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What kids eat at lunch and snack time plays a huge part in fuelling their buzzing brains and active bodies through the school day.

And packing the lunch box with a balance of healthy foods and treats isn’t that difficult. It just means making sure they’re getting a variety of foods, across the food groups. There’s no need to stuff the lunch box with a million options and snacks – just choose wisely and give them exactly what their little bodies need for a busy day of learning.

What is a healthy lunch box?

It’s amazing to think that 30 percent of a child’s daily food intake is consumed while they’re at school. It really puts into perspective just how important it is to pack a healthy lunch that’s going to sustain them throughout the day. And honestly, it’s not as difficult as you might think.

When deciding what to pack in your child’s lunch box, just keep in mind the five food groups – (we should all be eating a variety of foods from these groups every day!):

  • Grain
  • Vegetables
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs
  • Dairy or their alternatives
  • Fruit

How to pack a healthy lunch box

How to pack a healthy lunch box

At home, it’s easier to create meals that cover the food groups, but at school, lunch and snacks need to be portable, and easy to eat. Most kids just want to munch and run! So here are some ways to easily include foods from each food group in a school lunch box.

Grain (breads and cereals)

Usually the humble sandwich, this food group can be so much more than just a Vegemite sambo! This section of the lunch box is all about foods that help provide energy though carbohydrates. Things like wholegrain bread, rolled oats, wholemeal pasta and brown rice.

Here are some ideas:

  • Rice cakes or corn thins topped with cottage cheese and cucumber
  • Pasta salad (just a simple version with cooked pasta, tomatoes, cucumber and mayonnaise or pesto)
  • Fried rice
  • Multigrain sandwich with salad
  • Green Pancakes with rolled oats, spinach and banana
  • Vegetable Quinoa Bites
  • Japanese Rice Balls

Vegetables

Veggies are like the power food of the lunch box. They’re high in fibre, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. They help kids feel full in a completely healthy way. If you’re kids aren’t keen on snacking on carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes, think of ways to include them in other ways, like dips and muffins.

Here are some ideas:

Meat and Alternatives

It can be tricky to get kids to eat meat at the best of time, let alone at school. But there’s a huge variety of foods that come under the banner of lean meat and alternatives, which helps with getting hungry students chowing down on these high protein foods which are rich in iron and zinc.

Here are some ideas:

Dairy and Alternatives

It’s time to up the kids’ calcium and minerals and boost their protein and vitamin intake with a section of the lunch box dedicated to dairy. These are key for healthy bones and teeth!

Here are some ideas:

  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Custard
  • Smoothies

Fruit

Most schools now have dedicated ‘crunch and sip’ time, when kids are encouraged to munch on fruit and veg and sip on water while they work or read. Fruit ticks off some really important dietary needs for growing kids, including vitamins and minerals.

Here are some ideas:

  • Bananas, apples, mangos, watermelon etc
  • Fruit salad
  • Dates
  • Fruit chips (baked banana or apple slices)
  • Sultanas

When it comes to drinks, most primary schools will only allow children to drink water – and that’s perfect! In summer, pop some ice into their drink bottles to make sure their water is nice and cool by snack and lunch time.

4 healthy lunch box tips

YT sushi sandwiches

  1. Get the kids involved in choosing their lunch and snacks. Show them the food groups and let them choose which items they want from each. Then shop together and pack lunches each morning together.
  2. Make healthy food fun! Boring sandwiches can be made into ‘sushi sandwiches‘.
  3. Use crinkled vegetable slicers or cookie cutters to make interesting shapes out of different foods.
  4. Get the kids to find healthy lunch examples on social media that they’d like to make.

How to support kids’ nutritional gaps

Whole Earth & Sea Kids Multi

We all know that kids can be picky, and sometimes the contents of the lunch box will come back slightly nibbled, but not eaten. There are other ways to help support kids’ nutrition, including adding a kids’ multivitamin into their daily routine.

Whole Earth & Sea Kids Multi includes a whole range of vitamins and minerals to meet children’s health needs and address gaps in their diet. With Farm Fresh Factors™ and wholefood sources of nutrients for a formula with the goodness of natural ingredients.

A chewable tablet, sweetened with xylitol for a tooth-friendly formula, Kids Multi contains 29 vitamins, minerals and nutrients important for children’s health, including B-group vitamins, iron, zinc, iodine and vitamin D3 delivered in a convenient and delicious berry flavoured chewable tablet. Featuring ingredients from wholefood sources, Kids Multi provides additional support for children with nutritional gaps in their diet.

(Sources: Cancer Council Health Lunch Box, Healthy Lunch Box Week, Better Health)

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  • Some really good ideas. I believe in giving my kids healthy foods with lots of vegetables and fruit. Very interesting reading.

    Reply

  • Great tips for Back to School if your child will eat them!

    Reply

  • Some nice ideas, but my kids won’t eat dishes like pasta, spaghetti, patties or vegetable bites when it’s served cold in the lunch box; making it unsuitable in our household

    Reply

  • With a picky four year old just starting preschool this is so helpful. I’ve just bought some new cook books & every bit of info is going in the arsenal! Here’s to hoping for happy lunches & a healthy little princess!

    Reply

  • This is really helpful to see and timely too!

    Reply

  • There are some great ideas here and so easy to follow :)

    Reply

  • Looks like I’m not the only one checking out the cuteness of sushi sandwich rolls! They look awesome!

    Reply

  • Some great tasty snacks and ideas and not only for kids.

    Reply

  • Wow that looks really great and helpful too.

    Reply

  • Sushi sandwiches look delicious and healthy

    Reply

  • Some great ideas! I am super lucky that my daughter absolutely loves fruit and vegies. The fruit and vegies never come home and the first thing she eats.

    Reply

  • Thanks. It’s hard when kids get quite bored. I find the less fussy they r the better it is to prep.

    Reply

  • I get so over packing lunches. It can be difficult to get inspiration, so I will be saving this article to look at throughout the year!

    Reply

  • This article could not have come to me at a better time. There is some awesome food ideas here. My 2 year old is becoming quite the little fuzz pot so this will help me with some new food ideas. Thanks.

    Reply

  • The visual is so handy to have on hand as a guide for what to pack!

    Reply

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