Here’s how to get schoolkids to eat a nutritious meal.

Did you know that more than one third of a kid’s calorie intake for the day is supposed to be their lunch? The ideal calorie intake should be between 1250 and 1500 calories for a child that weighs around 15 to 20 kg.

Five must-haves in a kid’s lunchbox:

1. Cereal: Bread, wheat products to give the necessary carbohydrates.

2. Milk Products: Cheese, cream to give necessary vitamins, proteins and fat.

3. Vegetables: Tomatoes, cucumbers, green veggies , carrots.

4. Daily proteins: eggs, sprouts.

5. Fruits: For necessary minerals and vitamins.

The problem arises when one has to get the kids to eat a nutritious meal without exchanging their ‘dabba’ with their friends. Here’s how to do it. Implement the coloured lunchbox system: different coloured treats for different days.

Caution: You may just have to prepare extra for his/her friends!

White Lunchbox

Buttered rice with veggies and mashed potatoes: Veggies in the rice, cream in the potatoes

Recipe: Soak one cup of rice for a few minutes. Then add two cups of water, diced onions, capsicum, carrots and peas, two big tablespoons of butter and salt to taste. Bring it to a boil and cook until the water is all absorbed by the rice.

For mashed potatoes, dice potatoes and boil with enough water to cover the potatoes in the pan. Then mash them and add a mix of cream, butter and garlic. Gently fold the mixture in one direction to make it soft.

Drink for the Day: Buttermilk

Yellow Lunchbox

Bread and Eggs: Eggs filled in with mushrooms and tomatoes and bread toasted with butter

Recipe: Beat two eggs with two tablespoons of milk, finely chopped mushrooms, tomatoes and salt to taste. Spread it on a heated pan and flip it once cooked on one side.

Drink for the Day: Apple Juice

Green Lunchbox

Club Sandwich: Different layers filled with cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, chutney, potatoes.

Recipe: Grind coriander, mint, salt and lime juice to make the chutney. Take three slices of bread and cut them into triangular pieces. Apply the chutney to the slices of the bread. Add sliced cucumber, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, cheese slice and salt and pepper to taste.

Drink for the day: Guava Juice

Red Lunchbox

Baked Beans with toast and Grilled Tomatoes: Tomatoes grilled with butter and baked beans to provide the necessary nutrition for the day.

Recipe: Stir the beans, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, and onion in a one-and-a-half-quart microwave-safe dish.

Microwave on HIGH for six minutes. Stir the bean mixture and microwave for two minutes. Let it cool for two minutes and stir before applying it on bread

For grilled tomatoes: Preheat your grill on high heat for direct grilling. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Brush the cut side of the tomatoes with olive oil. Place the tomatoes, cut side down on the grill surface. Cover the grill and let cook for about four minutes. Garnish it with basil leaves and spices.

Drink for the Day: Watermelon Juice

Rainbow Lunchbox

Bread Pizza: Cheese, sauce, veggies like corn, spinach and mushroom with spices

Recipe: Spread tomato ketchup on slices of bread. Add grated cheese and sprinkle finely chopped onions, tomatoes, capsicum, spinach and corn on top. Top this up with more cheese, salt and pepper. Bake in a pre–heated oven at 120° C for five to seven minutes.

Drink for the Day: Mixed Fruit Juice

Dr. Arvind Shenoi is a senior Neonatologist.