In our modern life, preparing a healthy lunchbox can be a difficult task. The foods we pack in lunchboxes can contribute up to 1/3 of their daily intake of nutrients. That is why it is essential to pack a balanced lunch box.
According to the experts’ opinion, it is crucial to combine in the lunchbox:
- Protein-rich food, for example, nuts, seeds, fish, eggs, poultry or red meat
- Food high in calcium, like cheese slices, milk or yoghurt
- Grain foods, especially wholegrain bread for sandwiches, wholegrain crackers or cereals for snacks.
- And of course, a variety of fruits and vegetables!
Additionally, you can keep some extra foods such as snack bars or biscuits out of the lunch box for some special occasions.
While most people understand that foods like fruit and vegetables are healthy, it is more difficult to estimate the nutritional value of packaged foods.
Reduced to Clear recommends using the Health Stars Rating for choosing the best product at the supermarket. So, look for Health Stars on the front of packaged foods.
New Zealand Food Safety explains that “the Health Star Rating system is a voluntary labelling system that makes it easier to choose healthier packaged food. It uses a star rating scale of half a star to 5 stars – foods with more stars are healthier than similar foods with fewer stars. You can trust the Health Star Ratings. They are an independent rating developed by the New Zealand and Australian Governments in collaboration with public health experts, the food industry and consumer groups”.
For example, when you need to buy crackers, compare the number of Health Stars on different packs to choose the healthiest one. The higher the Health Star Rating – the healthier the crackers. However, Health stars shouldn’t be used to compare different types of food – such as jams versus breakfast cereals.
Thus, Health Star Ratings rate the overall nutrition content and healthiness of packaged foods. Foods get more stars if they are lower in saturated fat, sugar or sodium (salt) and higher in healthy nutrients and ingredients (fibre, protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts or legumes).
Reduced to Clear recommends breakfast foods with Health Star Rating 4 and 4.5, such as: