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Get kids involved in making their own lunch

Wednesday, 22nd August, 2018 4:31pm

Oh the joy - children are back to school soon!

Many of my friends – as much as they love their kids – are happy to count the days until the little ones are back at school.

An email that popped into my inbox the other day by the National Dairy Council gave some ideas on what to put into the lunch boxes. Lilly Higgins and dietician Louise Reynolds have put their heads together to come up with some great ideas, supported by the National Dairy Council.

Louise recommends that a lunch box should include one portion each of starchy carbohydrates, protein, dairy, vegetable, fruit and water/milk.

Sounds simple enough but when I spoke to a mother recently, she mentioned that she couldn’t do much with that information but when I gave her the idea of a pasta salad with peas and carrots, a boiled egg and a dressing made from yogurt, she had the ‘aha’ moment. What I really urge mothers and fathers to do is get a bit of variety in your child’s lunch box. How often does it happen that a child eats sliced pan ham and cheese sandwiches? Maybe make it a wrap with fresh lettuce, grated cheese (please look for quality here), tomato (deseeding the tomato will prevent the wrap to go soggy) and a bit of relish and the lunch break becomes less predictable.

Just by adding fresh salad leaves to a simple sandwich, you create something different. I can hear you say that your child won’t eat it or ‘you try to get them to eat that’ – but here is the thing, involve them to create their own lunch.

Give them options – not involving sweet, crisps etc. but by laying out fruit, vegetables etc. You might be surprised – I learned that children want to be involved in cooking – so why not in the preparation for their own lunch?

Food writer Lilly Higgins agrees with me and she should know, having three children herself.

When I drive through Blarney during lunchtime, I see children and teenagers heading straight to the petrol station and coming out with deep-fried wedges, sausage rolls, packs of crisps and biscuits etc.

I didn’t see one of them with a bowl of salad in their hand. Unfortunately, the shop plays right into their hands by offering more deep-fried fast food than healthy options. I guess demand dictates the supply.

But just because your child has entered the (as my mum called it) ‘horror years’ doesn’t mean sending him or her off with a fiver a day to get lunch in a shop.

Remember how you were when left to your own devices – I do and I can tell you that it wasn’t pretty. I lived on fish fingers most days.

But my secondary school had a very good system in place. Parents bought vouchers each week and each day you paid for your food with these vouchers – but, and here is what made this system very good - you weren’t able to buy sweets, crisps or anything else but a proper lunch that was on offer.

Okay, looking back, the food was awful as only canteen food can be but at least we had a proper lunch.

But in the absence of this system, check out the National Dairy Council website for some ideas from Louise Reynolds and Lilly Higgins.


Upcoming food events:

23 Aug. Cork Whiskey Society @ Tequila Jack’s

24 Aug. Taste of Fermoy

26 Aug. VoxPro Urban Garden Festival

2 – 9 Sept. Feast – East Cork Food Festival

7 – 16 Sept. A Taste of West Cork

7 – 9 Sept. Waterford Harvest Festival

8 Sept. Rare Cookbook Workshop @ Urru


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