12:03 29 August 2006
A lunchbox bursting with healthy goodies is an excellent alternative if your children aren't able to wolf down one of Jamie Oliver's nutritious school dinners.
Ensuring your kids eat a balanced diet is every parent's responsibility, so don't give in when they nag for foods that aren't good for them.
Instead, ask them to jot down a list of the favourite healthy foods and praise them if they make wise choices.
Top tips for your children's lunchboxes this term.
1. Start with starchy basics: bread, pitta bread, a wholemeal muffin, pasta or rice (servings should be the size of your child's palm).
2. Cut down on the amount of butter or margarine you use, and try to avoid mayonnaise. Some fillings such as egg mayo, do not need butter as well.
3. Rotate protein-based fillings: lean red meat (80 100g), dark poultry meat, oily fish and peanut butter (2tsp) are good for iron. This is crucial for over-11s, for whom iron and calcium demand increases dramatically.
4. Don't feel limited to sandwiches. A good alternative is a pasta salad, to which you can add canned beans and a low-fat dressing. For older children, include a small flask of soup which is even better if it is home made!
5. Add vegetables tomato or cucumber in a sandwich or pepper and sweetcorn in a pasta salad. Or add raw vegetables on the side.
6. Add a piece of fruit each day and vary throughout the week to provide a mixture of vitamins and fibre.
7. Pop in a low-fat yoghurt, fromage frais, rice pudding or milkshake. Children need calcium-rich food each day.
8. Add a treat: a packet of low-fat crisps, plain popcorn or a biscuit.
9. Don't forget a drink: water, fruit juice or a sugar-free squash.
10. For portion size, be guided by your child's appetite. Add an extra slice of bread, for teenage boys and sporty teenage girls.
11. Use a cool bag, pop in an ice-pack or freeze a carton of juice to put in with the packed lunch to keep it cool.
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