Back to school lunchbox ideas from a working mom

The medical doctor and mom behind the Dr Mom Cooks blog shares some lunchbox tips

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Not only does Philile Mdletshe balance life as a medical doctor, wife, and a kickass mom that prepares lip-smacking meals for her family, she is also a popular food blogger. Who better than the woman behind Dr. Mom Cooks to provide some back to school lunchbox ideas and inspiration?

Depending on the latest craze and what you packed the previous day, our children can be very picky eaters. They may enjoy finding peanuts in their lunchboxes today, but they may not feel the same way about this snack tomorrow. They may view our lunchbox choices as monotonous or even disgusting.

Negotiating the different temperaments of your little ones is part of mommyhood. Finding healthy alternatives and curbing bad habits is every mom’s daily bread (excuse the pun) and it is something I work on daily.

Morning kickstart

I start the day off by heading to the gym at 5am. When I return, I prepare breakfast for my family, while the nannies help the kids get ready for school and I pack their lunchboxes. Most mothers pack lunchboxes overnight, however I prefer doing the lunch preparation in the morning as the meals are guaranteed to be extra fresh.

If it is a meal that needs to be kept warm, like spaghetti and mince, I usually warm it in the morning and store it in thermal flasks to keep warm in time for recess. Always change up the menu daily so that it isn’t boring and the kids can enjoy something interesting each day.

Dr. Mom Cooks creates delicious and healthy lunch box meals for picky eaters.
Dr. Mom Cooks creates delicious and healthy lunch box meals for picky eaters.

Lunch and lifestyle

I am raising my children on healthy food to ensure they maintain healthy lifestyles. When I was pregnant, I was off of sugar and subconsciously affected their eating habits. I always encourage healthy options, and steering clear of sugars is a method I have come to appreciate and trust.

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On weekends, when we usually plan picnics or play with the kids, the snack options are usually as balanced as their lunchboxes with one or two unhealthy exceptions.

I mix up the lunchboxes and ensure that the essential nutrients are represented while avoiding sugar, fatty foods and other unhealthy options. For spoils however, I pack in a treat now and again. For example if we have chocolate cake on the Sunday, I will pack a slice of cake as dessert on Monday. Fortunately, they have learnt not to start with the dessert.

Lunchbox meals

Dr Mom Cooks's favourite options for snacks are baked goods like pretzels or crackers.
Dr Mom Cooks’s favourite options for snacks are baked goods like pretzels or crackers.

My main lunchbox staples are fruit, starch and I always avoid juice. Water or milk are better liquid options as they are hydrating, healthy and low in sugar. The main staples could be anything from meat, vegetables, strawberries and water to a ham and cheese sandwich, peanuts, an apple and a green salad with feta.

Always remember to change up the fruits as well as snacks. Some of my favourite options for snacks are baked goods like pretzels or crackers, as they are low in fat.

I understand that not all households have the means for lavish lunchboxes and I believe that as long as you are ensuring at least one of the items are added, the lunchbox is healthy and we’re making headway. Always be cognisant of substituting unhealthy foods for healthier alternatives at the discretion of your pocket.

Dr Mom Cooks’ tip

Something to remember; always be persistent with checking in on your kids on a daily basis. Ask them when there’s something they haven’t eaten and what they would prefer as an alternative. But don’t stop offering, wait a couple of weeks or so and reintroduce the food item to the lunchbox again.

RECIPE: Beef Wellington with Red Wine Jus

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