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21st Aug 2019

‘It can be a mission’: Claudine Keane on how to tackle school lunches with fussy eaters

It’s nearly back to school time!

The new school year is fast approaching and it’s safe to say we’re all prepping for it. With books bought, uniforms fitted and stationery selected, we’re just about good to go.

However, while we may have all the essentials ready, we’re also looking at healthy ideas for our kids’ lunch boxes. If you have a fussy eater then you’ll know it’s an uphill battle, especially if you put in time preparing food and it comes back at the end of the day with one bite taken out of it.

Today, Claudine Keane officially launched the SPAR Better Choices Back to School Value campaign and it has an abundance of choice.

We spoke to Claudine about how she manages her little fussy eaters, as well as the importance of eating dinner as a family.

The mum-of-two said that while her eldest son, Robert (10) will eat anything, her youngest, Hudson (3), can be picky at times.

“I try to make it fun. Getting them to eat fruit and getting them to eat vegetables can be a mission sometimes, so we cut them into shapes and we do fun little things just to entice them to start eating.

“Boys at three are quite afraid of trying new things, but if you make it fun or play games they tend to go for it. Hudson is, at the moment, eating everything a little bit mashed,” she says.

While Claudine says that her eldest son will “eat anything”, both boys are still particular about what goes into their lunch boxes. “I always separate [the food] because they don’t like things touching or things squashing together. It turns them off if one thing gets on the other!”

It has become easier for Robert though, since he’s joined the Academy team for Middlesbrough.

“They’ve actually given them tips on how much calcium they need, you know, little things. When [the coach] tells them what to eat, I think they really stick to it.”

As a family who surrounds themselves with sport, Claudine says that healthy eating is key in her household. Her husband, former Ireland international Robbie, has to stick to a diet during pre-season, but she tries to have the family eat together as often as possible.

“Rob would have pasta a lot, maybe three to four times a week, I might have it twice a week, so there’s little things, but in general if I cook fish, we all eat fish. The kids might have a different side to what we would have, but we make it work.

“We try and enjoy it as a family and to be honest as well, you’re not going to be able to cook different things for everybody.”

As much as Claudine would love to cook every meal from scratch, she also knows that it’s not practical to do every single day. She loves how the SPAR Better Choices Back to School Value range is easy and accessible – and you don’t have to loose out on the goodness of fresh, healthy meals.

“They’re doing great deals and I just love how everything is based on healthy eating. I’m very passionate about that with two boys on the go, but I’m realistic that you can’t make food all the time. Everything has to be convenient but good, and if you have dietary requirements, like gluten-free or low fat or high protein, they’ve covered everything in the range.

“They worked with a dietitian so you’re getting all your nutrients and just because you’re having convenience food you don’t have to give up having healthy food as well.”

Shoppers can expect money-saving deals in-store from now until September 4, with special offers across a range of breakfast, lunchbox and dinner-time options.