Tips for healthy lunchboxes
Filling a lunch box with nutritious options is important. The contents of a lunch box will help to provide a child with enough energy to maintain concentration throughout the school day. Without adequate food, concentration and hence learning ability can waver.
Not only can lunch box items help contribute towards optimal learning, they are also important in ensuring a child receives all nutrition they need. Lunch and snacks are important in ensuring a child reaches their recommended serves of the five food groups and appropriate vitamins/ minerals for good health and growth.
Healthy lunchbox ideas
It is one thing to ensure a child has enough food but it is another to ensure they have nutritious food.
Morning tea is a great time to squeeze in a serve of dairy, fruit or vegies! These should be light, low G.I options that will provide lasting energy and lots of nutrition for growth and learning:
Multi- grain Vita Weat or Ryvita crackers with fat reduced cheese and/or Vegemite
Fruit e.g. 1 apple, 20 grapes, 2 apricots, 1 nectarine, 1 banana, 1 sliced orange
Vegetable sticks (carrots, capsicum, celery, cherry tomatoes) with 2 TBS hommus or 3 TBS tzatziki e.g. Black Swan Skinny hommus/ tzatziki
Reduced fat yoghurt (if properly stored) or kids squeezable yoghurt e.g. Vaalia kids yoghurt pouches – these can be frozen and put in lunch boxes
Children’s cheese sticks
Air popped pop corn – without the butter/ salt! Corn Thins are also a good snack and are often well received by children. Accompany these with some vegies, cheese and a light spread of avocado.
Lunch – another great meal to fit in vegetables, dairy, protein and good sources of fibre that are low GI. A healthy lunch can incorporate the following:
Protein – Use home prepared lean meats like skinless chicken or lean beef with any visible
the fat removed. Other good options include egg or salmon/ tuna (tinned in spring
water). Use these meats in preference to heavily processed meats like salami or ham.
Legumes are also a great source of energy and protein.
Quality carbohydrate – Multi grain is always best! Always opt for a multigrain bread/ wrap
or wholemeal pasta and rice.
Vegetables – great for sandwich fillings, Vietnamese rolls or to bulk up pasta/ rice dishes.
Dairy – a slice of reduced fat cheese can easily be put on a sandwich.
Spreads – Steer away from butter or margarine and instead use a light spread of avocado,
cottage cheese or even light mayo.
Water is the best option. Juices and cordials are high in energy and low in nutritional value. Milk is also good but dependant on storage and season.
√ Place an ice pack or frozen drink in your child’s lunch box to keep items cool. Avoid packing refrigerated items on hot days e.g. milk, yoghurt.
√ Place salad ingredients in a separate container to bread. Your child can assemble the sandwich themselves and may actually enjoy doing so! This will prevent soggy bread which will be unappetising and will likely come back home. Alternatively, dry the salad well.
√ Cut vegetables, fruit or sandwiches into interesting shapes. Your kids will love the creativity and it will make eating the food more fun.
√ Pre- cut fruit so that it is quick and easy for children to eat while they are in the playground
√ Make lunches the night before if mornings are too busy, it is important to weigh up the convenience of packaged food vs. The nutritional value of fresh food vs. Preparation time
√ Aim for some variety over the week so your child does not get bored with the food
√ Keep discretionary foods to a minimum e.g. chips, Tiny Teddies, Roll Ups
Remember: Children only have small appetites and over-filling a lunch box can be off putting to children. It is not necessary to pack loads of food, instead, focus on the quality of food. Do not panic if not everything is eaten – a healthy child will not let themselves go hungry.
Resources and recipes
For more specific ideas and tips, visit the below link:
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist.
If you have questions about your child’s diet, ideas for healthy lunchboxes or any other nutrition related issues make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple, efficient and very effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today!