Toddler Lunch box Ideas For A Toddler-Sized Challenge

Having worked in a school in the past, it was astonishing to see the difference in the sizes of what the kids brought in for packed lunch. I remember saying at the time that there needs to be some more information giving clear examples of what is a suitable portion size. The parents were getting the healthy message (the majority were at least) but there were a few children who came in with more food than an average adult could eat in one sitting.

I guess I wasn’t alone in thinking that there was a gap in information as the Infant & Toddler Forum launched the #rethinktoddlerportionsizes campaign to help raise awareness of it’s not just what we put on toddlers’ plates it’s also how much last year.

I not alone in thinking that there should be a clearer message that it's not just what we put in a toddlers’ lunch box it’s also how much

And they’re back with a challenge for parents, grandparents and guardians to see how can you take all the ITF’s guidance and make it PRACTICAL and easy for all parents to follow every day at every meal?

Curious? Why not visit Toddler Sized Challenge to find out more, join in and share, comment, vote and have the chance to win £1000 and two £500 runners-up prizes as well as spot cash prizes of £100 for commenting and engaging.

a toddler lunch box meal planner for the Toddler sized challenge

I’m weighing in with my tuppence and submitted a suggestion to the challenge already. too with some lunch box ideas on how to help parents ensure they’re getting their toddler lunch boxes spot on.

There are some great menu ideas on the website a but I’ve purposed an idea for downloadable sheets of menu planners with suggestions for toddler lunch boxes  Taking inspiration from the Think Toddler Sized website and creating a go to sheet for lunch boxes which can be printed off and placed on your fridge, or saved as a photo of your photo along with a quick read shopping list section of items to buy.

The idea is about simplifying life for parents, grandparents and carers and taking the stress out of thinking what to buy.

Now I’ve shared mine, what’s would your idea to help parents to Think Toddler Sized be? Why not visit the website (links here if you missed it earlier http://bit.ly/ToddlerSizedChallenge ) to see what’s already been suggested and see if you can come up with something new then upload your idea to the website. You’ve got to be in it to win it!

Think about:

  • The 4 different food groups: carbs, protein, dairy and fruit/vegetables
  • How often different types food should be offered every day
  • How much should be on the plate – think toddler portions

a toddler lunch box meal planner for the Toddler sized challenge



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Kid Friendly Overnight Oats

I’m a huge fan of time-saving techniques. Being a super busy mum constantly chasing her tale (and turning up late more often than not) anything which helps me hit the ground running in the morning is soon going to find a place in my busy mum tool kit. I’ve tackled the end of the day, too knackered to cook thing by preempting it with a slow cooker one pot meal, so now its happy days by preparing breakfast the night before with some kid friendly overnight oats.

For anyone new to overnight oats, you really, seriously NEED to give it a go. It’s a little bullet of health and nutrition in one sitting a perfect for anyone wanting to start the day in the best possible way. And more to the point; it’s grab and go breakfast. Plus, given the fact that lots of breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar, this is one way of having a little control over your daily in take. You can add optional extra health boosters but it’s totally up to you how healthy you want it. The main ingredients of oats, yoghurt and honey will be enough to keep them going until break time / snack time though.

If you’re making this for yourself, this is a great grab and go breakfast you can eat at work too.

why not make these kid friendly over night oats to help with the morning rush? They super easy and a really healthy breakfast
Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats

1 1/2 cups of milk (cows, almond or coconut will do it)

1 tbsp of raw cacao (can be substituted with cocoa powder but you won’t get the superfood benefits)

1/2 cup of yoghurt preferably natural but can use a small pot of fromage frais

1tbsp honey or mapel syrup

tps vanilla extract

topping 

handful of blueberries or sliced banana

optional

tsp chai seeds

tsp flax seeds

Method 

combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix

divide between 3 bowls, add the topping if using blueberries but leave the banana to the morning and place in the fridge overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours.

You can always put a few topping choices on the table in the morning to let the kids choose for them selves

why not make these kid friendly over night oats to help with the morning rush? They super easy and a really healthy breakfast

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Sneaky ways to get 5 a day in a lunch box

That 5 a day – I’m on it like a car bonnet. I’ve been a bit (a lot) slack with the whole clean and healthy eating thing.  It’s totally, 100 % Christmas’ fault but now he’s left the building I’m joining the rest of the wave of well intentioned by getting back into the ‘my body is a temple’ thing and this time I’m dragging the kids along.

