There are several cuisine options available for tiffin these days. I conducted a brief survey with a diverse group of parents (across different age groups of kids) to understand different options preferred for school lunches. Some schools require students to carry 2 lunch boxes for short and long breaks. Some schools provide recommendations for standardized menu printed with a few options in a daily diet. The study revealed that some schools allow sandwiches, pasta’s, Chinese, etc. once a week.
The use of all-purpose flour (maida) and in some cases ready to eat meals (packaged food) has amplified in most of the kitchens. There are several options available in the market for types of pasta sauces and Chinese food which are used regularly by many parents as it saves time in the morning, but the nutritional value is compromised. Most of parents choose roti-sabzi for lunch in tiffin; however there are limited choice of vegetables liked by kids. So the question arises on how to make kids eat a variety of vegetables and fruits happily? How do we balance their meals? How do we convince kids to choose healthier options?
Let’s start with breakfast tiffin options as it’s a first meal of the day. Body’s carbohydrate (energy source), protein (building block), fats requirement and micronutrients requirement is very high in the morning. We need to provide a meal which will help enhance nutritive value of that tiffin. Understanding how to make it nutrient-dense is a challenge.
Healthy alternatives for breakfast tiffin include-
- Try to include 1 whole fruit in breakfast tiffin daily this will help to improve focus in the school and addition of fibers will improve digestive system.
- Upma – to make it more interesting add palak puree. Upma will look green. Add carrots, onion, the tomato – upma will look colorful and can be served in different molds too.
- Methi or palak Thepla or plain thepla roll with stuffing of salads and veggies like lettuce, grated carrots with 1 spoon of hung curd.
- Idli chutney – add beetroot paste to the batter or few drops of paste when you put the batter in a tray.
- Idli burger is also a good option you can add veggie patty add, club them together with the help of a toothpick and cherry tomato on top.
- Can give mix flour pancakes with mix grated vegetables.
- Even pasta can serve if you choose whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce or white sauce prepare with wheat flour instead of maida and by avoiding cheese and mayonnaise.
- Sprout bhel or sprout canapes or sprout roll are also few options that can be adapted.
- Use jowar flour, ragi flour combination for vegetable thalipith.
Now let’s discuss the options for lunch. The study shows that even though we have several choices for vegetables, consumption pattern indicates that kids prefer only a limited options such as potato and paneer gravies. Quite a few children consume jam chapati rolls or ghee based chapati rolls. But, these children take a limited amount of vegetables which impact the balance of their meals.
Healthy alternatives for lunch tiffin include-
- Prepare mix sabji and roti. Add some tofu or paneer to it to increase its protein value. You can also add soaked moong dal or chana dal.
- Addition of 1-2 spoons of arrowroot powder which will be helpful to increase the mineral content of the food.
- Chapati pizza with hung curd spread, vegetables and herbs.
- Rice Pulao with raita is also a good combination for tiffin, even rice recipes like tamarind rice, lemon rice, peas pulao will add on to taste.
- Rice with sprouts, chole or rajma is also a healthy combination.
- Stuff mix veg paratha with curd.
- Veg Chapati roll, egg roll, veg kheema roll, and chicken roll are the good options for healthy tiffin.
- Dosa or moong dal pancake rolls with different vegetable and tofu is one of the options.