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By Christine Phillips, mother of 3. Loves spending time with her family and enjoys the fulfilment of running her own business. She is the owner of Little Cooks Club.

I don’t know about you but I find that as my children get older, their days have become filled with more activities, responsibilities and homework.

I can definitely see my kids begin to flag around 2pm if they haven’t eaten well up until that point in the day. I know a lot of children who, at the age of 10 are already doing sports activities that run until 6 or 7 at night during the week.

We, as parents, need to be sure that we are providing our children’s bodies with enough fuel to sustain this kind of energy output.

How to begin?

A good breakfast

  • muesli or cooked oats is a good place to begin.
  • keep the sugary cereals for the holidays or
  • allow your kids to mix the good with the bad if that is what will work better for you – a little bit of the sugary cereal mixed into a bowl of porridge or muesli.
  • encourage honey as a sweetner instead of sugar. My kids love to use the wooden honey stick to pour honey onto their cereal.
  • chop some fruit into the cereal bowl too.

Remember to start slowly with any changes to children’s food routines as they can be resistant  if the change is too drastic.

Next, let’s tackle the packed  school lunches.

  • Lunchboxes: Take your child to help you choose the right lunchbox. Kids usually have a good idea of what they want and for younger children this could mean the difference between eating the lunch or leaving it. Choose an airtight lunchbox to keep food fresh and if it has compartments , all the better. I find a largish lunchbox works well and then I buy smaller containers to place inside, for hummus to dip carrot sticks or yogurt to dip strawberries or low fat mayonnaise to dip chipolatas. It doesn’t have to be expensive, check out any of the huge plastic warehouses that have opened.

Now that you have your perfect lunchbox, what to pack?

  • A sandwich? Boring? Not really. Think of all the cold meats, varieties of cheese and bread that are on the supermarket shelves these days.
  • You could cook up a batch of soup (or simply buy fresh soup from the supermarket) which you can heat and pour into an insulated coffee mug for those wintry days
  • Make up a fruit smoothie with yoghurt and honey and pour into a liquid tight drinking cup.
  • There are endless variations of pasta salads that hold up better in lunchboxes than lettuce type salads.
  • My kids love it when I add anything that can be dipped such as chipolatas, home made crumbed chicken fillets, slices of sausage or vienna, home made bread sticks and carrot sticks. For dips try hummus and any flavoured cream cheese for a change.
  • How about spending half an hour over the weekend making popcorn or baking a batch of seedbars, cupcakes or muffins to add to the weekly lunchboxes as a treat.

With a bit of planning, you could save yourself the cost of expensive shop bought sandwiches and snacks and avoid the temptation of packing chips, sweets and other high calorie, no good food into your children’s lunchboxes.

Little Cooks Club runs classes for moms that include ideas for simple, healthy weeknight suppers and more ideas and recipes for snacks and lunchboxes.

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