I’ve silenced my ears to the protests of “there’s nothing to eat in this house” (there is, there’s ALWAYS something to eat, even if it’s custard powder Old Mother Hubbard has nothing on me.) One thing which has seriously transpired since I stopped buying biscuits and cakes is just how sugar addicted my boys are. So I’m taking us all cold turkey on the basis that if I don’t buy it, we don’t have and if they’re really as hungry as they’re making out they’ll reach for a good old piece of fruit.

But there’s a but, there’s always a but. When it comes to parenting solo, you have to pick your battles. The whole good cop/bad cop thing doesn’t work. You’re just one or the other  and they’re stuck with it, so for my sanity and to eek out the balance of a happy harmonious house hold. I’m being a little cunning in my mission by introducing some sneaky ways to make sure my kids are getting their 5 a day. And for anyone currently raising or survived raising a teenager, you’ll appreciate my cowards approach.

As for toddler parenting, this is where lunch boxes are worth their weight in gold and with preschool kicking in this week I thought,

“perfect! I’ll share some of my toddler lunch box tips”

 

Keep it colourful and in proportion

Chop up a small apple and chucks of cheese into little  bite sized pieces. add in some blueberries, just a couple of (their)  handfuls will do the job. A portion is equivalent to your child’s hand sized not yours so there’s no need to go ott. The trick here is you’re making it quick, easy and colourful to eat and if it doesn’t look like a huge amount of fruit to get through, they won’t feel overwhelmed by the quantity and refuse to tuck in. You can always add a few more if you’re with them when they’re eating it but the key here is small sizes.

Introduce a Healthy Fruit drink

Yep, you heard it,  a fruit drink like Little bottles by Tropicana . They provide the perfect serving of unsweetened 100% juice to count as one of your 5-a-day. The juice is available in pressed apple or smooth orange and contains 100% pure squeezed fruit in each bottle and there are no added sugars, preservatives or artificial flavours.

simple and sneaky ways to get some of your child's 5 a day with these lunch box ideas

Lunch Box Dips

working on the above idea that hand sized pieces count. pop a small portion of humous in a pot and cut up some carrot and pepper sticks. Again, keeping it small and manageable 3 of each will do so the focus is less on the fruit and vegetable eating and more on the fun with a messy dip which shouldn’t give too much cause for concern

Slip it in a sandwich (or a wrap) 

Or a pitta bread. You’ve got a little bit of everything going on now  but don’t forget the carbs, this will keep your child’s energy levels up. So whatever carbs you go for, a meat of cheese filling with a sliver of cucumber, lettuce leaf or a try good old egg and cress. Just chop it so it’s well and truly hidden, requires minimum eating effort and reduces the possibly of them taking it out.

Don’t feel like you have to go for all 5 a day in one meal time though, there’s always opportunities to top up the remaining 5 a day at family meal times.

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simple and sneaky ways to get some of your child's 5 a day with these lunch box ideas

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Simple Ways For a Healthier Christmas

If there was just one word that could effectively sum up Christmas, it would probably be ‘indulgence’, or maybe ‘excess’ Ok, that’s 2 words, but you get the idea.  During these dark, cold months, we tend to hide away and comfort ourselves & our friends and family  by indulging in gifts, nights out and, especially at this festive time of year,  rich food. Winter would not be the same without comfort food, hot chocolates with lashings of squirty cream are our favourite, and it is almost impossible to resist the array of mince pies and cheese boards that are laid in front of us at every opportunity.

So how can we have a healthier Christmas without denying ourselves these little pleasures throughout the festive season?

The good news is that we don’t, not really. This isn’t about cutting out those treats altogether, that just takes the fun out of the Christmas period. It’s more about being aware of the choices that are out there, and making those choices in a healthy, conscious way. That way, come January, you won’t be kicking yourself for overdosing on the Quality Streets.

some ideas for keeping heathy this ChristmasGetting Your 5 a Day

It’s easy to forget about even the most basic of nutritional requirements during the Christmas period, when sometimes the only piece of fruit we see is the satsuma in our stocking. This is a really easy way to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the festive season and all you need to do is be aware of how much fruit and veg you’re eating. However, unfortunately, parsnips roasted in goose fat don’t really count and don’t even try to justify a Terry’s Chocolate Orange! 

Things that do count, are the vegetables which aren’t smothered in butter or fat. So don’t pass on the carrots and sprouts, If you’re in charge of the cooking, you could even change your ingredients slightly to include healthier oils such as olive and coconut. This is also an excellent opportunity to get a good blender and make special Christmas smoothies for all the family. A brilliant breakfast treat, they’ll ensure that you’re still getting your vitamins throughout the festive season. Or even cook up some soups with the left overs, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a turkey and vegetable soup bubbling away on the stove come boxing day. 

