LETTUCE

by Ed Halmagyi

Instructions

As the school year starts again, parents all over the country are making their ‘New School-Year Resolutions’.

Dining room tables will resound with pledges to have designated homework times every evening. Mothers will insist that there’ll be no TV on weeknights. Fathers will decide that video games shall be a reward for academic success. Kids will agree to keep their bedrooms clean.

And collectively, the family will resolve to serve healthy school lunches every day.

It’s a great way to kick the year off on the right foot.

Until reality sets in!

Now don’t let me rain on your parade, but remember that it was just three weeks ago when you decided to head to the gym every day, and to abstain from grog for a year. On that note, I feel fairly confident that your New Year’s Eve pledges have probably gone about as well as mine!

But while it’s one thing to claim only passing success in own our personal improvement goals, when it comes to the kids the stakes are higher, and the results really matter. That said, there’s a few things you can do to make healthy school eating a whole lot simpler.

To start with, reduce the choices. School lunch isn’t about democracy, it’s about what’s on offer. So shop more rigorously (and never when you’re hungry), and take the time to check the fat and sugar content of packaged foods. In particular, you may be surprised by the high fat content of many savoury snacks, and by the fact that some muesli bars contain more sugar than the average serve of chocolate.

Secondly, everyone needs to be involved. Kids of all ages should have a role in preparing the lunch. It’s been proven many times that kids who have a practical connection to their food take the quality and quantity of what they eat more seriously. In addition, you can’t expect the kids to eat a healthy packed lunch if mum and dad are eating out every day. When everyone takes the same, the argument about fairness disappears.

Find low calorie options, especially using salad ingredients. Lettuce is one of the most nutrient-dense and low-calorie foods available. There heaps of creative ways you can serve it, like delicious tuna salads, chicken sang choi bao, or even wrapped around rice salad for a new take on the dolmade.

Lastly, leave a bit of DIY to the kids. Assembled sandwiches and salads become soggy and unappetising – you wouldn’t like them either. Simply by packing the components separately, you make the experience more enjoyable, and greatly increase the chances of regularly healthy outcomes for your kids.
Chicken sang choi bao

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