Healthy lunches with the Flora Lunchbox Challenge

Packed lunches for school can be a difficult one to get right, as a parent you want to make sure your little ones (or bigger ones) are eating properly but you also want them to actually eat what you make. It's a balancing act and more often than not I fail.

When I'm making packed lunches I will usually go for the easiest and quickest options. I don't want to have to spend an hour making packed lunches when I have so many other things to do before the school run. 

The Easy Option

My boys' packed lunches usually consist of a sandwich made of sliced ham or chicken (sometimes turkey) on white bread, a packet of crisps, a yoghurt, and a drink. It doesn't sound very healthy does it? 

I've tried for years to get them to eat healthier lunches but it always results in them bringing their full lunchbox home having not eaten anything. They refuse to eat any vegetables or salad and the only way I can get them to eat any vegetables at all is by hiding them in their food.

Changing my mind

After hearing about a Flora-commissioned University of Leeds study in which they found that only 1.6% of children's lunchboxes are meeting school food nutritional standards I've decided to re-evaluate the lunches I make for the boys.

I would usually buy a different brand but learning that every Flora tub contains plant oils (like sunflower, rapeseed, and linseed), is lower in saturated fats than butter and provides a source of healthy Omega 3 and 6 has made me make the switch. Flora has also recently launched Flora Freedom which is a 100% dairy free product, free of preservatives, artificial colours and flavours, and is approved by The Vegetarian Society (like the rest of the Flora range).

Flora have distributed 631,000 lunchboxes with recipe planners to retailers throughout the UK to help make packing lunches easier for parents and I intend to use the planner. Yes, my boys are picky eaters and will refuse to eat cucumber for example, but if I can find a way of sneaking healthy food into their packed lunches then I will.

Healthier Choices

As an experiment I tried out the Pasta Tossed with Tuna and Fresh Herbs recipe. I was surprised by how tasty and filling the meal was, I enjoyed it and wouldn't mind saving the pasta and keeping it in the fridge for lunch the next day. Unfortunately LP wouldn't eat it because of the tuna, and BP wouldn't eat it because of the mushrooms. Instead, I turned to the lunchbox builder.

The lunchbox builder, which you can find on the Flora website, is the biggest help for me. While I would love to send my boys to school with home-made pizzas or healthily filled tortillas I know they won't eat them. The lunchbox builder is a huge help because it lets me select just a few things that are all healthy and put them together.

A lunch LP would love is...

Wholemeal bread with grilled chicken (and some hidden tomatoes) with Flora light. Add to that a granola bar and a few breadsticks for snacks, and then a few blueberries (the one fruit LP will eat). A bottle of water to drink and I'd say that's a fairly healthy packed lunch!

As for BP...

Either the wholemeal pitta or a bagel with tuna and sweetcorn, and flora buttery. For snacks I'd go for a flapjack and dried fruit and either grapes or strawberries for fruit. Another great, healthy lunch for my growing boy.

And a mixture of both...

Grilled chicken (coated in nandos rub) in a wholemeal pitta (with Flora light), a banana, 
cherry tomatoes, breadsticks, and a flapjack. 
Add a bottle of water to that and that's a pretty healthy lunch I'd say!

Making lasting changes

Thanks to the Flora study and the lunchbox challenge I have come up with new ideas for my boys' sandwiches. They wouldn't usually eat anything but sliced meat, however we often have sandwiches in the car when visiting family and they love them. What do I put on those sandwiches? Grilled chicken coated in Nandos seasoning. The seasoning isn't full of sugar, it's just herbs and spices, and makes the chicken taste great!

The Flora study has made me more aware of what I'm putting in my sons' lunchboxes and helped me realise I'm not doing them any favours by letting them eat sugary and fatty snacks.

What do your children like in their lunchboxes?

This post is an entry for the #FloraLunchbox Linky Challenge, sponsored by Flora. Check out their lunch planner and recipe ideas here.