Parents are usually busy in the morning, rushing around trying to get kids out of bed, dressed, fed, and in the car to child care or school. So it can be tempting to throw together a vegemite sandwich for their lunchbox and call it a day. But did you know that the daily lunchbox you pack for your child can have a significant impact on their ability to learn? Certain foods are helpful to the learning process with slow-release energy and others can cause fast peaks following but long lows. We’ve put together a few ideas to consider for the next time you’re packing lunch.

Fruit

Did you know that an apple can be more effective than keeping a person awake than coffee? That’s because the natural sugars release slowly and provide you with sustained energy. This can be great for kids since their first sip of coffee is probably a decade or two away! Fruit is a great way to add natural sugars to your child’s diet, and fruit salads are a great way to add lots of vitamins.

TIME-SAVING TIP: If your child is fussy with fruit and doesn’t like eating it off the core or peeling anything, chop up some fruit the night before and store your fruit salad in containers. If your little ones are picky with their apple going brown squeeze a bit of lime or lemon juice over the top of the fruit salad to stop them going brown.

Vegetables

Veggies are healthy and nutritious but aren’t always loved by kids. Some of that will have to do with the approach of people around them towards vegetables, and some of it will have to do with the food palettes being in the early stages. Make veggies a positive in your home and encourage kids to find vegetables they like. Carrot and celery sticks are a great way to get vegetables into your child’s lunchbox – and they’re delicious.

Dairy

Dairy can be an important part of your child’s nutrition for calcium and gut health. Yoghurts are great for kids to build up their good bacteria for their stomach, though some are better than others. Greek yoghurts are usually better for gut bacteria and generally don’t contain as much sugar as regular yoghurts – so they can be a great addition to lunch boxes.

For parents whose children are lactose intolerant, or choose not to eat animal-based products, we suggest talking to your doctor or nutritionist for the best supplements.

Grains

Grains are a fundamental part of your child’s development through nutrition. While we’re not recommending you pack them bird seed in their lunch box, there are easy ways for you to integrate grains into their day.

A few suggestions are:

BreakfastLunch box
Oats or porridge
Cereal (avoid the sugary ones)
Toast
Whole grain sandwich
Rice (basmati, low GI white or brown)
Pasta (maybe a pasta salad)
Museli bar

The lower the glycemic index (GI) ranking of the carbohydrates, the longer lasting effect they will have on your child’s energy levels.

Proteins

Proteins are also key to your child’s development and aren’t always just about animal products. If your family avoid animal products for personal or religious reasons, your child can still have just as much protein as anyone else.

Animal-based proteinsVegan proteins
Milk
Eggs
Cheese
Lean meats, fish and poultry
Greek yoghurt
Soy milk
Peanut butter
Beans, tofu, lentils
Bread and pasta
Nuts and seeds

Pack their lunch full of nutrition

Hopefully, our blog post has given you some ideas for lunches. It can always be stressful in the morning when you’re doing a million things and trying to get some sleepy kids awake and dressed. Our last tip is to pack their lunch the night before so in the morning all you have to do is grab it and go!

- The Sunkids Team