Every mother’s morning dilemma — ‘how do I pack a kid’s meal that balances taste and nutrition?’ Here are a few recommendations

‘My child is not eating enough’… ‘The lunchbox comes back the way it was packed’… ‘His friend’s lunchbox is more interesting’ — these are a few common remarks by mothers today. Nowhere else is the adage that parenting is a great leveller truer than in a typical 21st Century Indian household, when every morning a mother walks the tightrope between taste and nutrition.

Moreover, for today’s working woman who negotiates the rigours of work-life balance, this slightly unsettling realisation dawns on her while performing a seemingly unchallenging chore of packing the lunchbox of her pint-sized picky eater. She is faced with this perpetual problem of packing a nutritious lunchbox that must come home empty at the end of the day.

Her staple roti-subzi solution often makes a round-trip back home with the edges nibbled in a feeble attempt at lunching.

Get innovative

Deepening the lunchbox dilemma are her child’s greasy favourites — chips, fries, burgers... Unlike earlier, when mothers packed home-made food for their children, kids these days have become fussy eaters who demand an exciting meal, forcing mothers to ‘think out of the lunchbox’.

This trend is reflected in a recent survey conducted by Quantum, a leading research firm. The survey findings show that parents need to ensure that a wholesome meal with the required amounts of nutrition is provided for their kids at school. Following are a few recommendations to provide the best to your child.

Sliced fruits and veggies are an easy way for mothers to include these as part of their child’s diet. However, given that the lunchbox is opened only in the afternoons and is not refrigerated till then, these become hotbeds of bacteria and germ build-up. Encourage the child to carry fruits such as grapes, bananas, apples etc. that can be eaten easily without having to be cut.

Packed with nutrition

Sliced fruits and veggies can be easily replaced with the convenient alternative of hygienically packed preservative-free juice cartons. This particularly helps if kids have schedules that do not permit them enough time to snack post-school hours. Refreshing, invigorating and providing a concentrated boost of benefits, these juice cartons are full of nutrients and can fit snugly into any lunch box. Rich in Vitamin C, an immunity booster that helps protect one against cough and cold, many of the juices are also fortified with Vitamin A and calcium crucial for growth.

Kids love something new. Therefore, variety is surely welcome. Needless to say, they love tasty, quick and easy-to-eat foods, so they can get out there and play. Veggies wrapped in a roti are sure to find more takers than those packed separately. Fortify the foods that go into the box — adding a little soy flour to paratha / roti; peanuts in poha; light cream cheese instead of mayo in sandwiches; nuts and dry fruits instead of chips…

So the next time you are packing your child’s lunch, be innovative.

The writer is a nutritionist and fitness consultant