Let’s face it, school dinners have changed enormously over the last 10 years and are virtually unrecognisable compared to the sorts of lunches my husband and I ate as children. But fancy school lunches aren’t going anywhere so we may as well embrace it, so crack out your star shaped cookie cutters, quail eggs, kale and quinoa!
Obviously, children need plenty of starchy foods to fill them up and give them energy. Nutritious meals packed with fibre, protein, carbohydrate and vitamins will also help your child’s growing bones and give them a healthy dose of brain power for the afternoon ahead.
Sandwiches, Wraps & Pitta Breads
- Homemade bread – vary between wholemeal, granary, multi-grain and white
- Crepe/pancake, potato cake, malt loaf, hot cross bun, scone
- Wrap, Naan or Pitta bread
Fillings & toppings
- Meat – wafer thin cooked meats, cubed chicken/turkey breast with tomato and lettuce, ham and cheese, roast chicken & hummus, leftover cold meats (chicken, turkey, meatloaf, sausages etc) with salad, chicken and mashed avocado, cold BLT. Bacon and brie is one of my son’s favourites!
- Fish – tuna mayo & sweetcorn, tuna salad, sardine and tomato, fish paste and cucumber.
- Veggie – grated cheese, cheese spread, cream cheese, Quorn slices and salad, cottage cheese with pineapple, cheese and grated carrot with a little mayo, veggie sausages, vegetarian pate with cucumber, cheese and coleslaw, egg salad/egg mayo, cheese and pickle, Marmite.
Fruit & Veg options
- Any combination of the following, in a small pot or bag: raisins, sultanas, pumpkin/sunflower seeds, ready to eat dried apricots, dates or prunes.
- Whole fruits – satsuma, apple, banana, pear, peach, plum, grapes, strawberries (whatever is in season)
- Fruit salad pot – any combination of prepared fruit: strawberries, orange, melon, mango, pineapple, kiwi etc.
- Homemade fruit puree, smoothie or apple sauce (you can add strawberry, peach, etc)
- Fruit jelly made with fruit pieces and pure fruit juice.
- Tinned fruit pot (useful in the winter if you can’t find ripe fresh fruit) – mandarins, pineapple, peaches, fruit salad, pears.
- Salad pot – any combination of prepared raw vegetables: cucumber, lettuce, pepper, celery, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, mangetout, slices of avocado sprinkled with a little lemon juice etc. or coleslaw.
- Hard boiled chicken’s or quail’s eggs, scotch egg, mini sausages, sausage roll, falafel etc
- Small bag of crisps, or a handful of crisps in a pot. Crackers, crisp bread, rice cakes, cheesy biscuits, bread sticks, unsalted popcorn.
- Sweet Muffin, cup cake, small piece of cake, cookie, flapjack, cereal bar.
Steer clear of sugary and no added sugar drinks:
- Milk (whole, semi-skimmed, goats or soya)
- Pure fruit juice (diluted) or smoothie.
I wish more parents were told about this but products stating ‘no added sugar’ normally use chemical sweeteners, some of which are being investigated for safety, so please avoid giving them to your young children.