food and drink 13.11.2017 10:46 am

Healthy lunchbox ideas for toddlers

Picture: iStock

Picture: iStock

Good, healthy, fresh and seasonal food, clean tap water, exercise, sunshine and lots of laughter will be a good start in helping your toddler get the best out of life.

Remember that toddlers like to nibble on small quantities of food, so try to avoid overwhelming their senses with a tightly packed lunchbox containing giant portions! Try to add variety, and to avoid wastage, take into account cake and candy days at school.

Invest in a variety of small plastic containers and make the effort to prepare little tubs of various finger food the night before. Some children like to have their various food groups separated, and won’t touch a foodstuff if it has been “tainted” by something else in the lunchbox.

Most toddlers balk at the sight of a whole fruit in their lunchbox, but will eat it if is cut up into little pieces.

In summer, freeze water or diluted 100% pure fruit juice in a plastic bottle the night before, so that by the time your little one drinks it the following day, it is still cold and refreshing.

Try including a variety of the following in your toddler’s lunchbox:

  • Small fingers of raw vegetables such as broccoli, sugar snap peas, baby marrow, cucumber, and carrot
  • Chopped up seasonal raw fruit, or a small bunch of grapes
  • Cooked corn on the cob
  • Boiled egg
  • Chopped up cooked, leftover roast meat, schnitzel, sausages, lean bacon or chicken
  • A few pieces of cold roast or baked potato.
  • A small tub of cooked pasta with a drizzle of salad dressing
  • Chopped biltong
  • Wholewheat, rice or rye crackers
  • Peanut butter (or any other filling except jam) sandwiches cut into small squares or triangles
  • Grated or sliced mozzarella cheese
  • Full cream, uncoloured cheese wedges
  • Cashew nuts, sunflower seeds and raisins
  • Sugar and preservative-free fruit bar
  • Small yoghurt

Every now and then “treats”:

  • Small, bite-sized chocolate bar
  • Handful of crisps or popcorn
  • Two jelly babies, or marshmallows

Things to avoid at all costs:

  • Foodstuffs that your child is allergic to
  • Stimulants (food or drinks that may contain caffeine or sugar)
  • Food additives, preservatives and colourants such as MSG, tartrazine, sodium benzoate and sulphates

Three main meals and three significant snacks are important in every child’s day (quantity may vary from child to child, so don’t panic if your child is a small eater). This provides regular fuel for their metabolism and prevents low blood sugar and unhealthy snacking.

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