How much to include in a lunchbox
It is helpful to aim for 5-6 meals a day for your toddler –3 “main meals” with 2-3 snacks (bearing in mind that even the “main meals” might have to be small portions). If your toddler is at school for the morning, then you can pack enough for one small mid-morning meal (see suggestions above). If you need to leave your toddler for aftercare in the afternoons, then adjust your lunchboxes to three small meals (mid-morning snack, lunchtime, and afternoon snack).
Building a lunchbox for South African schools
One of the biggest challenges when putting together a healthy lunchbox is, of course, the inevitable comparison it will receive to other toddler’s lunchboxes. Just one toddler with a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar can make your apple and cheese slices decidedly disagreeable. Many South African schools are circumnavigating these obstacles by forming certain rules about what can and cannot be included in lunchboxes. It is also common for allergens to be banned from lunchboxes if a classmate has allergies – especially fish and nuts. Make sure to check if any of these rules exist before going on a shopping spree for a year’s supply of tuna that may never be used!
A lot of preschools also take the pressure off moms by serving their own snacks mid-morning. Make sure to check what your little one is getting to eat at school – you may not be able to have any influence over this, but you can adjust their food at home to ensure that their overall intake every day is balanced.