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Back to school cheat guide: Lunch box edition

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Following multiple disastrous takes on prepping school lunch for my daughter, I have finally found some rhythm. To be honest, I sobered up when Bontle told me she no longer wanted bananas and yoghurt as part of her school lunch.

Listen, I must admit, I wasn't as woke because when the creche said "pack snacks, e.g. yoghurt and banana", that's literally what I packed her E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y! Although these were her favourite things to eat, girl got tired of me and finally spoke up. When she did, I had no idea what to substitute those two items with.

This is what brought me on this journey, giving birth to YUM TUMS.

YUM TUMS is all about nutritious and wholesome school lunches as well as party treats (party packs). Healthy food habits are important to cultivate in our kids from a young age. So if your child is still in their formative years, this is an opportune time to hone these habits. And if your child is older, this may be challenging but teaching your child about the importance of certain foods and how they benefit them may go a long way, instead of forcing it on them without providing context. Explore and try out new things together.

Since I started sharing the school lunches I pack for Bontle, I’ve been getting requests from Moms asking for some tips on what to pack their bundles of joy for lunch. A common misconception is that packing a healthy school lunch is tricky and expensive but with planning, it can all be a breeze and turn out affordable.

So with this in mind, I’ve outlined some things to consider below when packing lunch for your kids. These can be used for household planning too and of course those healthy, nutritious work lunch boxes.

  1. It is so easy to pick out items, especially snacks, that our kids love to nibble on even though they aren’t necessarily healthier options. Be careful of food items that don’t contribute much except increase cholesterol levels, makes the kids overly energetic or sluggish.

  2. Another thing to consider is not getting into the habit of packing dull and boring. You want your child to look forward to their break time. There isn’t much enthusiasm if you pack the same food everyday, all in the name of “it’s their favourite”.

  3. Take into consideration economics of scale too. With the rising cost of living, meal planning can help reduce unnecessary waste (food not being eaten or being spoilt). Meal planning allows you to purchase just enough of what you need for a week or two. When you plan meals for home consumption, this is an opportune time to plan for lunch boxes too. For example, some items from the Sunday leftovers can be served / packed in a lunch box.

  4. Food preservation is something to also take into consideration. If you buy in bulk, find ways to preserve the food so they have a longer shelf life.

If at the end of this article you’ve forgotten everything I’ve shared, be sure to remember these YUM TUMS top tips:

  • Consult your child on what they would like you to pack for them.

  • Do your lunchbox preps in alignment with the home meal planning. This is to avoid a daily over intake of foods from certain groups and an inadequate intake from others. Additionally, this will save you money as somedays you can pack some left overs.

  • Presentation is everything. Visually appealing, freshly made, makes for yummy devouring.

  • Packing a lunchbox with foods from all food groups allows for colourful variety. Variety is important to ensure a good intake of all required nutrients and vitamins the lil bodies need to grow and develop.

  • Go easy on processed foods items like polony, vienna, etc. We know they love them but they aren't as healthy.

  • Oven bake, instead of frying food.

  • Serve fresh fruits and vegetables. Water instead of juice everyday.

  • To keep food fresh, safe and edible, they need to be preserved at the right temperatures. Invest in a good insulated lunch bag, ice packs, and BPA-free containers (bottles and lunch boxes).

  • Make lunchboxes fun by using bread cutters for quirky sandwiches.

  • Seal off the lunchbox with affirmation stickers or hand-written notes. You’ll score extra brownie points with these :)

If you still aren’t sure about where to start, download the sample lunch menu here. I am sure it will give you some hints and ideas.

I can’t wait to see what you pack for your lil ones. Here’s to wholesome, nourishing and fully balanced school lunches.

Be part of the community and share your lunch boxes using #yumtumssa.

Be sure to tag me too @fifi_says_ on instagram.

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