Ever struggled to piece together a healthy school lunch? Without any of the added nasties? Soulla Chamberlain is here to help. You may remember Soulla from our first ever Day on a Plate segment – in the meantime she’s been busy creating delicious new recipes in her Broth Bar, developing products for Star Anise Wholefoods and creating a whole lot of inspiring meals shared on her Instagram. We are so lucky to be featuring her on the blog today, read on to find her tips on how to create the most holistic nutritious and delicious lunch for kiddies!
Are you faced with the seemingly Groundhog Day decision of what to pack your kids for school lunches? Is it possible to prepare a nutrient-dense, delicious school lunch box that’s completely free of packaging, refined sugar, gluten, seed oils and other processed ingredients in 2-5 minutes flat each morning? You bet mama! I’ve been doing it for 6 years, I teach people how to do it in my regular school lunchbox workshops, I have written an eBook on it, I regularly blog about it and I post a daily photo on social media of what my 2 chipmunks are taking to school with them that day.
Nothing is more important to me than raising vibrantly healthy, happy and robust children. Inspiring others to join me on this journey is my mission. This all came about when I was asked by a fellow school mum several years ago “If you don’t feed your kids processed foods and you’ve stripped back grains, then what on earth do you put in their lunch boxes?”
This question struck me like a lightening bolt. Um, just real food. Thanks to 50 years of mainstream dietetics and slick clever marketing by food giants it appears that refined grains, processed and packaged foods, juices, milk-like drinks and sugar-hidden snacks are so ubiquitous that they comprehensively encapsulate what we now think of as food and ergo what goes into our kids’ lunchboxes. As a society, we have completely lost touch with real food: nutrient-dense whole unprocessed foods, ethically sourced and traditionally prepared, being the very food that served and nourished us for millennia. But somewhere along the line we took a detour. The result is an explosion in chronic childhood illnesses, allergies and degenerative diseases, never seen before in our pre-industrialised ancestors.
While numerous lifestyle factors profoundly impact our childrens’ health, the most powerful and easiest place to start is with nutritious homemade food. When children are given the very food that they are biologically designed to eat, they can grow and function properly, perform their best, and reach their true potential! At the end of the day, that’s what all parents want for their children. Children (just like adults) find it harder to be happy when they are not healthy. Without good health, life is a struggle.
Ok, so what constitutes a healthy school lunchbox?
In keeping with my nutritional philosophy, I believe it is important that school lunches be:
relative newcomers to the human diet and we do not respond well to them especially in large amounts).
So putting this into practice…
Step 1: Ditch all processed food!
If it comes in a bag or a box, don’t buy it in the first place…. or scrutinise the ingredients to ensure that they don’t contain sugar, gluten, industrial seed oils or other artificial ingredients. The old saying is that “If something needs to be advertised it’s probably not real food”. From an environmental point of view, eschewing all packaged foods means zero waste (and more money in your pocket)! Make your house the high water mark when it comes to nutrition. Don’t buy things that you don’t want your children to consume. There are enough opportunities to ‘fall off the band wagon’ outside the house.
Step 2: Base your childrens’ lunchboxes on real, fresh, nutritious, whole foods:
These foundational foods will give our children the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats that they need to play, learn, concentrate and build strong natural immunity. In addition, a well-balanced lunch box of carbohydrates, protein and fats will enable our children to get through the day with stable moods and happy dispositions feeling satiated and full, with no dips in energy.
My basic go-to formula for morning tea is:
Fruit teamed with a quality fat/protein source eg cheese, yogurt, cream, preservative-free cured meats (my favourite brand of cured meats is Bundarra Birkshires).
My basic go-to formula for lunch is:
Vegetables (either as crudités or as a salad) teamed with a quality fat/protein source eg left over meat, prosciutto, biltong, ham, cheese. If I’m using the compartmentalized lunch boxes divided into quarters then ¾ are taken up with vegetables and ¼ is the fat/protein source. Sometimes lunch is a thermos filled with a hot broth-based soup or left over meat and veg casserole (especially on chilly days).
The above takes the whole of 2-5 minutes to throw together. Seriously, I get my clients to time me during my lunch box workshops.
See my Nutrient-Dense Wholefoods Lunch Box suggestions at the end for loads of more specific ideas on what to pack for morning tea and lunch.
Step 3: Be prepared! From the day/night before have a think about what they will take for lunch the following day to give yourself time to buy anything required.
At a minimum ensure that you have the following items in your fridge/pantry daily so you don’t get caught out:
If you can prepare it the night before then do so! E.g. spoon yogurt into a thermos container and dust with raw cacao powder, cinnamon powder and vanilla bean powder. You can quickly add fresh fruit to it in the following morning. I prefer to cut fruit and veggies fresh rather than the day before.
Equipment To Have On Hand
Read one of my blogs here to find out where to purchase these.
Nutrient-Dense Wholefood Lunchbox Suggestions
Any one or more of the following quality animal protein/fat source eg:
Kitchen Tip! Add a squeeze of lemon juice to cut apples, pears, avocado and smoked salmon to prevent them from oxidizing (going brown).
Stainless steel bottles filled with water (preferably filtered) with a pinch of unrefined salt. No juices, sports drinks, cordials or soft drinks. Apple juice is particularly damaging due to Sorbitol (a sugar-alcohol in apple juice), which is difficult to digest. Studies have linked failure to thrive in children with diets high in apple juice.
I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
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