By Mikala Atkinson, Nutritionist for Crunch&Sip
While many parents are juggling working from home and supervising their children, making it easy for the family to grab healthy food at break times has never been more important.
We may not be packing the school bag and sending our children off to school for the day, however keeping up the habit of preparing a lunchbox each morning might just be the secret to ensuring those healthy school habits keep going at home. It will also help your day run a little more smoothly as you juggle conference calls and hungry hordes!
Here are our top tips to get you through this time of lunching and learning from home.
As our options to outsource lunch have become limited with the current social distancing laws - the idea of buying a healthy lunch from the school canteen or grabbing a roll from your local café is off the table for now. With a little bit of planning, it can be just as easy for the family to grab a healthy lunch on the go. This could include chopping some extra vegies the night before, making a batch of fresh dip, packing leftovers ready for lunch the next day or prepping the sandwiches for everyone before the start of the work day.
Keep it real
To help reduce the spread of coronavirus most of us are choosing to shop less frequently, this means stocking the pantry with long-life foods to get us through. Just remember there are lots of healthy foods that come from tins and jars such as baked beans, tuna and pickled vegies as well great frozen options like peas or beans to throw in fried rice or berries to whizz up an afternoon smoothie. Having these options on hand will mean we can keep eating ‘real food’ even when our supplies of fresh produce are running low.
Bulk up the healthy snacks
With no sports practice or birthday parties to attend, children are looking for activities to fill their days. Why not get them into the kitchen and cooking some healthy snacks that the family can munch on through the working week? Upper primary school kids can easily follow a simple recipe and cook some afternoon tea. Double the recipe and they can also stock the freezer with a batch of healthy muffins, some pikelets or a yummy vegie frittata. Don’t forget if they are old enough to help with the cooking, they are also old enough to help with the cleaning up!
Keep the water flowing
As well as keeping up the healthy meals and snacks, don’t forget to keep the water flowing too. Water is important for improving concentration levels and helps to regulate our appetite. Drinking water throughout the day also keeps us well hydrated, which helps soothe dry eyes that are staring at the computer screen. Start the day by filling up the water bottle and encourage kids to aim for a refill around lunchtime. Having a water bottle nearby also reminds us to keep drinking regularly. You could even keep a hydration chart to track the amount of water consumed across the day, and also doubles as a great math exercise.
Step away from the desk
When you can, try and stop for a lunch break together as a family and sit outside in the fresh air. Eating in front of a screen can make it difficult to listen to our appetite, which can lead to eating too much or too little. Kids are also used to having a very social lunch break surrounded by their friends! Having a chance to play is important for burning restless energy, which helps recharge the batteries and makes it easier to focus when back at the desk.
Remember that each day children need:
Something for lunch (main meal)
Something for recess (mini meal)
Something to munch (fruit or vegetables)
Water to drink
Pack foods such as wholegrains, vegetables, lean meats and reduced-fat dairy as well as fruits and a water bottle. Remember if it's all healthy food then it doesn't matter which foods your child grabs first or how they make their way through the lunchbox, anything they reach for will give them the energy they need to get through the day.