Children need a wide variety of foods for a well-balanced diet and this isn’t just limited to the foods they eat when they are at home. A healthy lunch when they are at school is important not only for growth and development, but also to keep energy levels high and their mind alert throughout the busy school day.
WHY IS A HEALTHY LUNCHBOX IMPORTANT?
Healthy lunches and snacks at school are important because they give active children the energy and nutrients they need to help them concentrate and learn.
Time is often limited for children to eat during the school day. Children may prefer to play with their friends instead of eating. So it’s important for children to sit and eat before heading out to play. This will be much easier, if they have a lunchbox full of foods they enjoy that are nutritious and tasty!
WHAT FOODS CAN I PUT IN MY CHILD’S LUNCHBOX?
For a balanced lunchbox, start with something from the bread group, get your child to choose a yummy filling, add some fruit or vegetables (or both!) for snacks, and top it off with a choice of dairy. Muffins and cereal bars can be added if your children are active and need the extra energy to get them through the day.
Fresh or tinned fruit
Small boxes of dried fruit
Vegetable sticks with dip (e.g. hommus, eggplant, tzatziki)
Small container of mixed vegetables (e.g. cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, snow peas)
Small container of reduced-fat long-life milk
Mini cheese triangles and cheese sticks
Bread rolls, pita bread, flat bread, bagels
Fruit loaf, scones
Pikelets, English muffins
Wholegrain crackers, rice cakes, corn thins
Yeast spreads (e.g. Vegemite, promite)
Tuna, egg, sliced cold or roast meats
Grated carrot, lettuce
Pickles or chutney
Home-made muffins with fruit and vegetables (e.g. sultana, carrot, zucchini, banana, pumpkin)
Low-fat, high fibre muesli or breakfast bars
Zip-lock bags with a handful of cereal pieces
WHAT ARE THE BEST DRINKS TO PUT IN MY CHILD’S LUNCHBOX?
Water and reduced-fat milk are the best drinks for children to drink most of the time. They can be frozen to help keep foods in the lunch box cool.
A small tetra pack or bottle (125 mL) of fruit juice is also OK. Sweet drinks such as cordials and soft drinks are high in sugar. It’s best to keep these drinks as special treats.
WILL MY CHILD’S LUNCH BE SAFE TO EAT BY LUNCHTIME?
To make sure your child’s lunch is safe for them to eat by lunchtime, here a few safety suggestions:
- Choose an insulated lunch box or one with a freezer pack or frozen water bottle to keep the lunchbox cool.
- Lunches prepared the night before can be stored in the fridge or freezer.
- Keep perishable foods such as dairy products, eggs and sliced meats cool. These foods should be eaten within about four hours of preparation.
- If just cooked, foods should be cooled in the refrigerator overnight.
GOOD FOOD, GOOD LIFE TIPS FOR DETERMINING WHY YOUR CHILD DOESN’T EAT THEIR LUNCH!
The lunchbox style
- Let your child choose their lunchbox & make sure they can open it easily!
- Choose foods that are easy to open rather than those with fiddly packaging.
- Try to pack a different lunch or sandwich filling every day.
- Cut sandwiches into different shapes, such as triangles or squares.
- Make “zebra” sandwiches using one slice of white bread and one
slice of brown bread.
- Get your child involved! Let your child help with the shopping and encourage them to choose healthy snacks for their lunchbox, such as fruit cups and high fibre muesli bars.
Fiddly or sticky foods
- Make fruit easier to eat. Remove orange peel or cut a kiwi fruit in half and include a spoon in the lunchbox.
- Offer grapes, berries or balls of melon that don’t need peeling and are quick and easy to eat!
- Place sliced tomato between meat, cheese or lettuce so that the bread doesn’t get soggy.