21 January 2020
With children spending one third of their day at school, being mindful of what you pack in their lunchbox can make a real difference. But knowing just what to pack, and having enough time to pack a lunchbox for children every morning can be tough.
Providing a healthy lunchbox is essential for a healthy, balanced diet and to ensure your child is getting all the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that children need for growth and development.
Here are 3 steps to help when choosing what to pack:
1. Add more fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables have great nutritional value that helps kids learn and play at school—plus they are low in fat and kilojoules, and high in fibre to keep your child feeling fuller for longer—and in the long term, they can even help to prevent cancer. When it comes to including fruit and vegetables in your child’s lunchbox, aim for at least two serves of vegetables and at least one of fruit in the lunch box every day:
- Add vegetables and salad as sandwich fillings.
- Use snack time as a way to include fruit and vegetables in the lunch box—why not try packing cherry tomatoes, sultanas, salad vegetables on crispbread or even celery sticks with your child’s favourite dip such as cream cheese or hommus.
- Add fruit and vegetables to homemade muffins, scones and pikelets, pizza, frittata and mini quiches. Ingredients such as sultanas, carrot, zucchini, apple, pear, banana, sweet potato or pumpkin are great fruits and vegetables to include in baking. Don’t forget that you can bake, wrap and freeze these healthy snacks ready to pop in the lunchbox.
- Keep the pantry stocked with dried fruit like sultanas and apricots or canned fruit or fruit puree in natural juice as a quick and easy lunchbox filler.
2. Start with small changes—small steps can make a big difference.
- Try one thing at a time. Make one change and let your child get used to it before introducing other new items into their lunchbox. Too much change at once can be counterproductive and overwhelming for your child.
- Switch up how you serve it up. Keep things interesting by changing how you pack your child’s food. Try cutting fruit in to smaller pieces, serve raw vegetable sticks with a vegetable or yoghurt-based dip, pack salad for lunch, or grab and go with one of your home-baked goods from the freezer.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no”. If your child asks for junk food like lollies, chocolate, cakes, sweet biscuits, chips and juice in their lunchbox, it’s ok to say no. Why? Because these foods are high in fat, sugar and salt. They also take the place of the healthy foods that kids need to provide essential nutrients to learn and play at school.
3. Do it together
Getting your children to help you buy, pack or prepare food for their lunchbox is a great way to ensure they eat what’s packed.
- Take your child shopping to choose fruit and vegetable items—let them see, smell and feel the produce with you.
- Plant some vegetables or herbs at home for kids to pick and pack in the lunchbox.
Sending your children to school with a healthy lunchbox is a great way to provide them with the right fuel to support active, growing bodies, and can help them to maintain a healthy lifestyle into adulthood to reduce their risk of cancer.
Find out more about how to make your lunchbox healthy here: