The best store-bought chip alternatives for kids lunch boxes
Posted on November 18 2019
A packet of chips is part and parcel to most kids school lunchboxes – but with good health in mind, they’re not the best choice. That’s because packet chips are often high in sodium (which isn’t good news for your little one’s ticker), and they’re also a source of ‘empty calories’. In other words, they contain a lot of energy, but don’t contribute many micronutrients. Of course, the occasional treat is perfectly fine, but it’ll pay to make the switch to healthier alternatives for the day-to-day lunchbox pack. But what exactly is a ‘healthier alternative’? Here’s five dietitian-approved options.
Let’s start with a definite crowd-pleaser – popcorn. Most people are surprised to learn that popcorn is actually a very healthy snack. Here’s why: popcorn is classed as a wholegrain. That means it’s a source of fibre and micronutrients, because it hasn’t been processed to remove the most nutritious layers of the grain. Before you fill your kids lunchbox with the buttery or sugary kind, however, a plain, air-popped variety is your best bet for a healthier snack.
2. Wholegrain crackers
If your kids aren’t into popcorn, another way to get them eating those all-important wholegrains is with savoury crackers. You’re looking for a dense, grainy cracker that’s high in fibre, which will help to keep hunger pangs at bay (read: minimise after school pantry raids!). To pique your littlies interest, pair wholegrain crackers with a yummy dip like hummus or tzatziki, or a slice or two of calcium-rich cheese.
3. Roasted legumes
Your kids won’t believe they’re eating veggies when you serve them a packet of roasted chickpeas or fava beans (it’s probably best to keep that little secret to yourself!). These moreish snacks are a nutrition superstar, offering hunger-busting protein and fibre along with long-lasting energy. Getting your kids onto legumes will do them good in the long term, too, because they’ve been linked to heart health, protection against chronic disease and weight management.
4. Healthy muesli bar
In contrast to what most people think, muesli bars can be a healthy snack for kids – but skip the choc-chip and yoghurt-covered varieties, as these often contain added sugar. A fruit-free bar made with rolled oats is your best bet, or better yet, make your own at home so you know exactly what’s going in it!
5. Nut-free trail mix
Most schools have a nut-free lunchbox policy, but that doesn’t mean your children have to miss out on healthy fats that support their heart and brain. Instead of a handful of nuts, prepare a homemade trail mix using a mixture of seeds like pepitas, sunflower seeds and chia seeds (for a little sweetness, a small amount of dried fruit is okay every now and then). Not only will it boost their intake of satisfying healthy fats, but micronutrients like energising iron and zinc for wound healing.
By Melissa Meier