A HEALTHY meal is really nothing more than the combination of quality nutritional foods, sometimes an improved cooking style and a little bit of effort.
The end result, as chef Dom Sanson explains, is one which is worth the extra effort, improving efficiency throughout the day and ensuring a better lifestyle.
"A health mix of protein, carbs, fruit and veg, is the key. The humble sandwich is probably close to a perfect packed lunch food," he said.
"Use wholemeal bread for slow release energy. Someone once told me a slice of white bread converts to glucose on eating which gives you a short burst of energy and not much else."
Mr Samson suggests filling the sandwiches with fresh vegetables and proteins.
"A sandwich need not be made of bread. Try using roti or even pancakes (use wholemeal flour for pancakes and roti) as a wrap."
Another suggestion he makes is doing fishcakes or vegetable cakes, describing them as both easy to make and convenient to pack into a lunch.
"You can use leftover mashed potato or kumala and add fresh or tinned fish (tuna flakes are good), an egg to bind it and a variation of vegetables: finely chopped onion, fresh coriander, sweet corn, chopped capsicum etc.
"Fruit comes in natural biodegradable packaging and should be an essential part of a packed lunch, but don't stop at one piece. A banana, mango and a few slices of pineapple offer a nutritious range of vitamins, fibre, sugars and are cheap and tasty."
Mr Samson says butter in lunches is not necessary — just putting together a sandwich with wholemeal bread slices, some leftover chicken (protein), a small bit of mayonnaise and some watercress (vegetable) suffices for a good balanced lunch meal.
While lunch is an essential part of the child's diet, Mr Sanson observes that something which requires just as much attention is preparing healthy balanced breakfasts to compliment the healthy lunches.
"A good breakfast is essential for efficient physical and mental function. And you can prepare most of breakfast the day before.
"We always hear about a balance diet and breakfast is no different. Ideally breakfast should have protein, carbohydrates, fresh fruit and vegetables," he says.