By Northern Beaches Nutritionist Sue Fisk

I have three school aged children and the end of summer holidays is always a bitter sweet time for me. While I am more than ready to send them back to school, I am not so thrilled about the concept of what to pack in their lunchbox that will actually get eaten.

People think that as a nutritionist I must have wonderfully healthy children that will eat whatever ‘jam packed with wholesome goodness’ treat I put in front of them. If this was the case I would never have had the calling to make a career change to study nutrition. Believe me – I am very used to dealing with fussy children when it comes to food!

So what are the top 3 ideas that I have found helpful in getting my kids to partake in some reasonably healthy food at school?

  1. Think outside the (lunch)box. Not all kids enjoy the standard sandwich at lunch. If you haven’t already, invest in a quality kid size thermos and fill it with left overs from the night before. And don’t forget that a thermos will keep things cold as well as hot so not only can you load them up with wholesome homemade pasta, (brown) fried rice and stir fry but you can also try cold dishes like noodle salad, chicken salad, tuna and brown rice salad or even a smoothie.
  1. Muffins are great. They can fill you up and are great from everything from breakfast to afternoon tea. If you have a recipe you love, try tweaking it. Replace white flour with wholemeal or even coconut flour, cut back on the sugar by at least half or try sugar substitutes such as rice malt syrup or coconut sugar. Try adding grated beetroot, zucchini or carrot for moistness. If your kids are chocolate fiends replace highly processed cocoa for cacao or perhaps just add a handful of good quality dark chocolate bits or cacao nibs. For a savoury fix, fill the muffin cases with frittata mixture – you’d be amazed what goodness kids will eat when its encased in a muffin wrapper.
  1. Dips are great for a snack, preferably with vegetable crudites or even falafels, or can also liven up a dull sandwich. If you have a blender the sky is the limit as to flavour combinations and is another great way to introduce a variety of new foods to a fussy palate. Try tuna and cannellini bean, spinach and avocado, hummus with the addition of zucchini or pumpkin or spiced cauliflower. Add herbs and spices and a little iodised salt for flavour.

So don’t let the idea of a packed lunch send you packing. Try new things, revamp the old and don’t forget to ask your kids for ideas – they may surprise you.

If you need any more ideas for fussy eaters pop in to see Northern Beaches Nutritionist Sue Fisk at the clinic at Transform on a Tuesday or contact Sue here