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A balanced diet is of utmost importance for a healthy active child. It becomes a challenge for the parents to pack a lunch for school which meets dietary requirements and at the same time interests the child. The purpose of a good packed lunch provided by the parent will be defeated if the child does not eat it. Parents have to put on their thinking caps to ensure that the meals they pack are innovative and liked by the child.

It will be boring to eat the same sandwich or chapatti and vegetable dish every day, especially if it gets cold by lunch time. Invest in an insulated lunch box so that the food remains appetising by the time it is eaten. Vary the vegetable according to the child’s taste. The filling of the sandwich can be changed according to the season and can include tomato, cucumber, olives etc. and dairy products like cheese and cottage cheese the base mixture can be peanut butter, mayonnaise, cream cheese, white sauce etc. Multigrain bread can be used to enhance nutritive value.

Make the food and the lunch box attractive by playing with color. Food color can be added to mundane things like rice to make it more appealing. On festive occasions make a layered rice dish, alternating red and green vegetables with the rice. Pin wheel sandwiches can be made using green pea paste and tomato puree. These will be healthy and look different because of the round shape. Add almonds raisins and other dry fruit to cookies and cakes to make sweet snacks, to add variety to lunch. Use glitter paper to wrap them to add the festive touch.

Fresh fruits and salads can be packed in zip lock bags so that they remain fresh and crunchy. Dressing and light roasted spice powder can be packed separately which will be an incentive to eat the raw food stuff. These can be accompanied by pita bread, pasta or noodles. Children are global citizens now and enjoy a mix of cuisines.

Effort should be made to add food from each group of the food pyramid so that children get into the habit of eating all types of food stuff. This will stand them in good stead all their lives. The food should include grains, pulses, meat, vegetables, fruits, dairy products and a small amount of sweets. These will give proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fats and sugar which will provide sufficient energy to enable the child to study and play.

Add a note to wish the child luck, if he has a test, or to appreciate a helpful gesture. This will gladden the child’s heart and he will look forward to opening his lunch box.