- Include foods from all the core food groups; wholegrain breads and cereals, lean meat or a vegetarian alternative, fruits, vegetables, and dairy (milk, yoghurt or cheese).
- Make lunchbox foods quick and easy to eat. Toddlers have far more exciting things to do than eat. If children can’t get to their food quickly, then it’s likely to go uneaten.
- Avoid too many processed, individually packaged foods. These can be an expensive way to fill lunchboxes, and the rubbish doesn’t do the environment any favours either.
- Keep food safe. Food needs to be kept cool to prevent harmful bacteria developing and ideally it should be eaten within four hours (if not refrigerated). One solution is to put a frozen tub of yoghurt or milk drink in the lunchbox. It helps to keep it cool plus it can then be used as a healthy snack once thawed. Insulated lunch bags are also a good idea or you can use a frozen esky brick.
- Don’t add ‘treat foods’ to your toddler’s lunch just for excitement. Instead include a special note or picture, a sticker, or use a cookie cutter to make sandwiches more fun.
- Once your little ones are old enough, involve them in packing their own lunch. Let them choose between two or three different healthy snack options.
- Offer variety. There is nothing worse than seeing the same sandwich day after day! Increased variety also means a greater variety of nutrients.
- Prepare lunchboxes the night before to avoid that last-minute rush if you have a preschool day or an appointment.
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