By Daniela Sperotto

With the increased debate on healthy school lunches and eating a balanced meal at all times, preparing a lunch for you and your family can become quite a challenge day after day.

Children who do not eat healthily or do not have lunch, lack concentration and often struggle with issues such as ADD or ADHD”, explains La-Rentia Marx, registered dietician. With a few preparation and packing tips, lunch can be less of a chore and more fun for you and your children.

Making sure you have the basic ingredients: snacks, bread, cold meats and so on handy for the whole week. This will reduce the temptation to pack unhealthy foods. Planning also enables you to add the five basic food groups: starch, fruit and vegetables, protein, milk and fat.

The lunchbox

Make sure the luchbox is big enough to store all the food, either one with separate compartments or a cooler bag big enough to fit different containers in it. Because the food needs to be stored for a few hours in the day, to keep everything fresh store the lunchbox overnight in the fridge.

The Sandwich

The sandwich has evolved from the humble peanut butter and jam to a gourmet extravaganza. That said, keep it simple. “If you are eating sandwiches, always add as many vegetables as possible, and interesting combinations – chicken and kiwi fruit are delicious together,” suggests Sasha Zambetti, editor of Avocado Magazine. Try to avoid soft vegetables like tomatoes which will just make the bread soggy.

Variety, vegetables and fun

With a little creativity one can have interesting and versatile lunches,” explains La-Rentia. Make simple changes about twice a week, add a treat to lunches once in a while. As an alternative to sweets, Sasha suggests using nuts as they provide many nutrients and are great to snack on. When it comes to the sandwich, alternate

with different breads such as pitas,tortillas, rolls, sliced bread and bagels.

Getting involved

One of the best ways to get your little ones eating and enjoying their lunch is to get them involved. Discuss what they like and dislike about their lunches and talk to them

about healthy eating habits. “Children who are not exposed to good eating habits grow up to be adults with unhealthy practices and more often than not, health issues”, adds La-Rentia. Let children help you prepare lunches. Children love being involved.