7 Healthy, Tasty And Nutritious Ideas For Kids Lunch Box
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This article is a part of Slurrp’s Back To School series, where we provide all the tips, recipes and guidance parents need to ensure that children resuming school this year get all the food and nutrition they need and deserve.

Summer vacations are a fun time for kids, isn’t it? From visiting summer camps to taking family vacations to visiting grandparents, this amazing time of the year is crucial for child development. But so, and you know this just as well as a parent or guardian, is proper nutrition during summertime. As schools reopen at the end of summer vacations, proper educational as well as nutritional routines must be maintained to ensure that school-aged kids in India have every opportunity to grow properly with all the support they need.  

According to the Cleveland Clinic, every child needs a balanced and vibrant diet to be able to thrive. The UK’s National Health Service says that while children’s bodies can metabolize food very fast especially if they are active, keeping an eye on their intake of sugar, starch, fats and processed food is very important in an age when junk food is very easily available. The NHS also recommends that you introduce a lot of variety to kids’ meals and inspire them to try new foods that are seasonal and healthy. 

When it comes to the healthiest foods for school-age kids, it's important to focus on providing a balanced and nutritious diet that supports their growth and development. This means the kids must have sizeable portions of the following key categories of nutrition.  

Video Credit: YouTube/Kabita's Kitchen

Fruits and Vegetables: Encourage your child to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. These provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Offer fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks or incorporate them into meals. 

Whole Grains: Opt for whole grain options such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta, and oatmeal. Whole grains provide more fiber and nutrients compared to refined grains. 

Lean Proteins: Include lean protein sources in your child's diet, such as skinless poultry, fish, beans, lentils, eggs, and tofu. Protein is important for growth and development. 

Dairy or Dairy Alternatives: Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products like milk, curd, paneer, and cheese, or provide dairy alternatives like fortified almond or soy milk for children with lactose intolerance or dietary preferences. 

Nuts and Seeds: Offer a variety of nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. They are rich in healthy fats, protein, and fiber. However, be mindful of any allergies and age-appropriate serving sizes. 

Healthy Fats: Incorporate healthy fats into your child's diet through sources like avocados, olive oil, nut butter, and fatty fish (e.g., salmon and sardines). These provide essential nutrients and support brain health. 

Water and Hydration: This is critical during summers. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Limit sugary drinks like soda and fruit juices, which can contribute to excessive calorie intake. 

As an Indian parent or guardian, you will certainly have plenty of food options for your children’s lunch boxes as schools reopen. Here are some nutritious and wholesome lunch ideas for school-aged children’s tiffin boxes that properly include the above-mentioned nutritional categories. 

Vegetable Paratha Rolls 

You can of course give your kids traditional aloo parathas and dal parathas because they are nutritious as well as filling, but paratha rolls provide more opportunities to stuff veggies into their lunches. Prepare whole wheat parathas stuffed with a variety of finely chopped vegetables like carrots, spinach, bell peppers, and paneer. Pack a homemade pickle made of raw mangoes instead of shop-bought dips and sauces. 

Vegetable Biryani 

Prepare a flavorful vegetable biryani using basmati rice, mixed vegetables like cauliflowers, carrots, beans, peas, and potatoes, along with aromatic spices like cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. You can also add a handful of chickpeas, kidney beans, masoor dal, moong dal, paneer or soy chunks for added protein. Serve it with a side of raita and a few dried apricots or raisins for natural sweetness. 

Soya Pulao 

This one is very easy to make and can be flavoured with dry fruits and nuts as well. Make a nutritious pulao using brown rice or basmati rice with a mix of colorful vegetables like peas, carrots, beans, and corn. You can also add some paneer or tofu for protein. Pack it with a side of raita and a handful of almonds or cashews. 

Veggie Pasta Salad 

Pasta is always a winner with kids. Cook whole wheat pasta and toss it with a variety of colorful veggies like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and steamed broccoli. Add a homemade dressing using olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs. Include a serving of fresh fruit like sliced apples or grapes. 

Sprouts Chaat 

Sprouts are packed with nutrients and can be easily turned into a chatpata lunch for kids. Make a salad using a mix of sprouted moong beans, chickpeas, and any other sprouts you like. Add finely chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumber, and coriander leaves. Season with chaat masala or lemon juice for extra flavor. Pack with a small portion of whole grain crackers or roasted peanuts. 

Vegetable Upma 

Whether you are a working parent or not, making a loaded veg upma is a quick and easy solution to lunch needs. Prepare upma using semolina and a mix of vegetables like peas, carrots, beans, and capsicum. You can add cashews, soy chunks, paneer bits, chickpeas or peanuts for crunch and protein. Include a small portion of coconut chutney or a side of curd. 

Whole Wheat Sandwiches 

If you are creative enough, you can whip up a variety of healthy sandwiches for lunch every day. Make sandwiches using whole wheat bread and fill them with healthy ingredients like thinly sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, grated carrots, and mashed avocado or paneer. You can also include a slice of cheese or boiled egg for added protein.  

Summertime is far from over, so remember that your child needs all the best sources of hydration to stay fit and healthy for school. So, remember to include a bottle of water or a healthy beverage like homemade fruit juice or buttermilk with each lunch box.