Healthy lunchbox ideas
Published: 31 January 2017
With term one underway, let’s take a look at the importance of a healthy school lunch and handy tips and recipes for a nutritious lunchbox.
There are many things to think about when preparing school lunches - nutrition, taste, portion size, cost, safety and, of course, enjoyment. Among the morning madness and afterschool activities, it can be tricky coming up with ideas that tick all these boxes and keep kids interested.
Here are a few lunchbox tips to help set your children up for a brighter day at school.
What makes up a healthy school lunchbox?
Eating a healthy lunch is important for growing children because it boosts their energy levels, improves concentration and provides the nutrients they need for growth and development. Organising a nutritious packed lunch doesn’t need to be complicated. Just remember to choose a variety of foods from each of the four food groups:
- Fruit and vegetables: Try an assortment of vege pieces (e.g. carrots, broccoli, capsicum), fresh sandwich fillings or a bright fruit kebabs. Using seasonal produce is a cost-efficient way to add colour and variety.
- Breads and cereals: Choose whole grain breads and cereals. Grainy or wholemeal breads, wraps and crackers provide more fibre than white varieties, and help kids feel fuller for longer.
- Milk and milk products: Protein and calcium are essential for strong teeth and bones. Reduced-fat milk and milk products such as yoghurt, cheese and plain UHT milk are ideal sources of these important nutrients.
- Lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds: These are high in protein and make an easy addition to any salad or sandwich. For protein-rich vegetarian options, try falafel, peanut butter or hummus.
What about snacks? Go for healthy snacks like fresh fruit, unsalted nuts or popcorn, or grainy crackers and dip. For some children, a lunchbox is not complete without a sweet treat. If that’s your child, choose products or recipes that contain fruit and whole grains, like these banana and oat cookies.
Children need plenty of fluid to keep them hydrated. Water is the best option; save juice or flavoured milk for occasional treats. Try freezing the drink bottle overnight to help keep other food items chilled the next day. Not only will everything taste better, but it will also be safer to eat.
Take time to plan lunchboxes and encourage the kids to get involved. Whether it’s writing the shopping list, researching recipes or helping with food preparation, this is a great opportunity to teach children the importance of optimal nutrition.
Our website Fuelled4life is all about supporting young people getting a good start to life. Browse through more great tips, loads of free recipes and resources to make the move towards healthier lunchboxes an easy one.View healthy lunchbox recipes now!