Another school year is here, which means that parents and caregivers will be wrestling again with the age-old dilemma of what to pack in their kids’ lunchboxes. Finding the balance between healthy lunchbox items that kids enjoy and that don’t break the bank is an ongoing challenge for many. Luckily, Mbali Mapholi, Laager Tea4Kidz partner dietitian, has shared some convenient and cost-effective lunchbox meals and snacks to get the school year off to a nutritious start.
“School meals must provide nourishment for growing minds, and the lunchbox stands as a pivotal component of a child’s daily nutrition, requiring a delicate balance between health, time efficiency, and budget considerations,” explained Mapholi. “To help inspire parents and caregivers to start the year right, I’ve put together a selection of simple and nutritious lunchbox ideas that won’t break the bank!”
Blend 1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 2 tablespoons of tahini, 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, 1 clove of garlic or ½ teaspoon of minced garlic, juice of 1 lemon, and salt to taste.
Layer the lettuce on a slice of brown or seeded bread, add hummus and cucumber slices, add more lettuce and close with another slice of bread.
2. Chicken and pea pesto sandwich
This sandwich pairs lean chicken protein with the nutritional benefits of peas, creating a filling and delicious sandwich.
Pea pesto recipe
Blend 1 cup of thawed frozen peas, 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese or a handful of nuts, salt and pepper to season.
Spread pea pesto onto a slice of bread (toasted or not). Add lettuce and cooked chicken pieces.
3. Tuna with a twist
Tuna supplies omega-3 fatty acids crucial for brain health. A creative twist on this classic option is perfect for kids.
Combine canned tuna (drained) with mayonnaise or mustard and diced cucumber mixed up.
Spread mixture over the bread and add mixed herbs (optional).
4. Egg salad sandwich
Eggs provide essential proteins and nutrients, creating a well-rounded and satisfying meal.
Mix boiled and mashed eggs with plain yoghurt, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Spread on bread.
5. Peanut butter and apple sandwich with honey drizzle
Peanut butter provides protein and healthy fats, while apples provide fibre and natural sweetness.
Spread peanut butter on brown bread, layer with thinly sliced apples, and drizzle with honey before closing with another slice of bread.
Keeping children hydrated during the school day is also key, particularly in the warmer months. Finding alternatives to sugary fruit juices and cold drinks is important, as sugar spikes and dips during the school day can negatively impact concentration. Homemade iced tea is a healthy and cost-effective alternative that can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Simply brew a strong batch of Laager Tea4Kidz Rooibos tea, sweeten it lightly with honey, and let it chill in the fridge. Add ice and sliced fruit for a delicious and refreshing lunchtime beverage.
Candice Sessions, Laager Marketing Manager, said that nutritious lunchbox meals don’t need to be time-consuming or expensive – the key lies with planning ahead:
“Weekday mornings can be rushed and stressful, so ensuring you have healthy lunchbox meals on hand for your kids and family starts with planning. A weekly meal planner, with lunchbox meals included, can be a great solution. This can help parents and caregivers plan ahead for the week and ensure that the ingredients they need for healthy meals are on-hand.”
The Laager Tea4Kidz Rooibos range is naturally caffeine-free and sugar-free, and offers a variety of flavours, including 2 with added Vitamin C for even more health benefits. Parents and caregivers can also access a range of healthy recipes, advice and tips via the Joekels website, www.joekels.co.za, and via @Tea4Kidz on Facebook and @LaagerRooibosTea on Instagram.