What to Pack in Your Child's Lunchbox? What Ideal Lunch Box Should Have in It?
Created by Puja Sharma Vasisht Updated on Sep 04, 2021
Every morning, most mothers are battling with the same dilemma: what to pack in our child’s lunchbox. “It should be tasty, wholesome and nutritious and my daughter should finish it too” is the main concern behind this dilemma. We all want this, but this doesn’t happen all the time. So, here are some ideas on how to roll out a healthy, yet tasty tiffin for your child.
Nutrients first: What a ideal lunchbox should have in it
The lunch box for the school should contribute to the child’s daily nutrient requirement. We need to pack in carbohydrates for energy, proteins for growth and development, vitamins and minerals to regulate body functions and boost immunity. But, how do we get all of these together? By simply making the right choices from each of the nutrients and food groups.
Foods to Choose:
Carbohydrates: Cereals are a popular choice for the required dose of carbohydrates. You can go in for a chapatti or parantha, whole wheat bread/buns, poha, suji or bajra preparations for energy and concentration in the school.
Proteins: Some of the best known sources of proteins are eggs, dals, beans, besan, nutri-nuggets, cheese, paneer, and chicken.
Minerals and Vitamins: Fruits and vegetables are powerhouses of essential minerals and vitamins that help fight off any infection and illnesses.
To get the ideal mix of all this, think of a mix-and-match combinations where you can weave in all these foods into a simple dish.
What to Pack in Tiffin: Weekly Schedule
Now that we know what all to select from to make the lunchbox healthy, here are a few suggestions for the entire week. Each of these combinations and recipes will get you the right mix of the required nutrients--the carbs, proteins, and vitamins and minerals.
Monday: Oats, orange and raisin muffin + cucumber, paneer salad: Pick for a Monday morning. The muffins can be made and kept ready over the weekend. Crumble the paneer over dices of cucumber.
Tuesday: Vegetable besan chilla + fruit salad: You will be giving your child the best of all the worlds with this. Add grated vegetables to the chilla batter. You can also supplement it with a fresh mint coriander chutney.
Wednesday: Sprouts in vegetable pasta + apple: A pasta in the middle of the week, will keep the child's interest levels maintained. Mix up a variety of legumes to sprout and steam them slightly tender. A tadka of jeera and hing makes the taste simply amazing.
Thursday: Beetroot roll with corn and paneer filling + grapes: Knead boiled, blended beetroot into atta and make a parantha of it. Cook the filling with flavours of your choice. Roll up and pack. USP: attractive colour and easy to manage for the child.
Friday: Spinach and boiled black chana cutlets + orange: End the week on a exciting note with this recipe. You can prep this the night before and in the morning just shallow fry the cutlets in a non-stick pan.
If you are wondering why is Saturday and Sunday there for lunch box, we are suggesting it to keep the routine and eating pattern of the child, the same.
Saturday: Tri-coloured idlis+ banana: When making the batter, divide it into 3 portions and add beetroot juice to one, spinach juice to one, and keep one white. And you have your tri-coloured idlis ready.
Sunday: Egg and vegetable sandwich+ watermelon: Another ideal for a lazy Sunday when the mother needs a break too from all the cooking.
Some other ideas can be vegetable pulao with a pomegranate hung curd raita, a cheese tomato carrot sandwich with kiwi fruit, and a fruit-filled pancake. You may add more fun to these recipes by asking your child to choose the vegetable and fruit of the day.
How to Get the Child to Eat
We see a food first before we eat it. So a colorful and attractive meal would appeal to the child instantly and the chances of acceptance are more. Try adding colours to your child’s lunchbox from the following spectrum:
Yellow of corn, mango, yellow capsicum
Orange of papaya, carrot, oranges
Red of tomato, strawberries, cherries
Purple of brinjal, grapes, jamun,
Green of leafy vegetables, kiwi, grapes
White of mushroom, onion, cauliflower, rice
Brown of cereals, breads & buns.
When preparing the lunchbox, ensure the items you keep in it are
1) Different colours: If you have keep a brown parantha, perk it up with a bright green grapes' a white sandwich can have a red fruit to complement it. Adding different colours to the lunchbox not only makes it attractive but also adds a variety of nutrients and antioxidants which are essential for the good health of our child.
2) Use different shapes: Why should a parantha go round always? Cut it into triangles for variety. An apple can be given interesting shapes using cookie cutters. Experimentation is the key.
3) Be realistic with the quantities: Or you will set yourself up for disappointment. Children have limited time to finish a meal.
4) Pack food for convenience: Choose recipes which are non-messy to eat and can be easily managed by the child. Chances of your child finishing the tiffin are higher.
5) Don't forget the little touches: Tissue napkins, cutlery, a sweet surprise once in a while, will all make eating tiffin a more wholesome activity for your child.
6) Cook fresh: Avoid falling for the trap of using market bought cookies, cakes or packaged food. Cook fresh for your child even if it means simple things.
7) Plan in advance: Make a meal planner for the entire week and put it on the fridge. You will have a ready reckoner with you the next morning.
| Dec 14, 2015
Planing always helps, also eliminates the last moment stress. @ Meenu Vemuri : I feel you have to keep trying till your kid loves some part of it, may be if not the color the nutrient and taste will attract her. Also, you can take hints of what she would like to have packed for her lunch.