Schools - Case study

Immunity boosting lunch ideas for your children

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Winter is a great time to boost your child’s immunity. Along with practicing proper hygiene, eating well is important for protecting your children from germs and sickness.

The most important nutrients for your immune system are zinc, iron, and vitamins A, C, E and B. The best way to get these nutrients is through foods and a balanced diet that offers a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that collectively meet your child’s needs.

Egg, lean meat, beans and seafood are important sources of iron and zinc.
Fill your child’s sandwich with boiled egg, shredded chicken, roast beef, tinned fish or baked beans (you can pack fish or beans separately so that they don’t make the bread soggy).
Some dishes commonly available in the school lunch order menu are good choices too, such as spaghetti bolognese, chicken and vegetables on rice/noodles, beef lasagne, bean salad, or baked beans and cheese toastie.

Vegetables and fruits are good sources of beta-carotene (vitamin A) and C.
Kiwifruit and citrus fruits are rich sources of vitamin C. Because they are in season during winter, these fruits will be cheaper too. Remember to include a piece of these fruit in your child’s lunch box.
Vege up your family meals. For example, grating extra vegetables into meatballs or spaghetti bolognese, adding pumpkin or kumara to mashed potato, using avocado as a spread on toast or including a side of raw vegetables if that is what your child prefers.
Include vegetables as a snack in lunch boxes by cutting them into manageable pieces, e.g. carrot, cucumber or celery sticks, or adding them to a sandwich filing or mixing them in cooked dishes, such as pasta, rice and noodles.

The nutritional goodness in nuts helps support the immune system.
Make nuts your snack for vitamin E and zinc if there are no allergies.
Sprinkle chopped nuts and seeds on your salads and porridge/muesli too.
Remember unsalted and unroasted varieties are best.
Include avocado in your sandwich either as a spread or filling.
If you are a sushi fan, avocado and salmon sushi is a good choice.

B vitamins can not only help the body fight off bacteria and viruses, but they can also help your immune system fight back when your child is unwell.

Aim to include whole grains every day, for example choose wholegrain bread for sandwiches, and whole grain crackers or cereals for snacks.