Budget-conscious lunches for school kids

Healthy lunch box combinations.
Healthy lunch box combinations.

AS the new school year gets under way, Hunter parents are seeking opportunities to save on the cost of school lunches while still packing delicious fare kids love to eat.

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More than 1600 Hunter parents have taken part in the Cancer Council NSW Eat It To Beat It program’s Healthy Lunch Box sessions as part of kindergarten orientation.

The free sessions provide ideas and tips on: quick and easy ways to pack a healthy lunch box; boosting fruit and vegetable content for cancer prevention; and saving money on the weekly grocery shop.

Hunter Nutrition Project Officer Clare Murphy said favouring fresh foods over packaged goods and boosting fruit and vegetable content were easy ways to make lunch boxes budget-friendly.

“Processed snacks are much more expensive per kilogram than fruit and vegetables, so when it comes to packing school lunches, fresh is best,” she said.

A healthy lunch box includes a combination of: breads and cereals; vegetables and salad; fruit; meat and alternatives; dairy; and water.

Healthy lunch box combinations.
Healthy lunch box combinations.

Packing something from each food group gives the lunch box an A-grade.

“A nutrient-rich lunch box gives kids what they need to learn and play all day long,” Miss Murphy said.

“Adding extra vegetables to family dinners is also an ideal way to refuel kids’ bodies ready for school the next day.”

Eat It To Beat It’s free Fruit & Veg Sense workshops to show parents how to make simple, budget-friendly changes to household meals, such as modifying a stir fry recipe to reduce expensive meat ingredients and increase cheaper vegetables.

Healthy lunch box combinations.
Healthy lunch box combinations.

“This simple switch will make the meal better for you and your hip pocket,” Miss Murphy said. Eating more fruit and vegetables was important for good health and cancer prevention.

“A fibre-rich diet including two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day can help prevent one in six bowel cancer cases,” Miss Murphy said.

Healthy lunch box combinations.
Healthy lunch box combinations.

“Eating the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables also reduces your risk of oesophageal, lung and some mouth and throat cancers.”

For free workshop information and bookings, recipes and tips go to eatittobeatit.com.au.

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