Have you ever tried to remove junk food from your little one’s lunchbox rotation only to find yourself subject to a tantrum of epic proportions? Yeah, we’ve been there too!
Instead of ditching their favourite treat completely and replacing it with an apple (or something equally as repulsive to young palates!) all you have to do is think outside the box.
To help kick things off, we’ve come up with seven easy, healthy and delicious food swaps that taste almost as good as the real thing!
1. Swap Chips for Popcorn
Think about how you’re feeling when you’re craving chips. Usually it’s just when you’ve got a hankering for something savoury and salty, right? Well, our kids are the same!
A 19g serving of Smith’s Original Crinkle Cut Potato Chips contains 100 calories. On the other hand, the same amount of lightly salted popcorn has just 71 and has the added benefits of fibre and monounsaturated fats.
Dried fruit is delicious, yes, but it’s also packed with sugar. While it’s true that natural sugar isn’t quite as bad as refined sugar, it’s still sugar, and a snack box of sultanas can contain in excess of 25g – that’s five teaspoons!
Instead, pack a small handful of grapes in their lunchbox – even half a cup will save them 17g of sugar.
3. Swap Store-Bought Muesli Bars for Homemade
The problem with store-bought muesli bars is that you don’t really know what’s in them. After all, who’s going to spend hours checking the ingredients of everything they buy? Control what goes into your children’s muesli bars by making them yourself. These two-ingredient bars are delicious, easy to make, and the kids can even help out!
Simply blend 250g of toasted muesli with 350g dried apricots in a food processor until it forms a dough, then pour into a lined baking tin, smoothing over until flat. Allow to rest in the fridge until firm and cut up into bars. Too easy!
4. Swap Cheese and Crackers for Veg and Hummus
We get it, it’s so easy to throw packaged cheese and crackers in their lunchbox on a busy, rushed morning. But it’s just as easy to switch to veggies and hummus! You can even prepare it the night before – just chop up some carrot and celery and pack with a small container of hummus. Tasty and easy!
Those squeezy tubes and mini yoghurt tubs may a favourite with your little ones, but they’re full of added sugar, artificial colours and flavours. Instead, simply make your own!
All you need is a big tub of Greek yoghurt, a dash of honey and their favourite fruit. Mix it all together, pop it in a small reusable container and pack it with their lunch. Cheap, easy, tasty and better for the environment, too!
6. Swap White for Wholegrain
Swapping out refined grains like white bread, rice, pasta and crackers for their wholemeal or wholegrain counterparts will give the kids a huge fibre boost. Who knew such a small (and when it comes to taste, barely noticeable) change could make such a big difference?
7. Swap Roll-Ups for Homemade Fruit Leather
Thanks to their astronomical sugar content, roll-ups are usually a sometimes-treat anyway, but by making this healthy version at home, you can treat your child to their favourite snack more often.
To start, preheat your oven to the lowest temperature possible. Choose whatever fruit’s in season and blend to create a puree, adding one tablespoon of lemon juice and one tablespoon of honey (or more, to taste). Line a baking tray with a silicone mat (or baking paper) and pour the mixture until covering the whole tray. Bake for 4 – 5 hours, or until the centre is no longer tacky. Slice into strips and roll up with baking paper. Done!