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Feed them right from the start

Shop right to head back to school!

Posted by Mandy Sacher on January 11, 2019

Posted by Mandy Sacher on January 11, 2019

It’s time to start thinking about back to school (is that a sigh of relief I hear?). But, to make packing those lunches a breeze, it’s time to show you how to meal prep and stock your pantry!

Read up on my top tips to streamlining your supermarket visits and packing your pantry and maybe you won’t dread lunches so much this year.

The weekly shop

Focus on your staples and choose the best quality staples that you can afford.

If your child loves bread, yoghurt, crackers or cheese, focus on buying the most nutritious option. I always stress to families the importance of reading and understanding nutrition labels.

Plan ahead (and get the kids involved)

Planning ahead and creating a list based on a weekly menu planner, ahead of time, will ensure that you have the appropriate ingredients on hand – saving any last minute dashes to the shop or temptations that resort to processed convenience foods.

As a mum-of-two myself, I think the best way to ensure that lunchboxes come home empty is to ask your kids what healthy options they’d like in there and once they’re old enough, get them to prepare their lunchboxes themselves.

Go fresh when possible

I always emphasise the importance of avoiding single serve portions of crackers, biscuits, cheese and yoghurt.

Often packed with preservatives, sugar, salt and added flavourings, kids will choose these brightly packaged, flavourful options over fruit or veg every time. Save money and buy fresh and in bulk. That way there are no hidden nasties in the lunchbox and you can control the portion size.

Stocking the pantry

It’s important to always have fresh fruit and vegetables in the fridge for throwing together healthy lunches for your kids (as well as leftovers). But we all know that keeping a fresh stock of strawberries on hand isn’t always the easiest task.

These are the healthy lunchbox fillers I recommend you keep in the pantry to spare yourself the last minute dash to the shops.

  • Popcorn – easily made at home and allowing control over the amount of salt used. Spices such as paprika, cinnamon or even cayenne pepper if you’ve got a fiery child, allow you to make a new flavour combo each week.
  • Whole grain bread or crackers – these are simple, versatile and easily paired with nutritious nut butters, spreads or fresh contents from the fridge. Mandy’s Flaxseed Crackers are a gluten-free and school-friendly option that’s packed with nutrition and healthy fats.
  • Canned fish in springwater – my favourite options include skipjack tuna and wild salmon. They can be added to a healthy mayonnaise and mixed with pasta for a quick and healthy pasta salad.
  • Homemade muesli bars – simply and inexpensively made at home. Ensure yours are ‘school-friendly’ by replacing the nuts with seeds and dry fruit. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
  • Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds – most schools are nut-free zones, meaning kids often miss out on nutty treats.  I love using seeds as a replacement in the lunchbox. Create an easy trail mix using sunflower and pumpkin seeds and dress it up with sultanas, popcorn and chia seeds. Try my Trail Mix for a flavour combo to suit all taste buds!

  • Canned chickpeas – legumes and beans are a brilliant way to boost protein and count as a veggie serve too.  Offer them as is, or drizzle with olive oil and bake for a roasted crunchy treat.
  • Nori sheets – my kids love munching on plain seaweed or using them to create their own nori wraps. They can be purchased in single serve packs but it’s just as easy to buy the full-sized sheets and cut them into small squares – a far more economical option!
  • Healthy biscuits and cookies – I’m definitely an advocate of balance. So long as they are portion controlled, having a stash of nutritious sweet snacks is often very well received in school lunchboxes!  One of my most popular recipes is my Healthy Gingerbread Men.

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