Thinking of healthy and exciting snacks for their school lunchboxes can sometimes be a challenge, especially when you're trying to avoid feeding them crisps and chocolate every day. Get some inspiration with our round-up of snacks that are not only nutritious, but tasty too – the perfect fuel for their school day.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES:
Fruit and vegetables are essential lunchbox items, although it can sometimes be difficult to encourage fussy eaters to have their five a day. Try chopping up carrot batons or cucumber served with a dip like hummus or cottage cheese for a balanced, filling snack, or make a colourful fruit salad with berries, apples and satsuma segments that is packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
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According to NHS Choices, a healthy school lunchbox should also include a source of protein. Some protein-packed snack ideas include a hard-boiled egg, which they could eat with spinach or cherry tomatoes, or a small piece of cheese. Snack cheeses such as Babybel or Cheesestrings will provide them both with protein and calcium, a vital mineral to support their growth.
Children aged between four and eight need 1000mg of calcium per day, and one portion of a cheese like Babybel would provide them with 18 per cent of their daily requirements. Alternatively you could boost their calcium quota with a small pot of low-fat and lower sugar yoghurt such as Yeo Valley Little Yeos organic yoghurts (RRP: £1.50 for 4) or Greek yoghurt served with berries.
A small pot of sugar-free jelly is ideal for the occasional sweet treat, while malt loaf or fruited teacakes are a healthier alternative to cakes and cereal bars. If your little one loves crisps, trade in store-bought packets for homemade plain popcorn or plain rice cakes, which you could add your own toppings to for variety throughout the school term.
Alternatively you could try making your own sweet potato crisps at home; simply thinly slice a sweet potato and roast in olive oil until crispy. This healthier, homemade crisp is free from salt and a rich source of vitamins A, C and potassium.
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The NHS Choices guidelines for a healthier lunchbox include:
- be based on starchy carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, rice, pasta)
- include fresh fruit and vegetables/salad
- include a source of protein such as beans and pulses, eggs, fish, meat, cheese (or dairy alternative)
- include a side dish such as a low-fat and lower-sugar yoghurt (or dairy alternative), tea cake, fruit bread, plain rice/corn cakes, homemade plain popcorn, sugar-free jelly
- include a drink such as water, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, sugar-free or no-added-sugar drinks
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