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Quick, packed healthy lunches for the whole family – sorted!

In between letting the dog out, dressing the kids and your morning gym session, whipping up a healthy lunches on weekday mornings can become a tricky task, especially when you’re trying to feed the whole family. Here are our top tips and nifty recipes to help keep your family healthy and satisfied, no matter how busy the day ahead.

By Jana du Plessis

1. Back to basics

We suggest going back to the fundamentals of building the perfect lunch box. Every packed lunch should include the following elements: a healthy snack, a balanced lunch meal, some fruit and a wholesome drink – the flavours of the day are up to you!

2. Tutti-frutti

Stock your fruit bowl with apples, banana, oranges or any other fruit you fancy – just make sure they’re not peeled to avoid a mess in a lunch box or backpack and so they’re easy to grab on-the-go. Or give fruit crisps a try for an alternative to fresh fruit.

3. Oat-so-easy

Granola bars are the perfect midday snack. Not only are they filling, but will satisfy the kids’ sweet tooths too. Here is a recipe requiring only four ingredients and 30 minutes to make:

Place 1 cup pitted dates in a food processer and pulse until a paste forms. In a small saucepan, heat ¼ cup nut butter until just heated through and slightly runny. Add the dates, heated nut butter, 1¼ cup toasted oats and 1 cup toasted nuts in a bowl and mix well. (Optional: add in ½ cup raisins, dried fruit or chocolate chips and/or 1 tsp cinnamon, vanilla extract or spice mix). Press the mixture into a lined baking tin and pop into the freezer for 20 minutes, or until set, then slice. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

4. Muffin top

Muffins are not only mess-free and easily transportable, but a wonderful way to sneak some extra fruit and veg into your family’s daily diet. Our bran, carrot and banana muffins are light on sugar, fibre-rich and absolutely delicious. Let your kids help with the measuring and mixing for family bonding time.

5. Pita power

Lunch at school or the office calls for an all-in-one bite that offers maximum flavour and nutrition, with minimal prep. Upgrade the trusty sarmie by filling a wholewheat pita with veggies and a protein of your choice. Shredded chicken, roast veg and hummus is a delicious Mediterranean-inspired option, or go for tuna with avocado and salad for something crunchy and fresh.

6. Big up on batches

Take some of the load off cooking for every meal by doubling your food during dinner prep. Stir-fried veg are great to add to a salad or wrap the following day, and already-cooked meat is perfect to slice up and include in tomorrow’s sarmie. Rice or noodles can also add some yummy sustenance to a bowl of leftover protein and vegetables.

7. Snack attack

When the dreaded chocolate aisle beckons, resist the urge and rather try our apricot energy balls. These delicious protein-packed delights are naturally sweetened with dates and dried apricot, and will keep you and the kids happy until dinnertime.

8. Keep food fun

Besides being short on time, fussy eaters can also make it hard for you to offer your family a nutritious meal for lunch. Try to make food interesting and fun for the kids – for example by sending them off with our cute and yummy ham and pineapple pinwheels. Let them choose the ingredients to fill it with and experiment with different veggies to ensure they munch on a midday vitamin-rich meal.

9. Once-off

Another way to relieve the hassle of daily lunch prep is to prepare a meal that requires only one container. Pasta is always a delicious, easy and affordable option. Make a big batch over the weekend and divide it into individual portions to be enjoyed in the week.

10. Eggs for everyone

Hard-boiled eggs are super easy to include in a lunch box and are a great source of protein to keep a hungry tummy satiated. Boil a bunch at a time and keep them in the fridge for up to a week.

11. Balance is key

When packing your loved ones’ lunches, remember to always include some healthy fats. Avocado, nuts and seeds, or oils, such as olive, coconut or flaxseed are all great ingredients to play with. A wholegrain starch is also a vital component – our favourites starchy suggestions are brown rice, wholewheat bread, wraps or pitas. Lastly, don’t forget your proteins! Chicken breast, egg or yoghurt are all packed with power.

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