Easy Healthy Lunch Ideas Nz

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Still looking for easy healthy lunch ideas nz? Whether you are following a calorie restricted diet or simply want to add more healthy ingredients to your diet, eating healthy can be hard. Cooking healthy is key so you don’t feel like you are doing without. We’ve put together a bunch of healthy recipes that anyone can prepare for everyday meals!

Easy Healthy Lunch Ideas Nz

Finding ideas to make healthy lunch boxes can be tough, read on to find out great ways to make healthy lunches for your children.

The kids are back at school and once again, it’s time to think about their lunches. The daily task of lunch box preparation can be hard work. For many parents (especially those with fussy children), finding nutritious foods that are acceptable to young ones can feel like a science experiment.

With Term Four now underway, we offer tips to make school lunches healthy and exciting for your children, and easier for you.

A little planning goes a long way.
Taking time to organize your fridge and pantry will speed up the morning lunch routine. Organise what you can the night before whether this be pre-making sandwiches, hard boiling eggs or chopping fruit or vegetables. Have the lunch boxes on the benchtop ready to go for the morning.

Healthy eating often sounds more complicated than it needs to be.
At the Heart Foundation we promote healthy eating because it leads to healthy bodies and healthy hearts. Getting a good start in life is important and children need to be eating well to maximise their health and capacity for learning.

Keeping children interested in their lunch is important.
By changing what you give them it ensures they get a healthy variety and the opportunity to try different foods. Research shows that it can take up to 10 attempts for a child to accept a new food, so don’t be discouraged if it is sent home in the lunch box a few times.

Healthy Lunch Box Suggestions.
Take a look at the Heart Foundation recipe collection for easy, kid-friendly lunch ideas. Here’s a few to get you started:

  • Scroggin (e.g. almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds with a few dried apricots or raisins,)
  • Tick approved yoghurt
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Sushi
  • Vege pieces (e.g. carrots, broccoli, cucumber) with yummy dips (e.g. hummus or tzatziki), corn on the cob, cherry tomatoes
  • Frozen fruit pieces (healthy and help to keep the lunch box cool)
  • Fruit kebabs
  • Leftovers (e.g. spaghetti bolognaise, baked beans with grated edam cheese or potato salad)
  • Plain popcorn

But what about really fussy children?
How do you get them interested in a healthy lunch? One way is to encourage them to start growing their own. Growing vegetables in a garden outside or planting sprouts and herbs in pots on the windowsill, can be a great learning experience. And children often love to eat their own produce.

Involving children in lunch box preparation is another easy and fun way to teach them about nutrition and get them interested in their lunch. Browse recipes and plan a weekly meal plan together. Spread out healthy ingredients on the kitchen bench or table and let the kids make their own sandwiches and snacks. Be a role model and prepare your lunch at the same time.

Explaining why eating lunch is important can also help motivate your child to eat their lunch. Stay away from discussions about good and bad foods and instead keep messages positive.

Reasons why eating lunch is important:

  • More energy for play time
  • Fuel for sport
  • Easier to concentrate in class
  • Important for growing properly
  • Important for strong bones and muscles

Water is the best drink for children.
Sugar sweetened beverages like fizzy drink and juice contain a lot of energy (calories) without satisfying hunger. Encourage the use of school drinking fountains, particularly as warmer weather approaches. Plenty of water throughout the day will help children concentrate and maintain energy levels.

By following these tips and providing a delicious healthy lunch box and water bottle you are setting your child up for a much brighter day at school.

Creating healthy lunches

Lunch can sometimes be a challenge. It’s the one meal of the day where most people are out of the house, and with friends and family to catch up with, deadlines to reach and appointments to keep, it can be a minefield of in-the-moment food choices made under the pressure and time constraints of a short lunch break. Then add in the temptation of lunchtime offers at cafes, food courts and fast-food shops and it can seem incredibly tempting to eat whatever takes your fancy now and get back on track, later. Spending just a few minutes each evening planning what you’ll have for lunch the next day could help you continue to make healthy choices, no matter where you find yourself when lunchtime rolls around.

What makes a good lunch?

When you’re halfway through the day you need a tasty meal that will satisfy your hunger and keep you going through to dinner time. Try to include one serve of cooked grains, bread or starchy vegetables, one serve of protein and two serves of cooked vegetables, salad or legumes.

