Jacqueline’s great ideas for planning to get you started…
I’m popping this top of the list for the parents reading this because without a bit of time to yourself, even just 20 minutes to do something on your own, it truly is difficult to manage everyone else’s needs. I think the biggest mistake is thinking that you can just slip it in somewhere without making the plan to do so because we all know when you do that then the day escapes and all of a sudden its bedtime and you’ve zero time out.
Plan to have a walk, sit and breathe, dive into a book or a mag, catch up with a friend for coffee, exercise, whatever floats your boat – but make a plan to carve out the time for you and the chaos of going back to school all of a sudden doesn’t feel as chaotic. If you feel you can’t because you have too much to do or are on your own then you need this even more – don’t be afraid to ask someone for their help for this short amount of time to reinvest in the most important person – YOU.
I ensure before the week begins that I have planned four family dinners, a few different lunchbox options so the kids aren’t always eating the same foods each day and each week I encourage to make one healthy treat with the kids to pop in their lunchbox too. These could be healthy banana bread, nut free energy balls, sweet potato brownies, jelly gummies, muffins – whichever is the family choice for that week.
However doing this together is important because it not only gets the family in the kitchen but also helps children realise the structure and planning that goes into the week from a young age so they can grow up understanding the importance of it – for the entire family. I also create structure around breakfast too so it’s not eaten on the fly and sets us up well for the day. A glass of water with a multivitamin such as HIVITA Liquivita for Kids and Womens Multi for mums to start. Followed by a wholesome breakfast sitting at the table, rather than a mouthful here and a mouthful there as so often kids like to. Everyone takes their dishes to the sink so it’s not all laden on one person and then off to brush teeth and get to school. The more families take time to sit and eat meals at a table and together the more they optimise their nutrition and of course time together as a family too.
Aim for a variety throughout the week. I know some parents feel as though their children will only eat one type of food and so they don’t want to risk putting anything else in their lunchbox, but we have to keep exposing our kids to new foods – they will eventually, even if at first they don’t want to, pick it up and try it. Aim to pack sources of protein, carbohydrates and fats into lunch and recess to balance energy and nutrition throughout the day.
Try these for lunch and snacks throughout the school week:
+ hidden veggie savoury muffins (add carrots, zucchini, grated broccoli or cauliflower to the mix)
+ hummus with carrot, capsicum and celery – or whichever 3 veggies your kids will eat
+ baked ricotta
+ crunchy beans – bake tinned legumes (rinse and drain) such as butter beans, cannellini beans and chickpeas in the oven with some olive oil until crunchy
+ tuna avocado and sprouts in a wrap
+ picnic style lunches with olives, cherry tomatoes, seeds, sprouts, cheese, chicken or meat (you can pop a freezer block in the lunchbag to keep these cool)
+ rainbow pasta salad with fresh veggies, olive oil and legumes
+ cheese toasties on wholemeal or sourdough bread as as change from the normal sandwich – add in fats such as avocado, butter, ricotta, feta or cheddar here to provide more sustained energy
+ home made treats – on rotation in our house is Banana Coconut Bread, anzac cookies, nut free bliss balls, sweet potato brownies, fruit wraps and Jelly Gummies
+ any small fruits such as berries, kiwifruit, sliced up stone fruit
+ and of course vegetables! Be creative with these, rather than always packing them as whole or just cut pieces, ribbon the carrots with a veggie peeler, cut the cucumber into fine coins, include leftover pieces of baked sweet potato from last night’s dinner when possible, cut tomatoes in fun shapes – we love a star tomato in our house!
I have a number of lunchbox ideas and recipes on my blog too.
Jacqueline Alwill, is an accredited nutritionist, author, founder of Brown Paper Nutrition and recently launched vegetarian meal delivery service Brown Paper Eats She is passionately committed to improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and families. Jacqueline is mum to 8-year-old Jet.