November 17, 2014

59% of mums are already stuck in a lunchbox rut, Ireland’s leading online community for mums reveals the results of its ‘Lunchbox’ survey and the shocking statistic that just over 10 weeks into the school year and already 59% of mums are stuck in a lunchbox rut of making the same snacks for school.

While over two-thirds of Irish mums (68%) struggle to make a nutritious school lunch that their child will eat. Worryingly only 4 in 10 mums could correctly identify all of the food groups (protein, vegetable, fruit, dairy and grain) that should be included to create a balanced school lunch.

MummyPages unveils Ireland’s school lunchbox favourite as voted by mums is the traditional ham sandwich with chicken coming in second place. Surprisingly, Nutella chocolate spread is the third most popular sandwich filler, with many mums making ‘Nutella sandwiches’ for their children on Fridays as a treat.

Here are some of the main insights from our lunchbox survey:

• 59% of mums admit to being ‘stuck in a lunchbox rut’ when it comes to preparing their child’s lunchbox
o This figure varies around the country – Galway (77%), Clare (75%), Kerry (70%), Cork (64%), Dublin (58%), Wicklow (50%), Tipperary (50%) and Limerick (42%).
• 68% of mums face a daily struggle to include adequate portions of all the essential food groups into their child’s school lunch with only 4 in 10 mums able to identify all the groups.
• 73% of mums struggle to include the recommended portion of vegetables and 20% of mums struggle to include portions of protein into their child’s school lunch.
• Ireland’s Top Three Lunchbox favourites revealed:
o 1st – Ham sandwiches
o 2nd – Chicken sandwiches
o 3rd – Nutella sandwiches
• 93% of school lunches are prepared at home
• 73% of mums prepare the school lunches, with dad helping out in only 23% of households
• 77% of mums involve their child in the preparation of their school lunch
• 70% of school lunch are prepared in the morning before school
• 83% of mums would love to be more creative with their child’s lunch, however:
o 34% of mums feel they lack inspiration or recipe ideas. For some lunchbox inspiration watch Mummypages video here
o 25% of mums lack both time and money to try something new
o 41% of mums are struggling to satisfy fussy eaters
• 22% of mums like to surprise their little one with notes in their lunchbox
• 73% of mums regularly experience their child coming home with only some lunch eaten
• 24% of school children delight in school lunch box envy from their friends

Interestingly, 77% of mums involve their child in the preparation of school lunches with the majority or 51% asking their children about what they want for their lunch while 49% insist they help make their lunch. Most mums believe that involving their child in preparing, packing and unpacking their lunchbox gives them a sense of independence and encourages them to eat their lunch.

One in five mums from the survey reported hiding notes in their child’s lunchbox or drawing funny faces on the outside of their banana or orange skin to bring a smile to their child’s face and let them know that they’re thinking of them when they’re in school.

Almost all of the MummyPages mums reported feeling completely powerless regarding their children’s lunchtime eating in school as they can only monitor what comes home in their schoolbag. Worryingly, MummyPages ‘Lunchbox survey’ can reveal that 73% of mums have experienced their child coming home without eating any or all of their school lunch, while 42% of mums claim their child is a slow eater and doesn’t receive adequate time to eat.

Commenting on the results of the survey Laura Haugh, Mum-in-Residence for says:

“For many mums, preparing a school lunch that is both nutritious and appealing is a time pressured task, with most parents preferring to make their sandwiches in the morning so that they taste fresher. This leaves little time or inclination to get creative and very often it’s easiest to stick to the tried and tested recipe and snack combinations.”

“Worryingly though, our MummyPages research showed a large number of our mums (68%) are facing a daily struggle to include adequate portions of all the essential food groups into their child’s school lunch. The worst performing food groups are vegetables and protein with 73% of mums failing to include any vegetables and 20% of mums failing to include the recommended dietary portions of protein. This is a huge concern as children need a balanced, nutritious lunch in order to be able to concentrate in school throughout the day. That’s why we’ve created a fun infographic to print out for their kitchen and a short recipe video to help mums get creative while ticking all of the important nutrition boxes.”

MummyPages Nutritional expert Siobhan Berry of gives some advice to mums struggling to include vegetables into their child’s diet:

A great way of coaxing your child to eat more vegetables is to give them a lunchbox makeover, veggies can be completely transformed and disguised into some of the most delicious spreads and dips. Spreads such as pesto and hummus work really well in sandwiches adding new flavours to your child’s lunch. Another great way to encourage them to eat more vegetables it to include a little portion of hummus with some veg sticks.”