Variety key to school lunches

Summer fruits a good place to start

SELINA POWELL
Last updated 13:18 06/02/2013
06-UHL-Lunchescropped.jpg
SELINA POWELL
Lunch time: St Joseph’s School pupils, from left, Jordan Nathan-Russell, 5, and Charlie Rau, 5, Erin Gemmell, 8, and Lamai Mataiti, 8. A mix of fruit, sandwiches, nuts, biscuits and chips form the midday meal of a group of St Joseph's pupils. The four primary school pupils say that their mums are the ones that make their lunches, although Erin says her dad will occasionally make her lunch if her mother is busy.

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As the school term kicks off, a nutritionist is encouraging Upper Hutt parents to stock up on fruit and vegetables and spend less time in the snack aisles when shopping for school lunches.

Nutritionist Bronwen Anderson said that snack foods such as chips and biscuits did not offer value for money.

"The processed foods - they're not cheap for what you get in your dollar."

She suggested spending up on healthier options and noted that summer fruits were a good place to start.

Mrs Anderson said keeping lunches varied was important for getting children to eat food that was better for them.

"That way it doesn't come home in the lunch bag."

Pak 'n Save owner Michael Kelly, who has 30 years of experience working in supermarkets, said that there had been a shift away from homemade school lunches to processed foods since he first started in the industry.

Mr Kelly said that there was a more limited range of chips and biscuits when he began work, and soft drink was only for special occasions.

He now sees children come into the supermarket early in the morning to buy soft drink before school.

Like Mrs Anderson, Mr Kelly did not think that healthy foods were too expensive.

"If you look at how much a banana costs compared with a muesli bar, you'll work out which one is cheaper."

HEALTHY SCHOOL LUNCH OPTIONS

Diced fruit on skewers with sharp pieces cut off. Carrots or green beans and a small tub of dip or hummus. Leftover patties from the barbecue with salad in wholemeal buns. English muffin halves with tomato puree, capsicum, ham and cheese slotted under the grill for five minutes.

A frozen water bottle next to the lunch bag to keep food cool.

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- Upper Hutt Leader

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