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LUNCH BOX SWAP | Replace less healthy foods with better-for-you choices

LUNCH BOX SWAP (click for pdf of below table) Let's face it - we all have a pretty good idea of what we should put in our kids lunch boxes but to be honest we are up against all sorts of pressures. The pressure of: 1) Will the food be eaten? 2) Will your child feel like the odd-one-out because no one else has what he is eating? 3) Do you have time to prep a 'scratch' box, make or bake? 4) Can you or do you cook (much)? 5) Having the ingredients on hand & /or providing variety. (of taste, texture, foods, nutrients) 6) Less than desirable ingredient statement or nutritional panel on convenience goods. (colours, flavours, preservatives, unhealthy fats, processed sugars & refined flours, etc) 7) Knowing how to pull together a well balanced box. Can you find a good source of protein or do the carbs provide sustained energy? All these things run thru my head as I tackle the "box" so I have pulled a list together of foods that I avoid and/or use less frequently. I am not perfect, I also try not get too hung up as I know breakfast & dinner will be wholesome meals. There is no point in stressing. I talk about what's 'fake food' with my kids and what good food does for them but that is another conversation! So if you need ideas on how to substitute unreal food for real food then take a look at this list of ideas print it out and pop on the fridge. I hope it helps. Cindy :)

DISLIKE / AVOID FREQUENTLY

LIKE / PREFER

Pre-packed packaged foods – creates rubbish in playground + creates undesirable long term eating habits as kids become conditioned to †˜packages’ and TV characters. Eg Chips, yoghurts, cheese sticks. Buy bulk and re-pack into little tubs with lids. You can control portion size and keep ingredients real. Eg natural yoghurt with fruit v’s sweetened and coloured †˜Dora Explora’ yoghurt.
Processed Cheese or cheese in plastic. Slice or grate different cheeses. Let the cheese †˜breathe’ and allow your kids to taste variety. Eg cheddar, fetta, triple cream.
Sweetened yoghurts – tubs, tubes etc Natural organic yoghurt from a big tub, sweeten it with chopped fruit, honey or frozen berries.
Sandwich meats with nitrates such ham, salami, Mortadella It’s hard not to use these – so do so only once or twice a week. Try and use cold leftovers (eg chick wings, sliced beef or lamb).
Canned tuna or salmon in oil blend (hidden canola oil) Canned tuna or salmon in spring water or 100% olive oil. Look for No †˜added flavours’.
Smoked Salmon – if it’s farmed remember it could be fed with a meal containing artificial colour, antibiotics, soy derivatives etc. Wild salmon but price is often prohibitive. There are some better for you brands of farmed salmon such as NZ King Salmon.
Rice crackers Look for organic rice or the more nutrient dense whole grain or seed variations, keep an eye out for low salt, no numbers as MSG/621 + †˜powdered flavours can sneak in.
Rice / corn wheels with flavor coatings As above – so look for organic w/m corn or rice cakes without †˜flavour powders’
Certain crackers most contain moderate levels of trans, saturated animal fats or undesirable polyunsaturated oils (eg safflower or rape/canola oils) are used as they are cheaper, make them extra crisp and don’t go off. Check salt and preservatives. Wholemeal or seeded crackers using healthy fats.[make your own – there are no knead recipes that go thru the pasta machine}
Processed packaged sweet biscuits including chocolate biscuits, Oreos etc. May contain unhealthy fats, colours, preservatives, are high in sugar, highly refined. Really try to avoid. If you can’t – just a small serve (eg tiny teddy – say 3-5) or butter shortbread, digestive style occasionally.
Muesli Bars –the style of these chewy bars means high sugar, sugar syrups (invert or glucose), humectants, emulsifiers and preservatives. Most have nuts. Eat occasionally as a †˜fall back’ when out or about rather than a regular lunch box addition. Go for better brands such as †œBe Natural†. Best to DYI as they are easy to make…tho still high in sugar.
White or processed bread such as wonder white. Wholemeal/grain, high fibre, no numbers, added seeds, organic, light sour dough.
White wraps – watch for preservatives Wholemeal, gluten free or organic options
Popcorn – sweetened or highly salted or ready to microwave in toxic plastic packs. DYI in a pan or popcorn maker – salt slightly with sea salt. Ensure GMO free. Buy organic. Sometime food only as filler / little nutrition.
Chips – such a hard one as everyone loves the texture and salt. Be well aware of extra high KJ/calorie count, high salt levels, unhealthy oils and artificial flavor additions. Find a more wholesome brand (ie skin on, cooked in healthy fats, low salt, no other additions) and control serve size. Ie 10-12 chips max. Treat as a sometimes food.
Drinks: Juices (inc poppas), fizzy drinks, cordials Water Freeze it in summer to keep cool.

Rule of thumb. Keep food REAL

Minimal or unprocessed, with less packaging and less commercial advertising.

Image source: www.kidspot.com.au
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