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When the lunch-time bell sounds, excitement swells in our children’s hearts as they head out into the playground and prepare their hungry bellies for something delicious.

As important as making certain they enjoy their snacks is ensuring they receive food that nourishes them and provides sustained energy throughout a long school day. Snacks with ‘empty’ calories – such as crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks – may be convenient, but you’ll be doing your kids no favours by offering them food with so little nutritional value.

These lunchbox tips will help you include a yummy variety of foods that will give them plenty of stamina and help them concentrate in class.

1. Keep it simple

There’s no need for fancy ingredients or complicated masterpieces that take forever to prepare. Focus instead on including simple, healthy and convenient lunch-time wonders that will tempt your kids to finish every last crumb. At the same time…

2. Mix things up

Novelty and visual appeal are very important when it comes to persuading picky eaters to chow down. Get inventive by mixing things up instead of repeating the same lunch box spread day in and day out. Serve a good selection of colourful, bite-sized snacks, and to present them in a creative way.

For example, sandwiches are so appealing cut into dainty triangles, or stamped into shapes with cookie cutters. Instead of bread, how about using wholewheat wraps or mini pita pockets? Another way to introduce novelty is to make a double batch of a kid-friendly dinner the night before, then pop the leftovers into lunch boxes for the morning.

3. Fresh fruit boost

Fresh, brightly coloured and packed with nutrients and fibre, fruit satisfies kids’ cravings for sweet things and supplies instant energy. Try cutting it up into cubes, shapes or thin slices, or providing small snack-sized fruits such as grapes, berries, litchis and cherries. Top tip: thread cubes of fruit onto skewers to create multi-coloured mini-kebabs, and as an instant dip for the kebabs, pop in a tub of NutriDay yoghurt!

4. Crunchy vegetables

Raw veggie sticks and slices are another excellent filling for lunch boxes. Not all kids fancy vegetables, but you might be surprised at how eagerly they’ll eat them if you include a tiny tub with a delicious dip, such as hummus or a healthy yoghurt dip.

5. Protein is important

Some form of protein is an important cornerstone of your child’s lunch box. Hard-boiled eggs are an excellent form of protein, and are conveniently ready-packaged for the kids to enjoy peeling! Other appealing foods containing protein include nuts, cubes of cheese, ham, tuna, biltong, chicken strips, fish fingers, meatballs and of course our delicious NutriDay yoghurt.

At the end of the day, school snacks need to be quick and convenient for you to put together in the morning, but they must also be interesting, tasty and full of natural goodness. Are you up to that challenge, Smart Moms? Tell us on Facebook, or leave a comment below.