How many packets do you think should be in your children’s school lunch boxes?
I’m motivated to ask you because one day I noticed one young child with seven packets in their lunchbox. Seven!
Unfortunately, it has become quite acceptable for kids to have three or four processed, packaged snacks in their lunchbox every day. These packets include items like chips, breakfast or cereal bars, muesli bars, fruit straps, flavoured yoghurts, cheese and biscuit snacks, and even chocolate bars.
Being a busy parent, I know it can be difficult to know what is healthy – and there are so many conflicting marketing messages. I want to inspire people, especially children, to cook simple and nutritious recipes. I believe we need to make kids aware that real food is grown, and not from a factory.
I suggest you take small steps and reduce the amount of packaged snacks over time. You can start by making small changes, such as buying cheese and crackers or yoghurt in bulk, instead of the individually wrapped options. It’s a healthier alternative, more affordable and better for the environment too.
Sadly, scientists predict that, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish if we don’t stop polluting. So we need to act now! I love going to the beach for our family holidays and I hate to think that when my three children are 44, 42 and 40, they will be swimming in a sea of plastic.
Current statistics also show that one in four children are overweight or obese, and two in three adults. The high consumption of processed, packaged food has also been linked to diabetes, dental problems, asthma, allergies and behavioural issues. This will only get worse unless we start making changes.
It is not too late to make a difference, and I encourage you to get your kids involved at a young age. Support your kids to create simple snacks like no-bake muesli bars and bliss balls. If they take pride in their packet-free lunch box, their positive influence will spread through to the rest of the school.
My top five tips are:
- Prepare lunchbox snacks on the weekend and freeze them, e.g., muffins, cakes, biscuits, and slices
- When baking, add grated fruit and veg like zucchini, apple, carrot and pumpkin to provide more nutrients
- Ensure you have a variety of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables available
- Buy large pots of plain Greek yoghurt and divide into smaller containers and top with frozen berries
- Offer your kids egg and bacon muffins or boiled eggs, as they are packed with protein and will keep them full for longer.
As a start, try out this simple recipe:
Nut-free and no-bake muesli bars
(These tasty treats are pictured above, as the main image for this article)
- Rolled oats – 1 cup
- Coconut (I use 1/2 cup desiccated and 1/2 cup shredded) – 1 cup
- Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) – 1/2 cup
- Sunflower seeds – 1/2 cup
- Sesame seeds – 1/2 cup
- Sultanas or ‘craisins’ – 1/3 cup
- Ground cinnamon – 1 tsp
- Honey – 1/3 cup
- 125g butter
Melt butter and honey in a small saucepan and stir well.
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, mix well and pour the butter and honey mix over the dry ingredients.
Mix well and press down into a slice tray lined with baking paper. Put it in the freezer for 20 minutes to set. I keep it in the freezer as it tastes great when it is cold and holds its shape.
Cut into squares. Makes approximately 18 squares.
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