Unboxing the lunch natuarlly stimulates the gastric juice and exhilirate the taste buds. Finding the favourite food multiplies the pleasure of eating from the tiffin box. It is to be enjoyed and shared with the peer group. Lunch box cuisine varies with age, meal time at the work place, food culture (of the family as well as of the peers) and also the time availability of the time and the cooking skill of the person who cooks the food and pack the box. On various occassions, it is packed for the long journey. While writing I am recalling my lunch box and I am sure you must be in the same state with your tiffin.
Let us plainly understand some of the basic concepts and characteritics of the tiffin/lunch box or khane ka dabba.
For the young children
Lunch box for the children is a hidden treasure to be revealed during recess time. What it should contain and what are important concerns:
- Box itself need to be attractive and comfortable enough to carry and open.
- Inside the food should be eye appealing by shapes, colour and texture and also familiar, e.g. spinach paratha or vegetable sandwitch can be cut into triangles, square, ractangles, round. Add green peas, red carrort or green spinach and yellow corn for colour flavour and texture
- Give different foods on different days and avoid too many varieties on the same day. Children often find difficult to eat many things at a time and when they are in hurry to finish lunch and go for play during short period of recess
- Food should be clean, safe and easy to eat. It is likely that children do not eat if the food is tToo hard to chew, too spicy or Clean food and clean boox, spoon is of utmost important
- Be very careful about using sugar, salt and fat/oil in food preparation (high fat high sugar and high salt or HFSS). Regular consumption of HFSS may ruin the health of the children or lead to obesity.
- Recipes in lunch box should be nutrient dense and at the same time easy to consume and favourite, e.g. dal paratha with vegetable or spinach paratha with dry dal.
- Children spends several hours in school hence the lunch box items should not be treated as snack rather a complete meal. Therefor food preparation should be like a meal and should provide one third of the day’s requirement of the energy and nutrients
- Staple cereals, sources of good quality protein, and fruit/vegetable/nuts or seeds should be included.
- The meal should be filling enough so that the child should not either feel hungry or overfed to avoid nutritional gaps and hinderance in his or her performance.
- Packed lunch should be dry or semi solid. Avoid liquid or oily preparations to avoid spillage in school bags on books etc.
- Food should be palatable enough even when cold or dry. For example, noodles, dosa are unpalatable when cold. Salads are not a good choice for packed lunch for school children it gives low energy and takes time to consume. Whole fruits are a good choice.
- Food should not become soggy, mushy, mixed up, or ferment in lunch box
Basic characteristics are almost same, the difference lies in the situations like who prepares the lunch box food. If a lady of the house cooks and packs the food for the husband or any other person who is unaware is a different matter than who cooks and pack and know what is inside.
But certainly, peer group appreciation, sparkling eyes and mouthwatering on opening the lunch box are still the critical deliberation