What It Really Looks Like Inside An Aussie Kid's School Lunchbox In 2020
There's no doubt lunchboxes have changed in a big way since we were children and are now the cause of much debate.
While it seems it was much easier to sneak a snack into a lunchbox in the 90s, doing the same today might see you 'lunchbox shamed'. But how exactly did we go from packing Roll-Ups and Mamee Noodle snacks to sandwiches cut into perfect dinosaurs and bento boxes full of nude food?
According to nutritionist and parent, Skye Swaney, it mostly comes down to the pressure to send a child to school with the 'perfect' lunchbox that's equal parts healthy, Pinterest-worthy and environmentally friendly.
"Gone are the days when a peanut butter sandwich wrapped in cling wrap and an apple would suffice," Swaney told 10 daily.
"Now there are allergies to consider, school policies, more sophisticated tastes to satisfy and an array of packaged snacks to choose from, some healthy and some not so healthy."
It's all of these combined pressures that the mum said can leave modern parents feeling overwhelmed when it comes to packing a lunchbox, particularly when most are just trying to do their best.
But Swaney noted in 2020, there are some items that generally shouldn't make their way into the lunchbox.
"Allergies can be a particular area of concern because of the severity of some children’s reactions to certain foods such as nuts. Avoiding sending products containing nuts if your child’s school is a nut free school is probably the biggest one," she said.
This may require reading labels carefully as it’s not always obvious that nuts are present in a product and it only takes a very small amount to cause a reaction in some children.
The Whole Kids ambassador said checking if your child's school has lunchbox guidelines at the beginning of the year as well as having a chat to your child's teacher about their expectations helps to ensure you're on the same page.
"Your child’s school may also have rules around foods and drinks high in added sugar and saturated fat such as cakes, biscuits, lollies and soft drinks," Swaney said.
"Regardless of school lunchbox policies, these foods are best left out of the lunchbox and saved for celebrations such as birthdays and holidays."
Here are what some real lunchboxes look like in 2020:
Swaney told 10 daily while there is no 'ideal' ratio for the amount of food you should pack in a lunchbox, ensuring you include a number of key items will satisfy your child's nutritional needs as well as making sure they don't get bored with eating the same thing everyday.
"It's important to teach children to eat according to their appetite, not a predetermined amount of food," she said.
Try to pack an amount that you know will satisfy them without overwhelming them or causing a lot of waste if they’re simply not able to get through it all.
Below are all of the elements that together make a healthy lunchbox in 2020:
1. Wholegrain foods
Wholegrains are an important lunchbox element according to Swaney, who suggested including wholegrain bread or a wrap, pasta, brown rice or quinoa made into a salad.
"These will give your child a steady supply of fuel to get through the day and will allow them to concentrate during class and to run around during playtime," she said.
2. A protein rich food
Protein provides essential nutrients for your child’s growing body and also helps to keep them satisfied while avoiding dips in energy, Swaney noted.
"Try roasted or baked chicken, tuna or boiled eggs for sandwich fillings, hummus as a dip, cheese slices or yoghurt or a slice of frittata or zucchini slice for the more adventurous eater!"
3. Veggies and fruit
Syke said these are important as they are full of vitamins and fibre and that fruit and vegetables should always be part of your child’s lunchbox.
"Make them as easy as possible for your child to eat by peeling them where necessary and cutting them into slices or chunks. Stick to fresh fruit or small packs of fruit in natural juice if you’re out of fresh options," she said.
"Vegetables can often be a tough sell for kids, but many will happily chomp on grated carrot added to a sandwich with hummus or cream cheese, a tub of cherry tomatoes or edamame beans, sugar snap peas or capsicum sticks with dip."
4. A dairy food
Including dairy in the lunchbox is as easy as putting in some cheese or yoghurt tubs or pouches, according to Swaney.
"Kids need a lot of calcium to support their growing bones and dairy foods are an excellent source of calcium. If your child can’t have dairy, choose a calcium-fortified dairy alternative," she said.
5. And of course, some water
We all know how important it is to stay hydrated though out the day, especially in hot weather. And while it may be tempting to include a juice or alternative drink in the lunchbox, Swaney said it's best to just stick with water.
"Water is the best drink and should always be readily available to them," she said.
Featured image: Facebook