“Mum, dad! Can you fix me lunch for school?”Surely many parents are not surprised when they realize that kids are asking to bring homemade food to school.
Be it because the ingredients used in the making of the meals are cooked in a different way from the ones they are used to, or simply because they feel like having that comforting plate that tastes like home.
Whatever the reason for this refusal, it is extremely important to make sure your little monsters eat right and have the much needed energy to play, learn and grow in a healthy way, all day long.
How to prepare a healthy lunch?
According to the Portuguese Nutrition Association (APN) and the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) there are some guidelines that should be followed to create healthy lunches for school children. All these guidelines are based on promoting good habits among children – including eating vegetables, not abusing sweets or processed food, avoiding excess fat, sugar and salt, and avoiding fast food.
A good way to inspire good eating habits on kids, is to get them used to starting a healthy meal by eating a soup or a salad. Similarly, it is a good step towards a healthier eating to encourage your children not to use too much salt (maybe by replacing it with herbs and spices) or sauces like mayonnaise or tartar.
Desert should be a complement to a healthy lunch, not a deviation, so a piece of fruit is ideal. To spice things up, you can try a yoghurt with chopped fruit after a light healthy lunch. Stay away (and keep your little terror away) from sugary and processed deserts – these should be given only on occasion, to avoid becoming a demand. Juices and soft drinks on a daily basis should also be avoided.
Take special attention to always include some kind of vegetable on your kid’s healthy lunch, cooked or raw, and, if possible, a small portion of beans and pulses. Meat, fish and eggs should not be more that 25% of your child’s lunch. The key to a healthy lunch is balance.
Water is in the centre of a healthy routine: it is fundamental for a child’s health and healthy development, so you should encourage them to drink it regularly.
Our last recommendation for you is that you try to create dishes and healthy lunches that are visually appealing and tasty for your little ones. A pretty lunch isn’t necessarily a healthy lunch, but for your little munchkin it might be the difference between eating and not eating lunch. And remember: a colourful plate is a fun plate, and a healthy one!
Healthy Lunch recipes for school
Green Bean Soup
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 leek
2 tbsp olive oil
- 200 g sweet potato
- 200 g butternut squash
- 1 zucchini
- 1 tsp salt
- 200 g green beans
- 1 L water
- Peel the onion and garlic, chop them and throw them in a pot.
- Cut the leek in thin slices, rinse well and add to the pot. Drizzle the olive oil over it and let cook in low heat.
- Peel the potatoes and the squash, cut them into cubes and add to the leek, onion and garlic. Wash the zucchini, cube it and combine it with the rest of vegetables.
- Sprinkle with salt and stir. Cover your pot and let cook in very low heat for about 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Stir the pan every now and then.
- Wash the green beans, cut them into small pieces, and place them in a glass bowl. Cover the bowl with an appropriate lid or use cling film and cook in full power for 5 minutes.
- When the vegetables are tender, add the water, boiling, to the pot and bend well. Add the green beans last.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
- 120 g of spaghetti-like spiralised carrot
- 85 g of oat flakes
- 2 tablespoons of grated Mozzarella cheese
- 1 teaspoon of parsley (basil, coriander)
- 1 medium size egg
- 60 g of breadcrumbs + 60 g for wrapping
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Preheat the oven to 180º C.
- For the meatballs, shred the carrot and place it in a bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients, mixing well.
- Form small balls, pass them through breadcrumbs and place them in a tray lined with baking paper.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Serve with a beetroot, sweet corn and cabbage salad.
- 200 g of Red Globe grapes
- 1/2 cantaloupe melon
- 2 kiwis
- 1 natural yogurt
- 100 g of strawberries
- 1 teaspoon of finely minced mint
- Wash the grapes, open them in half and remove the seeds.
- Remove the peel and seeds from the melon and dice it.
- Peel the kiwis and cut them into slices.
- Crush the strawberries in a blender and mix with the yogurt.
- Toss the fruits in a salad bowl along with the yoghurt sauce.
- Serve and add a sprinkle of the mint leaves.
How about surprising your kids with these healthy lunch ideas?