While many families will be starting off the school year remotely others are planning a return to school either full-time, or following a blended schedule. With the pandemic still around, this is probably not the best time to surprise them with new foods in their lunch box.
In addition to the usual school supplies, parents need to add items such as face masks and hand sanitisers for the start of the school year.
Here are recommendations for packing a healthy school lunch in the midst of COVID-19:
Stick with familiar, well-liked foods. Pack their favourites and involve them in the meal planning process. Consider a prep-ahead lunch station so children can pick and choose what sounds good that day (this will also help with the morning routine).
Opt for fuss-free packaging and containers. Remember that for small children, just opening containers and wrappers can be a challenge. Make sure your child's little fingers can easily open everything you pack.
Skip the potentially messy foods. Any foods that can easily spill or end up all over your child’s hands are best avoided for now.
Keep nutritious foods in mind. If it's possible, consider packing a variety of foods with immune-supporting nutrients such as vitamins C and D, zinc and protein, and try to keep added sugars to a minimum. Simple options include peeled orange segments, sliced apples and or yoghurt pouches.
If your child may be concerned about picking up germs at the school's cafeteria, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic, reassure her/him that the school staff are careful, clean tables, seats, and other surfaces between lunch periods.
Provide action steps to minimise their fears and ensure that they feel safe eating at school. Remind your child to wash their hands before lunch. You can also include a small pack of alcohol-based hand wipes in their lunch box to use just before eating.