One of the things I always saw as a teacher was the effect that lunch could have on afternoon learning, because yes, learning still takes place in the afternoon. Don’t get me wrong, it can have a positive or negative effect. Lots of parents (myself included) pack a healthy lunch, but we often forget that the key factor for determining a kids afternoon teachability can often be protein. So I’ve put together this list of 10 simple protein hits for the lunchbox to help you out.
Why protein? Where carbs give an instant energy hit and so do sugars, it is protein that is going to keep them going to the last bell. Proteins are in the simplest form our brain food. We want those little brains ticking until the bell, so we need to supply them with the best protein we can in the lunchbox.
Don’t think immediately that you need to pack steaks in the lunchbox, this list might surprise you!
- Yoghurt. By buying good quality greek yoghurt (or making you own) you are supplying a good 10 grams of protein for 100 grams of yoghurt. Make sure that the yoghurt has no extra flavourings (often just extra sugar) and you’re set for a good hit of protein!
- Eggs, boiled, and popped into the lunchbox are awesome as you can also make them fun like I did in this Easter lunch or use them as a wrap in like in these sushi style wraps. Eggs have about 5 grams of protein per egg!
- Sushi is a great protein hider. Whether you fill it with tuna, salmon or chicken, you can ensure that the kiddies are getting an extra protein hit.
- Edamame beans contain a lot of protein- 8grams per half cup and are easy to blanch from the freezer and pop into the lunch box. My daughter loves shelling them!
- Quinoa. I know, I know, it’s one of those “superfoods” but it has about 8grams of protein per 1 cup cooked quinoa! So hide it in rice, spring rolls or whatever you can!
- Lentils are a great protein source, so try making them into something fun! These cheesy potato bombs should do the trick!
- Meatballs! It should be obvious, and sometimes the most obvious options are overlooked…so try these for a lunchtime protein hit.
- Chia seeds. These provide an extra protein boost, so add them to breads, cakes and bliss balls for extra protein.
- The humble chicken nugget! Perfect as it is a protein hit, especially when it has cheese in the crumb.
- Chickpeas, roasted and flavoured are the closest you’re going to get to nuts in the lunchbox here, so enjoy!
Hopefully this list will help you to pack more protein in your lunchboxes so your kids can pack more learning into their day!