Eat more vegetables at lunch

(and throughout the day)

Why? They are nature’s vitamin pills – jam-packed with nutrients, antioxidants and filling fibre. That’s why most of them are ZeroPoint™ foods. The trick is to eat a rainbow of colours to get the widest range of nutrients throughout your day. Packed with nutrients veggies are an important food group. But if you’ve always struggled with eating vegetables, maybe you just haven’t been cooking them right. Steaming is a quick way to cook your veggies and it also retains the most nutrients.

Here’s how to steam vegetables

1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil.

2. Cut vegetables into similar-sized pieces and place in a steamer basket.

3. Place the steamer basket over the saucepan of boiling water (ensuring the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the basket). Steam, covered, for the times given below.

Vegetable

Steam for

Asparagus

3–5 mins

Beetroot (whole)

30–60 mins

Bok choy stems

3–5 mins (add leaves after 2–3 mins)

Broccoli or cauliflower florets

5–6 mins

Brussels sprouts (halved)

6–8 mins

Cabbage (wedges)

6–8 mins

Carrots (thickly sliced)

7–10 mins

Corn cob

5–8 mins

Green beans
(whole)

3–5 mins

Potatoes, regular and sweet (halved)

15–25 mins

Snow or sugar snap peas (whole)

2–4 mins

Spinach leaves

1–2 mins

Zucchini (thickly sliced)

3–5 mins

The healthy lunchbox

Lets think about filling our lunchbox in terms of the four food groups:

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Vegetable sticks – carrot, cucumber and celery with an optional dip such as cottage cheese, hummus, pesto, Greek yoghurt, tzatziki or *peanut butter.
  • Small (cherry) or chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh fruit – chopping bigger fruit  beforehand will make it easier to eat – a variety throughout the week maintains interest and ensures a variety of nutrients
  • Fruit pottles
  • Mini salads – coleslaw or a lettuce salad with tomato, grated carrot and cucumber
  • Small packet or handful of raisins or dried fruit

Grain foods (bread, rice, pasta, breakfast cereals)

  • Sandwiches – see below for filling and presentation ideas
  • Cereal bars
  • Plain biscuits
  • Plain popcorn
  • Rice crackers
  • Potato or pasta salad
  • Potato cakes
  • Left over pasta and rice dishes

Milk and milk products (milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream)

  • Pottle of yoghurt or yoghurt squeezables
  • Plain or flavoured milk
  • Cubes or slices of cheese
  • Cottage cheese – add to sandwiches or use as a dip for vegetable sticks

Lean meat and alternatives (lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts & seeds, beans and lentils)

  • Meat or chicken sandwiches
  • Egg or tuna sandwiches
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Hummus – Add some to sandwiches or put a couple of tablespoons in a container to go alongside vegetable sticks
  • *Peanut butter – add to sandwiches or use as a dip for vegetable sticks
  • *A small handful of nuts and seeds

*Note: It may be wise to check your school’s policy on nuts as some schools can be ‘peanut free’

Tips on sandwiches

Try cutting sandwiches into shapes such as fingers or squares, and use various types of breads, rolls, wraps or pita pockets for sandwiches to add variety to lunches. Use wholemeal or wholegrain varieties where possible.
Sandwiches don’t have to be flash – they can be filled simply with a couple of slices of cheese, some vegemite or marmite, jam or *peanut butter. However, if you have other foods to hand, include some lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber, avocado, grated carrot, thinly sliced capsicum, tinned corn kernels or bean sprouts to make the sandwich more nutritious.

  • Tuna sandwich
    Mix canned tuna with low fat mayonnaise along with a pinch pepper and a splash of lemon juice and spread onto bread. Refrigerate any left over tuna mix for the following day.
  • Salad sandwich
    Spread either some hummus or relish onto the bread. Top with grated cheese and available salad ingredients.
  • Egg sandwich
    Mash two hard-boiled eggs with low fat mayonnaise and chopped parsley.
  • Leftovers sandwich
    Use leftover lamb, beef, fish, chicken, or corned beef along with some relish or sauce for an economical and tasty sandwich

Drinks

Water and milk are the best drinks for children. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of juice to their water bottle for a little extra flavour if needed. Read more about fluids on our fact page.

Keeping food safe

  • Freeze a small container of water to put in alongside lunch as this will keep food cold and provide a cold lunchtime drink.
  • Clean containers thoroughly after use with hot water and detergent.
  • Throw out leftover food not eaten during the day.

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