Did you know that a good way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is to increase the amount of fruit & veg that you eat?
Eating plenty of fruit and veg is essential for a balanced diet, and getting your kids used to eating these essential foods will help them avoid a range of serious illnesses (including heart disease and certain cancers) in later life.
Fruit and veg are a natural addition to your child’s lunchbox – they’re an ideal healthy snack, they don’t make a mess, they don’t need much packaging and they’re cheap! There are lots of different varieties to choose from so you don’t have to pack the same thing every day.
Most types of fruit are ideal fillers for lunchboxes, although you may want to avoid using ones that younger children will find difficult to peel on their own. It’s worth leaving the peel on where possible, as there are lots of fibre and other nutrients in the skin – don’t forget to wash fruit that is going to be eaten with the skin on.
Some of our favourite lunchbox fruit includes:
- Apples – try chopping into interesting shapes
- Bananas – you can cut a small slit at the top if your kids have difficulty peeling them
- Mandarins/Clementines/Satsumas – easier to peel than regular oranges
- Grapes – one handful counts as a portion
- Pears – if your child only eats apples, try widening their horizons with a pear!
- Berries – strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, buy frozen to save money
- Kiwis – slice in half and your kids can eat them the same way as a boiled egg
If you’ve got a bit of time, you can chop fruit up and make a little fruit salad to put in a small tupperware pot. Shake it up with some lemon juice to stop the fruit from going brown.
Adding chopped fruit to natural yoghurt is also a great way to jazz up both fruit and yoghurt. You can even use frozen fruit, and the beauty of this is that the frozen fruit will keep the yoghurt cool! Add a drop of honey if your kids find the yoghurt a bit sour. Your homemade mix will still be much lower in sugar (and higher in fruit!) than most of the “fruit” yoghurts you can buy in the shops.
If you’re getting lunches ready for more than one child, smoothies can be well worth the effort of throwing a few bits of fruit into a blender. You can prepare it the night before and store the mixture in the fridge. Pour the mix into leak-proof flasks or bottles the next morning before the school run.
Raw vegetables can be just as tasty and versatile as fruit, and they are also great additions for lunchboxes. Some of the best kinds of veg to be eaten raw include:
- Salad leaves (e.g. lettuce, rocket, mizuna, baby spinach, beetroot leaves)
Raw Veggie Sticks
Chop raw vegetables into matchstick sized pieces and serve them as they are. Carrots, peppers and celery are particularly good for this. As an added extra, include a pot of hummus that kids will enjoy dipping into.
Try making a mini-salad using carrot ribbons, tomatoes and some lettuce leaves. The more colour, the better! You can make vegetable ribbons by using a peeler on things like cucumbers, carrots and courgettes. They’re easy to eat and add a bit of novelty.
Don’t forget, fruit and veg can also be included in lunchboxes as parts of sandwich fillings and cracker toppings.
Get the Kids Involved
If you get the kids involved in the shopping, chopping and selecting fruits & veggies, they’ll be much more likely to eat them! Don’t worry if the lunchbox comes home with uneaten fruit/veg – just persevere. You’re aiming to make fruits and veggies normal for your kids, so don’t worry if they don’t automatically gobble them up – especially if they’re not used to them. Take a long term approach – don’t nag your kids (which can be counter-productive), just keep packing fruit & veg and offering gentle encouragement.
Do you have any fun or interesting ways that you get fruit and veg into lunchboxes? Let us know in the comment box below!