According to a Griffith University study, most kids lunch boxes fall well short nutritionally with more than 70% of school lunches containing no vegetables at all. In a world where there is so much conflicting information about the best foods to eat, one thing that ALL health authorities agree upon, is that we need to be eating as many vegetables as possible.
So today I thought I’d share some tips and recipes to help you get more vegetables into your kids school lunch and gobbled-up!
Communication is the key
The most important tip I have for you is to make sure you communicate with your kids to find out how they would like have vegetables included in their lunchbox. Throwing a few veggies in their lunchbox and crossing your fingers is asking for wastage and can also build resentment. When working with families of food fussy kids I’ve found that a little communication and choice goes a long way to improving their kids eating habits. Explain to your kids that vegetables will help them be faster/ smarter/ have clearer skin/ be better at their chosen sport or whatever appeals to them the most. Don’t tell them they need to eat them because they are ‘healthy’ or ‘good for them’ – most kids couldn’t care less! Get them to choose two vegetables each day to eat at lunchtime.
Packing cooked vegetables
If your kids like their vegetables cooked, then that’s how they should be packed. Leftovers from dinner are the easiest inclusions (roasted, baked or steamed vegetables). Remember to add dressings or dips to make them as enticing as possible. There is a significant taste difference between a piece of plain, cold steamed broccoli and the same, but well seasoned and dressed in lemon juice and olive oil for example.
Packing raw vegetables
Raw vegetables are easy to prep and pack in the morning. Check in with your kids how they like them cut – when my kids have wobbly teeth they prefer their carrots cut into bite sized pieces (rather than sticks). Again, add in a dip if this will help them over the line.
Getting them involved
Kids of any age can pack their own lunch and when they do, they are way more likely to eat it. For little kids, peel and cut the vegetables thy have chosen to eat and then get them to place them into their lunchbox. Older kids can do it all by themselves.
I’ve already covered the advantages and disadvantages of hiding vegetables in this post here. Try to include as many whole vegetables as possible, but also disguise them in tasty meals and treats for an extra boost.
Lunch Box friendly recipes that feature vegetables
- Rice Paper Rolls – anything can be wrapped in these, anything at all. This post runs you through how to roll them as well as ideas for what to fill them with.
- Zucchini, Mint and Haloumi Fritters are delicious as a side for dinner and leftovers are so good for lunch the next day.
- Dips are a great way to include veggies – my extra healthy versions of Basil Pesto and Coriander and Lime Pesto are delicious and super nourishing.
- My Quinoa Patties are a delicious way to sneak in extra leafy greens.
- I love these Chicken Nuggets with hidden veggies from Sistermixin’.
- How about these Broccoli and Cheese Mini-muffins from Kidgredients.
- A fantastic way to include veggies is this Avocado Brown Rice Sushi from Stacey Clare.
- My Probiotic Carrot Sticks are not only a fabulous source of vitamins and minerals but a great way to support digestion. My kids make these themselves (video at the bottom of the recipe) and they are a real favourite in our house.
- Sweet treats are also great for boosting your kids vegetable intake. My legendary Brownies and Carrot Cake Slice both contain a serve of vegetables.
- These Healthy Spiced Pumpkin Muffins from the Paleo Power Couple are also good for breakfast or the lunchbox (sans the walnuts for nut-free).
- The Root Cause have a fabulous Tuna Patty with a veggie boost that’s definitely worth a try.
- Pack in some veggies with Brenda Janschek’s yummy Quesadillas.
Needing more lunchbox inspo?
I’m so passionate about ensuring kids eat plenty of vegetables throughout the day, I have a whole section about how to include them in my bible of all things lunchbox ‘The Well Nourished Lunchbox’ ebook. Find out more or shop for it HERE.
For more info on ‘treats’ and how to best manage the oversupply – this post is useful (especially the part about implementing ‘treat days’), click HERE.
For more about the pressure to give your kids junk food and how to handle the well meaning shop keepers, friends, grand parents etc; who insist on giving your kids lollies, click HERE.
So that’s all I have to say on this. I’d love your input though. How do you handle celebrations and junk food free-for-alls? Post a comment below so we can support one another to raise kids who have a healthy relationship with food.
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