Getting Out and About

With all of the stresses of the Christmas period, it’s easy to forget to take time for a bit of exercise, even if this just means a family walk. Breathing in the fresh winter air with make you feel healthier in both mind and body, and taking the time to do something active will set you up for a healthier New Year as well as kicking in those endorphins. Even if you can’t persuade your family to go out in the cold, it’s an excellent way for you to spend a spare half an hour. (It’s also a great de stress tactic if you’re feeling a little tense being with the in-laws for too long.)

If you’re trying to maintain a fitness routine throughout the festive season, it can be much easier said than done. Promises to go for a run or a bike ride are easily swept away by the freezing winds or the promise of your favourite Christmas film, leaving you feeling disappointed that you didn’t manage to keep up your routine. If you need a gentle reminder to go for that run or complete that exercise video, try installing a fitness app that will send you alerts when you need to get ready. It’s much easier to excuse yourself from a family gathering when your phone is literally telling you to. Maybe even challenge other family members who use a fitness tracker to see who can pack in the most steps. It’s a great conversation starter. 

some ideas for keeping heathy this Christm

Getting Some Me Time

One of the things that gets in the way of our health at Christmas time is the feeling that we have so much to do that we can’t possibly take any time out for ourselves. We have a stupidly long list of things to do before guests arrive and family members are always asking us to help them with one thing or another, but it is actually essential that we take a little bit of time for ourselves. Schedule in half an hour every day when you can retreat from the Christmas chaos and focus only on yourself.

How you use your ‘me time’ is entirely up to you, and you don’t necessarily need to do anything at all except make sure you take it. You might do some exercise, you might write in a journal or you might watch your favourite program. If you’re struggling to cope with stress, I use Headspace, a meditation app, which encourages you to sit for just ten minutes everyday and check in with your thoughts.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, so make sure you take the time to de-stress and unwind during this hectic time of year.

The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to make healthy decisions in other areas of life.

some ideas for keeping heathy this Christmas

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I know I Need Time To Unwind, It’s just….

I’m a bugger for not switching off and relaxing these days, and I doubt I’m alone. With 3 kids and a business to run there’s actually very little time spare to schedule in some time to unwind. But I should, in fact scrap that, I must. Should isn’t even an option. I’ve burnt the candles at both ends for the last couple of years, kept my eye off the ball and juggled too many plates, paying the price rather heavily.

So, I’ve been racking my brains about how to make a change. Looking after number one is more important than ever now. And don’t think for one moment that having some downtime as a busy mum,  dad or any one for that matter is selfish, as without that time to recharge, you’re good for no one.

It’s really okay to charge up your battery because if you don’t you will run out of energy and power.
Dyea Smith, Failure Is Fuel

I’ve decided, it’s time for a change. a fresh start, a new me, an ORGANISED ME! I’m going to plan my day, be disciplined and make sure I’ve had some time in the day to unwind. Think of it as being an electric car which needs plunging in ready for it’s next journey. Yep, that’s right I’m comparing myself to a Nissan Leaf if you need an analogy. Which is a little pants really as I’d rather see myself as a sleek, classy Merc.

So what does a lady do these days to unwind? Ordinarily I’d have surfed the web, faffed around on Facebook and window shopped on eBay. But my unwind goal now, with my working day revolving around the PC, is to avoid the lure of the web. To switch off mentally & digitally.

And that’s chuffin’ nigh on impossible for a technology loving lady like yours truly.

Which leaves me with the following options; read a book, take up knitting or meditate.

Mmmmmmm.

And here’s the tricky part. When I read a book I get fully absorbed, I live breathe and dream the characters (one of the reasons I never read the 50 Shades Trilogy!) I tend to see it through, start to finish in a couple of days. Hence I’ve not indulged since the toddler’s arrival.

And knitting, tried it, made a Barbie scarf and gave up. My practical mind just told me to pop along to Primark and buy the knit wear I so desired, for a fraction of the cost of a ball of wool.

Which leaves meditating; does looking out of my bedroom window, coffee in hand,  admiring the trees blowing in the wind count? It’s really relaxing, honest.  I’m also quite good at imagining up scenarios where a tall, dark, handsome man comes to my rescue while I struggle in numerous damsel in distress situations. Is that mediating? It’s a happy place I visit in my head sometimes so surely that counts?

Ok so the results are in. Unless it involves mindless internet usage, I’m crap at unwinding. But ……. in todays modern,technology fuelled generation, I’ll say that’s allowed. I’m not working, I’m relaxed and I’m unwinding.

And I’m not stressing over a ball of wool, while sitting in the locus position with a book on my lap.

How do you unwind? Why not share your thoughts in this Survey by Rattan Direct to be part of a bigger picture on how people do it these days.

you should always make time to relax, here's why;

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