‘safefood’ offering lunchbox lessons as NI pupils head back to school
With the start of term quickly approaching for many pupils in Northern Ireland, safefood, is promoting knowledge of food safety and nutrition.
It has released some top tips for creating healthy and enjoyable lunchboxes during this school year.
“Well-balanced school lunches can have a positive impact on children’s concentration and learning”, said Joana da Silva, safefood’s, Chief Specialist in Nutrition.
“When it comes to filling lunchboxes there are a few key practices everyone can follow”, she said.
Here are safefood’s top five tips this term-time:
- Include all the food groups – Aim to incorporate a wide variety of foods from each food group. Ensure your child’s lunch consists of fruits and vegetables, foods like bread, pasta, and rice, proteins such as meat, beans, pulses, fish, and eggs, and dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese. This diversity promotes a balanced diet and establishes healthy eating habits for life.
- Vary the kinds of bread – Try experimenting with different types of bread. Instead of using plain sliced bread every day, introduce brown bread, pittas, bagels, or wraps for added variety. Keeping a stock of different bread options in the freezer helps reduce food waste.
- Stay hydrated – Keeping hydrated throughout the day is great for your child’s well-being. Given this, they should aim to drink between six and eight glasses a day. Milk and plain water are the best drink options. Getting children to drink water can be challenging so infusing it with slices of fruits like lemon, cucumber, or berries for a burst of flavour can often help. Consider using brightly coloured bottles or fun containers to make plain water more appealing and interesting.
- Get them involved – Involve your child in selecting and preparing their own lunches. This is an excellent opportunity for them to learn about healthy eating and develop good habits. If your child is starting school this year, practicing opening and closing their lunchbox in advance can save time and ensure they’re independent during lunch breaks. No doubt their teacher will appreciate it too!
- Try out new ideas – Introducing new foods to children can be tricky. It often takes several attempts for them to accept unfamiliar items as part of their regular diet. To ease this, try to, experiment with new meal ideas during dinner time or weekends before including them in the lunchbox.
Some top food safety tips to also keep in mind when putting lunchboxes together:
- Consider using insulated lunchboxes or bags to keep items cool until lunchtime, especially if including foods like yogurts or milk.
- Remind your child to store their lunch away from radiators or direct sunlight to maintain freshness.
- Wash and dry reusable water bottles, lids, and lunchboxes with warm soapy water each day to keep them clean.
For further inspiration and meal planning, including a five-day lunchbox planner and tips on encouraging your children to embrace new foods, visit www.safefood.net