgerm, whole oats, unsweetened apple sauce, prune puree, vegetable oils, creamed coconut. Ingredients like grated carrot, banana, pumpkin puree and dried fruit count towards your nine a day and nuts or seeds are rich in healthy fats.

    Contrary to popular belief chocolate is not a 'naughty' food - cocoa powder is packed with antioxidants, minerals and fibre, it's the sugars and vegetable fat in regular chocolate that are bad for you.
    Declutterbug-in-progress.⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
  • jellyhead
    jellyhead Posts: 21,555 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
    Thanks, he already eats blueberries until they come out of his ears :) We've got 3 bushes in the garden. He has an egg most mornings too, and I can definitely see a difference on the days where he has cereal (with lactose free milk) because the cereal doesn't fill him up for long and he asks for food again.

    He would happily wrap his egg in ham, I'll try that :)
    52% tight
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