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Lunchbox Tips to Help You Reach 5-a-day

Thursday, 19 January 2017
My family take packed lunches to work and school almost every day.  It can be a challenge to get some of their 5 a day into packed lunches, particularly school lunches, as bananas tend to get bruised and squished and so do other soft fruits.  And it can be difficult to keep cut fruit and vegetables fresh until lunchtime.

Tropicana conducted consumer research with found that:

72% of Brits think it’s harder to be healthy when having lunch on the go.  

Lunch is one of the meals least likely to include any of our five-a-day, second only to breakfast.  

For more than one in four (27%), lunch is the least likely meal to include any of our five-a-day.

Thankfully none of my family are particularly picky when it comes to eating fruit and vegetables, if yours are then there are tips and tricks which may help:

Variety is the key
Kids love bright colours, so why not try making a rainbow in their lunchboxes with lots of different coloured fruit and vegetables. This is a really fun way to incorporate a variety of fruit and vegetables into one meal and will help to keep things interesting. It also means they will be consuming lots of different nutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals), contributing to a healthy balanced diet.

Get the whole family involved

Get the family on board and make little ones feel valued and important, by including them in meal planning and shopping. It’s a great way to teach good habits as well as give them part ownership of what goes inside their lunch box. Children are more likely to enjoy trying foods they have been involved in choosing, which will also help to prevent waste.

Sandwiches and Salads
You can add a variety of vegetables to sandwiches, and fruit to salads, to keep lunchboxes interesting.  Why not brainstorm sandwich fillings and experiment with new lunchbox salads on the weekend, and get children involved in helping prepare them.  My children enjoy Mixed Vegetable, Halloumi and Chickpea Salad, Storecupboard Salad or Super Quick Chickpea and Couscous Salad.  We've even included homemade vegetarian sushi in packed lunches which was very popular with my children and their friends alike.

Make fruit and vegetables fun

Whether it’s drawing a smiley face on a banana skin or providing a mixed pot of bite-sized fruit to challenge children to create a smiley face or animal using the fruit (80g of mixed fruit pieces counts towards your 5-a-day) – lunchtime needn’t be dull! Both children and adults alike enjoy bite-sized fruit and veg - it’s less messy and more convenient. Why not try pre-chopping some fruit and veg a few nights a week to keep in air-tight containers in the fridge (keep for approx. 2 days depending on the type) for an easy way to pop an extra hit of the family’s 5-a-day into the lunch box.

Try leftovers in a flask for older children and grownups
There are so many delicious soups, and leftovers from dinner the night before that can be heated up the next morning and kept warm in a flask for a delicious, warming, and filling lunch.  My older children particularly like Root Vegetable and Red Lentil Dhal or Quick Vegetable Tagine with Couscous.

Put fruit and vegetables into baking
My family enjoy Vegetable and Cheese Bites or Oven Baked Vegetable Crisps in packed lunches, or a piece of 5 A Day Cake or a Wholemeal ABC Muffin as a treat.

Floating fruit

To create a fun and tasty way to get more fruit, experiment with adding fruit to jelly. As well as providing nutrients, fruit also contributes to your fluid and fibre intake.  Make sugar-free jelly, and add an 80g portion of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mandarin segments, or other chopped fruit, before it sets. 

Fruit juice counts as one of your 5 a day
The Department of Health counts 150ml of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice as one of your 5 a day portions of fruits and vegetables. Because juices contain less fibre than whole fruit, 100% juice can only count as one portion. 

Tropicana have launched compact 150ml Tropicana Little Bottles which are a great way to get 1 of your 5-a-day. Available in two classic flavours, Pressed Apple and Smooth Orange, the hydrating new Little Bottles range offers an oh-so-easy way to brighten up lunchboxes and are packed with vitamin C - Try Smooth Orange for a great source of potassium and folate.  Make sure you keep the juice chilled when on the go.

What are your tips and tricks for getting some of your 5 a day into packed lunches?

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