Planning packed lunches and snacks to eat away from home is a great way of choosing a variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups and limiting discretionary foods and extra kilojoules when aiming to lose weight.
Foods and drinks for packing needed to be ‘ready to eat’, to travel well and to be kept safe from bacterial contamination.
Traditional foods like sandwiches and fruit are still a great foundation. There is now a wide range of breads, spreads and fillings available to keep things interesting and more fruit than ever to pick from.
Not all convenience and packaged foods are discretionary foods. Small, individual packs of fruit in juice, low fat yoghurts and custards, low fat cheese slices, unsalted nuts (for older children and adults) and small cans of no added salt baked beans, corn and bean mix can be useful for adding variety and usually have a longer shelf life. Avoid dried fruit that can stick to teeth and cause decay and are high in kilojoules if you are trying to lose weight.
Cooking extra serves of ‘finger foods’ like corn cobs, boiled eggs, chicken drumsticks, meatballs, pikelets, boiled potatoes at meals can be great for lunchboxes too.
A treat in a lunch box doesn’t need to be high in fat, added sugars or added salt. A note of affection, a joke, a sticker, hot cross bun or a few small pieces of special fruit can have the same wow factor.
Preparing lunchboxes the night before saves valuable time and energy.
Freezing a small plastic bottle of water keeps the food cold, fresh and safe and provides a cool refreshing and healthy drink. Avoid fruit juice and sweetened drinks that can contribute to tooth decay and weight gain.