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Easy, healthy lunch boxes get 10 out of 10!

Let’s be honest. Packing a nutritious, appealing lunch box isn’t easy. Time constraints, cost concerns … all hurdles that busy parents must grapple with.

What goes into the lunch box, and what gets eaten during the school day are really important. Lunch, snacks and hydration make a significant impact on our kids’ energy levels and their abilities to concentrate and perform, both cognitively and physically throughout the school day.

Juicy Delicious and Rediscover Dairy have teamed up to provide inspiration and dietitian advice to make mastering school lunch boxes much easier.

An important feature of school lunch boxes is the inclusion of vegetables and fruits every day. Luckily it is still stone fruit season … firm, juicy yellow cling peaches, succulent plums and deliciously sweet nectarines are all excellent lunch box fruits because they travel well as whole fruits. They are refreshing on a hot school day, packed with fibre and immune-boosting vitamins C and A, and loved by children as much as any sweet treat.

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Maretha Vermaak, the registered dietitian at Rediscover Dairy tell us when it comes to nutritional balance, parents need to ensure that school lunch box foods are contributing to their child’s needs for protein, energy, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. And this is where dairy shines. Luckily, kids love dairy, so it is an ideal solution for picky eaters. Milk, cheese, maas and yoghurt offer a unique nutritional spectrum as well as being a vital source of vitamins such as A, B2, and B12, as well as potassium and zinc.

And if you combine the two … stone fruit with dairy – think a fresh peach milkshake or nectarine yoghurt smoothie – you have the ideal, nutrient-dense drink on-the-go.

Here are half a dozen tips to master lunch box prep:

Plan ahead: Include lunch box prep in your weekly meal planning and shopping. Create a weekly list to focus on buying a variety of healthy, fresh lunch box foods. If you limit biscuits, sweets and crisps stored in your grocery cupboards then there’s less chance they will end up in the lunch box.

Involve your kids: Consider your child’s food preferences and include them in the lunch box preparation process. Make it a fun and interactive experience.

Daily dairy: You need to aim to include at least two to three servings of dairy in your child’s daily diet. Luckily there are many ways to include milk, cheese, yoghurt and maas in the school lunch box. You can freeze a small yoghurt or fruit juice to keep the lunch box cold.

Always include fruits and vegetables: Each day prioritise fresh fruits and vegetables, based on what is seasonally available, which helps to meet daily energy, fibre, vitamin and mineral needs.

Avoid unhealthy foods: Steer clear of fried, sugary, and high-salt foods to promote overall health and cultivate healthy eating choices from an early age.

Choose healthy beverages: Include low-calorie, healthy, nutrient-rich beverages like milk or water instead of fizzy drinks and sugary cordials.

For more inspiration and recipes, follow @juicydelicioussa on Instagram or visit www.juicydelicious.co.za


Complied by: KYM ARGO

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