lockdown lunch ideas for child nutrition

Child Nutrition: Healthy lunches for Lockdown

Child nutrition is something every parent should be aware of. Children need loads of nutrients to feed their developing minds and bodies. Some parents choose to give their kids supplements and vitamins, which is wonderful, but most of your child’s nutrients will come from the food that he or she eats. 

In the lockdown, getting to the shops is pretty difficult. Yes, you are well within your rights to go and buy your essential items, but with the long queues and other red tape, it is best to get as much as you can in as few trips as possible. 

In order to feed your family nutritiously within this period, there are a few essential items that should go on your essential shopping list. 

Foods that are great for child nutrition

Rice

Besides being filling, rice is crammed with B vitamins (including thiamine, niacin and riboflavine) and iron. Rice is also an excellent source of manganese and magnesium. Brown rice contains more vitamins than white rice. 

Rice is a very affordable food, and can feed many at one sitting. A cup of rice can feed up to four people and feed them well. 

A 5-kilogram bag of rice costs around R50 and can last you a very long time. 

Rice is also versatile. Serve it as a side dish to any curry or stew, or make it the star of the show. Savoury rice is a favourite among older kids. All you need to do is sauté an onion, add some frozen peas (or veggies of your choice) and some spice for rice (most popular in SA is Aromat!) and voila, a whole meal for lunch or supper. 

If you are feeling extra fancy, rice can also be made into a sweet treat. 

Rice pudding is a dessert made from rice mixed with water or milk and other ingredients such as cinnamon and raisins – all of which are high in fibre and calcium and great for your kids. Calcium will make their bones strong while the raisins will keep their tummies regular. Variants of rice pudding are used for either desserts or dinners. The kids will enjoy it because it’s sweet and has been likened to the taste of custard or milk tart.

Potatoes

Potatoes are a great source of potassium. They are affordable and much like rice; one potato can go a long way. There are many ways to serve a potato, but we all know how most kids prefer them; hot chips!

Now, when people hear hot chips, they assume that it is unhealthy, but there are many ways to make this delicious snack. 

If you do prefer to deep fry them, using heart friendly canola oil should be just fine. Wash the potatoes and cut them up into the shapes your kids prefer. Then, rinse off any starch and soak them in water for 30 minutes. 

Heat the oil on the stove (use the back burner, so that the younger kids can’t reach the hot pot). Pat the potatoes dry before throwing them in the oil (this allows for the outside layer to crisp up nicely. 

Fry until golden brown and soft and fluffy on the inside; for approximately 10 minutes per batch on high heat. 

Alternatively, grease an oven baking sheet and after you have dried the soaked potato chips, toss them in some olive oil and spread them out on the sheet. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 40 minutes. Pop them out and shake them loose, turn the chips around and put them back in for a few more minutes, until the chips are golden brown. 

Serve to the kids with tomato sauce. 

A little known fact about tomato sauce is that it is packed with nutrients, is affordable and is high in fibre. 

Tomato sauce

A cup of tomato sauce contains as much as 6 grams of fibre. While fibre varies from brand to brand and style to style, chunky tomato sauces contain more fibre than strained sauces, Livestrong explains. 

Besides aiding your child’s digestion, fibre also helps control blood sugar levels and may lower levels of blood cholesterol. Tomato sauce combines well with whole-wheat pasta or vegetable-laden pizza to get extra fibre into your kid’s daily diet.

Also, kids love tomato sauce as a dip for many child-orientated snacks like chicken nuggets, fish fingers and boiled eggs (all great things to make for them for lunch). 

Bread

A good old sandwich is a fine thing to serve for lunch. If you want to save some cash while keeping lunch nutritious and easy, invest in some tubes of peanut butter, jam and cheese spread. This way, whenever someone says “I’m hungry” between meals, you have a quick, fairly healthy solution. 

Peanut butter 

Peanut butter is delicious and is also a good source of magnesium. It is a relatively low-carbohydrate food that contains good amounts of fats and protein, as well as some fibre, says Medical News Today. Peanuts and peanut butter contain nutrients that may boost a person’s heart health and improve blood sugar levels. So, if you are teaching your kids some school work during the lockdown, a peanut butter snack at midday will do you both good and keep your energy levels up.

Pasta

Another affordable and easy meal is any type of pasta. Screws, macaroni, spaghetti, they are all child pleasers. Just add an easy cheese or tomato sauce and heat it up and you’ve got a whole snack.

Pasta is also low in sodium and virtually cholesterol free. Pasta is a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates like pasta provide glucose, the crucial fuel for your child’s brain and muscles.

Fresh fruit

Well, we added this one to say that it may not be as easy to access fresh produce during the lockdown. Also, fresh produce will wither over time, so anything you buy will probably expire; making it better to buy dried or tinned produce for now. But, there may be a few hacks to making some fruits last. 

Buy bananas when they are green and allow them to ripen in your fruit bowl. Oranges also keep for quite long compared to other fresh fruit. Buy avocados that are still hard and eat them as they ripen. 

Keep apples and pears refrigerated to extend their shelf life. 

Kids love snacking on fruit. You can buy frozen berries if your kid loves the occasional smoothie. 

Child Nutrition Services

The Medical Society offers child nutrition consultations and advice on child nutrition, including breastfeeding, is offered at all facilities. The medical facilities offer a growth monitoring service, which includes checking the weight and height by age range and includes comparisons with developmental milestones against age.

Operating in partnership with strategically located centres, The Medical Society is able to service thousands of people in need of primary medical care, every day.

Cover for children starts at R69 a month.

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