The new school year is back with a bang and, unless your school serves meals, you are probably scrambling for some fresh lunchbox ideas. Your kiddo will need food that adds stamina to help them face the daily lessons, tests, exams and extra-curricular activities.
To help them keep up, Zambian born food blogger, Clara Kapelembe-Bwali has a few ideas for wholesome and easy-to-make school lunches. She believes second to breakfast, lunch is an important meal.
Bwali, the founder of the Kalulushi-based food styling and photography hub Black Garlic, is the mother of two busy boys. She says, “A packed lunch made at home can be a healthy and delicious choice and gives you control over the foods and ingredients included.”
Am I doing healthy lunches right?
It’s no surprise that parents might need some help understanding what it means to eat healthy.
“As a parent you always ask yourself if you are doing a good job, or if you are a good enough parent,” says Vanessa Mathiba (32) from Vryburg in the North West.
“We want to make sure our children are safe and secure and eating right. I always try to make sure that my child is eating the right foods for his growth, I also try to balance with some of his favorites. My child is a very fussy eater so making sure he has enough fruit, his juice and water. I try to make sure that even at home his snack time has something healthy even with junk food.”
Marcee Reid (29) from Kimberley is the mother of a son who is just about to start preschool. She says, “My main thing is what is nutritional but still yummy for him? I generally eat quite healthily but I always struggle to find the balance between nutrition and ‘he’s just a kid.’ Another thing I’m also struggling with is portion control. How much of what do I give?”
The good news is that you don’t need a degree in nutrition to raise healthy kids, says Pretoria-based dietitian, Jason van Heerden.
“Children have exceptionally high energy requirements because they are growing. Literally every single part of the body is growing, the brain, the muscles, everything that us adults have already finished growing,” he says.
To make sure that their needs are fully met, accessibility is key. After all it is difficult to pin down a tiny human who is more focused on a soccer ball or stressed about finishing their homework so they can play more.
How to create healthy food environments
That being said, getting children to eat healthy foods can sometimes feel like fighting an uphill battle. The leafier and greener the food, the greater the struggle. But child nutrition is incredibly important, and you don’t need to cave in and let them eat nothing but fast food and sweets.
“It’s worth the struggle,” believes Van Heerden. “If the parents are not eating healthy, how can they expect the kids to? It’s so important to have kids eating with family [and] eating with friends so that they can learn because if the parents say, ‘Oh, I don’t like carrots. I didn’t eat my vegetables,’ why would the kids want it?”
Try Bwali’s crumbed fish and loaded hotdogs
Try Clara’s bread crumbed fish fillet, roasted potato wedges and veggies. “I always love a fish fillet that is flaky and delicious,” she says.
2 Fish fillets(store bought)
2 tbsp Bread crumbs
Flour for dusting
1 large Egg
- Coat fish fillet with flour, dip in egg then generously coat with bread crumbs. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
- Fry until golden brown.
- Serve immediately.
Or how about these hotdogs?
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup carrots
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp curry powder
- Grate cabbage, carrots and onion. In a clean pan add butter. Once melted fry cabbage, carrots and onion. Add salt and curry powder.
- Fry Vienna’s or microwave.
- Apply mayo on a toasted hot dog roll.