Have you, as a parent, prepared lunchboxes for your children and then got to work and realised you have nothing to eat yourself?
You will now have to spend money buying lunch? Or go to the work canteen and buy lunch? What if you have allergies and there’s little choice for you? Or there are no snacks suitable for someone with your intolerances?
We’re considering this ahead of National Working Parents Day on Wednesday September 16th – a day to celebrate parents who work hard to provide for their family.
Parental responsibilities are all encompassing, and these days, with the financial pressures and costs of living, possibly more than in the past decades. Most parents have to work to pay the bills.
A study by the Office for National Statistics in 2019, found three in four mothers with dependent children, (75.1%,) were in work. Compared with 92.6% of fathers with dependent children.
The number of mothers in the labour market has grown substantially over the last 20 years, with 66.2% of mothers in employment in 2000.
What happens when children go back to school?
After months of having children at home, they are going back to school, nursery, or whatever institution they attend for their education.
Catering for the family hasn’t been so difficult, because many working adults have also been working from home. Suddenly however, everyone is leaving the house in the morning for either work or school.
Preparing food for lunchboxes usually falls to one parent. For most people this will be a small adjustment back to how life was before lockdown.
However, if your child has developed, or already has food allergies, preparing food for lunchboxes can be a daily worry.
With this in mind – it’s easy to forget yourself as the parent!
Problems with food restrictions
One of the hardest things to cope with as a parent with children suffering from food allergies, is coping with the food restrictions.
A negative can be that it is easy to fall into the trap of choosing the foods you know are safe and free from the allergens that put your child at risk. This saves you time, saves you angst however it’s often really BORING for your child. Who wants cucumber sandwiches every day for a whole term?
Research carried out in Italy found that children eating limited diets had huge impacts on both their social lives and that of their families. Parents were nervous about eating out, shopping trips, travelling, and even allowing children to go to parties.
Also, eating a monotonous diet can impact on health, if the broad range of food types aren’t being eaten.
So if you eat what your child eats for lunch – if you prepare your lunchbox in tandem – even if you don’t have allergies, this will help you and them bring variety and interest to both of your lunchboxes.
Tips to help prepare interesting lunch boxes for parents and children to save time
- Ensure balanced meals: (See blog of August 31st, ‘Lunchboxes’ for a list of healthy foods (Ellie add the link)
- Start cooking with alternative food products. Research where you can buy them locally, or online or look at some of our superfood products to support your cooking (put in link).
- Try out new recipes at weekends, include the children in the cooking. There are many sources for recipes online for people with food allergies. Experiment with meals that would work well in a lunchbox. For this you could look at our baking mixes – what about cornbread for example?
- Batch cook meals that become firm favourites. Get the children involved in making the choices. Don’t use them every day though – maybe enough for a month and that dish once a week?
- Batch prepare vegetables and fruits when you get your shopping each week. Keep in the fridge, ready to put into the lunch boxes. Weigh out portions into bags for different days of the week.
- Write a plan for the week, so you can prepare in advance, at the weekend.
- Always have a stash of safe snacks in the cupboard. There are many free-from snacks available that can be taken as treats. Of course ours are the best (we’re bound to say that!)
- If you both eat the same things you know you’ll avoid cross contamination when preparing food!