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Lunch-Box Fillers

Healthy store-bought snacks to save time



As parents, we want to provide the best for our children and the school lunch box is no exception. Healthy, child-friendly options are now more important than ever with the global rise of childhood diabetes and obesity. Of course, fresh fruit and vegetables are always the best choices, but sometimes a “grab and go” snack can be perfect when you’ve run out of ideas or when fresh food is unavailable.

Among the aisles of highly tempting, over-processed and calorific snacks, healthy options can seem limited. We’ve searched the supermarkets for some of the best lunch-box snacks around town. Our criteria were simple: snacks must be healthy, have convenient packaging, fit snugly into a lunch box and taste good. We also considered that many schools have a no-nut policy. Finally, we asked a few expert, unbiased food critics—my kids—to judge the taste and texture. Ten-year-old Luke and seven-year-old Samuel polished off the test snacks before the week was over, so you know that these snacks are kid-approved.

Organic

Ellas Kitchen Fruit Smoothies

Organic products specifically designed for kids can be difficult to find. Fortunately, popular UK brand Ella’s Kitchen makes the grade with their 100% organic baby and toddler snacks. Their fruit smoothies are a top find and loved by older kids too. While the price may be higher than other brands, it reflects the use of organic, nutrient-dense food.

Why we love it: Handy twist top for little hands, convenient BPA-free packaging, smooth texture for fussy eaters, delicious flavours
Where to buy: Carrefour, Mega Mart
Price: QR 9.75
Luke says: The texture is smooth. My favourite is The Purple One

 

Dairy

Mini Babybel Cheese

Calcium is important for strong, healthy bones and one 21-gram Mini Babybel cheese provides 15% of the recommended daily value of calcium. Babybels come in a variety of choices such as mozzarella, cheddar or low-fat. Serve with some wholemeal crackers and slices of fresh fruit.

Why we love it: 100% real cheese, conveniently sized, high in calcium
Where to buy: Carrefour, LuLu Hypermarket, Mega Mart
Price: QR 5 for pack of five
Sam says: The wax wrapping is fun to remove

 

Veggie

Green Day Mixed Veggie Chips

Unlike most chips that are packed with salt and fat, Green Day’s range is vacuum fried with heart-friendly rice-bran oil resulting in crispy, low-fat, low-salt, high-fibre snacks. Made with broccoli, carrot and pumpkin, these healthy chips may be a good option for fussy eaters who refuse vegetables.

Why we love them: Vacuum-fried with no preservatives, colourants or added sugar
Where to buy: Geant, LuLu Hypermarket
Price: QR 4.75
Luke says: I like the crunchiness of the chips

 

Fruit

Saint Mamet Fruit Cups

This French company prides itself on using good and healthy fruit from sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture. When fresh fruit isn’t available, these handy little cups of cubed fruit in natural, no-added-sugar juice are a tasty alternative.

Why we love it: Convenient cups, no added sugar, range of flavours such as peach or apple
Where to buy: Carrefour
Price: QR 20 for pack of four
Sam says: It fits my lunch box perfectly. I like the coconut juice and pineapple cups

 

Grain

Tesco Goodness Banana Cereal Bars

The Goodness for Kids range by Tesco has been developed by nutritionists to create portion-controlled, healthy products in line with the UK Food Standards Agency guidelines for children. These snack bars are perfect to toss in a lunch box, sports bag or even mum’s purse for an on-the-go snack.

Why we love it: Free from artificial colours and flavours, one-handed snacking
Where to buy: Mega Mart
Price: QR 13.75 for a box of six
Sam says: The banana flavour is great, and it tastes like Rice Krispies

 

Locally Produced

Dandy Laban Airan

Proudly made in Qatar, the Dandy range offers a convenient 200ml plain laban which has a thicker texture than milk and is packed with bone-strengthening calcium and cultures.

Why we love it: A good milk alternative, locally made, conveniently sized, no added sugar
Where to buy: Al Meera, Carrefour, LuLu Hypermarket
Price: QR 3
Sam says: Laban is one of my favourite drinks

 

Product ranges and prices may vary between supermarkets  

 

Making Healthy Choices

The Qatar Dietary Guidelines provide tips on how to read nutrition labels. You can find more information about Qatar’s Dietary Guidelines at eservices.moph.gov.qa/qdgportal

  • Read nutritional panels and labels to make informed choices
  • Be cautious of “healthy” or “all natural” claims and labels
  • General guidelines for adults recommend the following limits per 100 grams of food—less than 3 grams of total fat, less than 1.5 grams of saturated fat, less than 0.2 grams of trans fat, less than 5 grams of sugar, and less than 120 milligrams of sodium
  • Ingredients are listed in order of the ingredient highest in weight. Make sure to select products with whole foods like fruit, vegetables and whole grains listed first
  • Sugar can be listed as sugar, fructose, glucose, sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup

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