With a third of a child’s food intake being eaten at school, it’s important that lunchboxes contain a third of their recommended daily intake of nutrients. This means foods from all five food groups should be included, plus a bottle of chilled water.
Put at least one vegetable in their sandwich plus a separate cup (75g) of raw salad vegetables like carrot, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, capsicum or ½ cup sweet corn kernels. Some kids might like to eat their veg with cheese or a dip like hommus.
An apple, banana or pear or two smaller pieces of fruit like a mandarin and an apricot. Alternatively you could include a cup of diced mango, berries or grapes.
3. Wholegrains or starchy vegetable
Mix it up with a wholemeal sandwich, flatbread, roll or cooked brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal pasta or potato salad. You can include an additional grain-based snack such as brown rice crackers, unsalted and unsweetened popcorn, brown rice and quinoa rice cakes or wholegrain crispbread like Multigrain Ryvita.
4. Dairy and dairy alternatives
For primary school kids, this may be a slice of cheddar, 100g yoghurt or ½ cup milk. Older secondary school kids will need double that for their growth requirements.
5. Meat and meat alternatives
Younger primary school kids may enjoy 40g chicken, turkey, lean leg ham or thinly sliced fillet steak; 50g tuna or salmon; or 1 cooked egg. Older secondary school students will need double that for their growth and development requirements.
6. A big bottle of chilled water
What does this look like?
Your child may need more food than this to meet their energy requirements, but here are some examples of the basic lunchbox. All include complex carbohydrate and protein at recess and lunch to keep them satisfied and focussed for the day.
1 carrot cut into sticks
30g wholegrain crackers
Hommus for dipping
½ cup sweet corn kernels
Multigrain Ryvita with cheddar
1 cup berries
Tub of yoghurt
Small bottle of reduced-milk with a straw (flavour it with raw cacao powder and ½ tsp maple syrup if you like)
1 cup (75g) raw cucumber and capsicum
30g brown rice and seaweed crackers
Wholemeal sandwich with lean leg ham, cheese and tomato
1 cup grapes
Egg and lettuce in rye flatbread
Brown rice with chicken, corn, peas, carrot and capsicum
Small wholemeal fruit and seed bun
Tuna, corn and lettuce wholegrain wrap
1 cup cherry tomatoes
Wholemeal roll filled with chicken, avocado and finely chopped celery
- Spread the bread with avocado instead of butter or margarine.
- Pat slices of tomato with a paper towel and place between other ingredients to avoid soggy bread
- Freeze yoghurt and milk so they are cold by the time they eat it
- Leftovers like rice, pasta, rice paper rolls, salmon patties and frittata make great alternatives to sandwiches