I don’t know a parent who hasn’t wondered, “what should I pack them for lunch?” Each childcare centre or family day care provider may have different policies about what is acceptable as far as food goes. Some even have sustainability policies so you may even need to consider what you actually pack your child’s food in e.g. not using plastic wrap, but using re-useable containers. So this blog post will give you a few tips and hints on what food to pack for childcare. Always consider the allergies of other kids and unsafe foods when preparing your child’s lunches. I know this can be a mega pain if your child loves peanut butter sandwiches but imagine you are the mother of the child with the allergies who constantly worries about other children and even coming in contact with a touch of peanut butter on the water bubbler will result in a huge reaction and a hospital visit
Nuts are almost always generally out. Most centres will now have a “nut and egg free” policy in place due to allergies. Some centres also are quite firm on encouraging healthy lunch boxes (which means they discourage sugary and chocolate foods, flavoured milks, cordials, cakes etc) and won’t be shy about telling you what’s in or what’s out. This can be a bit tricky as parents have said their ‘hidden vege’ beetroot chocolate muffin has been given the red flag by their childcare centre. As in all situations where parents are in disagreement with a centre, take the time to discuss your concerns and share you thoughts.
General food ideas for places with no allergy concerns:
A water bottle, healthy snacks such as rice puffs, popcorn – if your centre allows it? Popcorn is a food that you are not allowed in some childcare centres, so check with your provider as they will have a list for you of what’s in and what’s out. Normally they have a guide in their orientation book to help you out. Fruit or cheese and biscuits, yoghurt with oats, pikelets and muffins are great safe snacks.
A water bottle, the generic sandwich or left over dinner from the night before. Depending on your centre they may re-heat your food but make sure you check with them as your child might not be cool with cold spaghetti bolognaise. Try some home made sushi, wraps with cheese, ham, shredded apple and sultanas, tuna mayo and sweetcorn with pasta and Cheesy-mite scrolls or Vege sausage rolls (OMG these are divine and great for parties too)
Fruit, smoothie, rice crackers cheese and vegemite, banana bread, boiled egg. Smoothies and eggs don’t work so well on a hot summers day if your centre does not have a fridge.
*****Handy Tip ******When your child first begins care, the days can seem long for them and they get very tired, practically falling asleep on the way home and not interested in eating their dinner. One child carer suggested a wee power smoothie in the car in their first week to make sure they can get some fuel in before they nodded off. It included, muesli, almond milk and a banana.
Here’s some tips from Mum of two, Tania…
I like to make little pikelets for either morning/afternoon tea. Sweet pikelets I add some mashed banana or fruit puree to and savoury pikelets I like to add some grated zucchini, carrot or cheese. These also freeze well.
Lunch ideas include sushi, antipasto plates (Alice loves a selection of cheese, olives, crackers and rolled up ham), mini quiches or savoury muffins. Please find recipe below:
Easy Mini Quiches
Makes approx. 16 mini
1/2 onion finely chopped
2 tbsp grated cheese
1/2 cup finely grated zucchini and carrot
S & P
3 eggs lightly beaten
(optional- cut up ham)
Lightly fry onion until soft. Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a greased muffin tray. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and put on top of quiches prior to baking. Bake at 180degrees for 20-30 mins or until set.