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Lunchbox Ideas, Tips and Suggestions

Raw fruit and vegetables are a great to include in lunchboxes, make them easy to eat by cutting them into small pieces, shapes, peeling off the skin etc. and don’t forget to use the food dudes fruit and vegetable containers which are given to children for this purpose!

Children love to dip! Prepare vegetables for example carrots, grapes, cucumber, strawberries, and a healthy dip such as low fat yogurt or sour cream. Use the food dudes containers for the vegetables or a small sealable container for the dip.

 

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Try preparing a healthy trial mix for example, mix nuts, crunchy whole grain cereals, dried fruit such as raisins, apricots and prunes. Mix in a small sealable container; this can also be used as a snack at home for children to nibble on between meals. Encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables as snacks at home as well as at school. Snacks can be healthy and do not have to be ‘junk food’.

smoothie Pre-packed fruit bowls (unsweetened) are not nutritionally inferior as they are packed in their own juices which retain most nutrients and fibre. Children may like these as they are easy to peel, colourful and the fruit is bite sized. You may also try to make your own homemade fruit bowl in a small plastic sealable container with the child’s favourite fruits as a treat. This idea may also be used to introduce new fruits.

Additionally fruits from a can (unsweetened) are good to use if the fruits for example are out of season such as pineapples, peaches, pears, apricot, mango and berries, fruits from a can may be just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. They may be eaten individually or mixed into a fruit salad.
Keep the can in cool storage until ready to use, drain the canned fruit well so that the juice wont leak over other food and place in a small sealable container with a spoon.

Sandwiches don’t have to be boring! They should always have vegetables included such as grated carrot, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, finely chopped red, yellow and green peppers, onions. Choose interesting breads for sandwiches and rolls e.g. pita bread, whole meal bread, bagels, whole grain crackers and rice cakes. smoothie

For the winter months homemade soups could be a great idea in a flask for those cold wet days! Soups packed with vegetables are a healthy option to boost the immune system while also proving a source of heat.

smoothie

Introduce a new fruit or vegetable each week, one at a time and in small measurable amounts and don’t forget that if they don’t like it the first time,  keep presenting it to them as it takes an average of four tastings of a new food in order for a child to develop a liking for it.

Salads are a good way to provide a variety of vegetables, ask your child for his/her favourites and then add something new for variety. Try vegetables for example carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and button mushrooms. Pack salads in a separate container and keep them cold until ready to go to school in order to keep vegetables crisp and tasty at lunchtime.

Fruit smoothies are a good way to provide a variety of fruit for example mix strawberries, mango, small banana and an orange that’s squeezed. Simply put into a blender and mix together to the required solution.

Fresh fruit as well as frozen fruit may be used depending on seasonality.

smoothie

Fruit juice 'drinks': pure fruit juice contains 100 per cent fruit juice as you would expect. However a 'fruit juice drink' can contain as little as 6 per cent juice. Many so-called 'juice drinks' are really only juice-flavoured sugary water and contain more water and sugar than actual fruit juice. They many also include artificial flavourings, sweeteners and colourings. Therefore if you are going to give your child a fruit juice drink, ensure that it contains 100% fruit juice. This may be counted as a portion of fruit.

Set an example by including fruit and vegetables in your own meals, children love to imitate and you as parents act as role models, fruit and vegetable consumption should be encouraged at home as well as at school.

Tips for some individual fruits & vegetables - different ways to provide variety!
apple carrot banana
Apples:
these can be presented whole or cored, cut into quarters, slices or rings, on their own or in a fruit salad. (Lemon juice stops browning).
Grapes:
a perfect fruit for lunch boxes (when in season) pack a bunch into a container or mix into a fruit salad, provide colour and mix red and green.
Bananas:
pack unpeeled, choose bananas that are just ripe, not too soft or green. Look in your supermarket for small lunch box size bananas and also apples.
Celery:
cut into slices, sticks and dip into e.g. yogurt or mix into a salad.
Cucumber:
great for sandwiches and salads. Slice into ribbons (may be more palatable) or cut into slices and add to sandwiches or slice and add to a vegetable salad.
Carrot:
cut into sticks or slice on the angle for salads. Grate carrots, or use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons for sandwiches, pita pockets or rolls. Slice into batons and mix with cucumber sticks for a crunchy finger salad.

 

 

 

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Fruit and vegetables don’t have to be boring and bland, present them in different ways and provide a variety so that your child can discover not only the health benefits of including them within the diet but the fun that can be had in preparing them with your child, get them involved in the process!

 
Lunch of the month!
smoothie
  • Wholemeal bread sandwich filled with ham and cheese, tomato, lettuce and cut into triangles
  • Fruit yogurt
  • Small packet of raisins
  • Milk or fruit juice
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This programme is managed by Bord Bia and receives financial support from the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and the European Union through the School Fruit Scheme.

Bord Bia: Irish Food Board
European Union
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food
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