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If the thought of school lunches brings back memories of soggy sandwiches and bruised bananas, you’re not alone.
Packing a nutritious lunchbox that’s appealing to a fickle little diner is something of an art form – and getting it right can make the costs rack up quickly once the school year kicks off.
Happily, all you need to make sure your little scholars are full of energy for the busy day ahead (on a budget) is a little creativity and half an hour a week to prepare.
These ideas can all be put together for less than €10 at Lidl:
Step 1: Choose your carbs
If wholegrain bread is a little ‘last year’ for your miniature food critics, switch to wraps, pita bread or crackers. This keeps it interesting, meaning children are more likely to look forward to lunchtime.
To prevent food wastage, keep your pitas and wraps in the freezer and defrost as needed.
Step 2: Prep your protein
Protein is what keeps kids full long after the lunch bell has been rung. Here are some tasty, inexpensive options to prepare on Sunday:
Tuna surprise: Add a spoon of mayonnaise, some sweetcorn and a chopped ring of tinned pineapple to a can of tuna and keep the mix in the fridge for easy access in the morning. Use it to fill a pita or wrap.
Boiled eggs: Fun to eat, with a serious protein punch, boiling and peeling a carton of eggs on Sunday means they’re ready to go throughout the week.
Roll-ups: Roll a slice of turkey around a slice of cheese and a cherry tomato – ideal for kids who tend to leave the bread behind.
Peanut butter hummus: Blitz a can of chickpeas with two tablespoons of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and four tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter (add warm water to achieve the consistency you desire). Divide into four little containers and add some veggie batons (carrot and celery are ideal) for dipping.
Step 3: Add flavour with fruit
If your child is not a huge fruit fan, there are some tricks that could entice them to chow down. For instance; add some halved grapes to a little container with some cubes of cheddar cheese or mix a few spoons of Greek yogurt with a dollop of stewed apple or rhubarb.
Step 4: Consider leftovers
Remember that veggie pizza they devoured for dinner last night? A leftover slice will be just as delicious the following day. Frittatas, pasta, chicken skewers and quiche are just as popular cold and they make an interesting alternative to bread.
Leftover rice can be mixed with chicken, peas and beans to make a tasty and filling salad pot.
Step 5: Get them into the H20 habit
Studies show that staying hydrated can boost concentration and help children focus for longer in the classroom. Let your kids choose their own bottle or travel cup to take to school with them, then experiment with fruit infusions (try a slice of fresh orange, lime or some chopped strawberries) or sugar-free cordials to make their water more appealing.
Adding some ice cubes in the morning will ensure their H20 is nicely chilled when they reach for it too.
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