A healthy and nutritious lunch box to give your kids the right amount of energy they need to get through the busy school day is the ultimate parenting goal. There is a constant pressure to give kids a ‘balanced’ diet, but this can really feel like a juggling act when there are so many different articles online giving different advice on what are the best ‘super foods’ to give to your children.
One common debacle that arises for parents when packing their child’s lunch box is the choice between chicken and meat, what really is better for kids at school?
The reason chicken or meat is needed in your child’s lunch box is for protein. This is the overall intention of these foods. Protein is an energy that is slowly released over the course of the day to provide children with optimal energy to run around the playground as well as brainpower to focus at school. Lean meat, such as chicken or fish, is actually the better source of protein.
That being said, red meat has other valuable contents that are needed for child’s growth and development. Red meat is a rich source of iron and B12, two important elements that can only be sourced from animal products. These are highly important in bone growth and strength as well as preventing fatigue.
Both chicken and meat are important as part of a balanced diet and when it comes to your child’s lunch box; there is no right or wrong answer. You should take into account what your child is eating for dinner all through the week, and ensure that there is the right amount of balance with this. For example, if you have lamb for dinner one night, the lunch box the next day should be packed with chicken, so that you are providing a balance between the two types of meat. A child should have 2 to 3 serves of lean meat and 1 or 2 serves of red meat through the week.
If you are raising your child vegetarian or pescatarian, or concerned about your child’s protein intake on days when you don’t serve them meat, there are plenty of alternatives to chicken as a source of protein and energy. Some of these include:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Legumes/ beans
- Nuts and seeds
- Falafel balls
- Savoury vegetable-filled muffins