Simple and healthy ideas for kids school lunches

Keeping the kids interested in the contents of their lunchbox can be an ongoing challenge. Balancing healthy choices with what the kids will actually eat can be hit and miss and result in wasted money and food – not to mention hangry kids after school.

We have put together some tips and ideas that will make the daily lunchbox filling routine easier, healthier – and more delicious.

Hungry, growing kids

While adults may be able to get away with skipping a meal, growing and active kids need nutrient dense and healthy food throughout the day to support their growth and also their learning. A hungry brain functions less efficiently than a well-nourished one.

Including something in your child’s lunchbox from the four main food groups is a great way of ensuring you are offering your child a balanced diet. The four main food groups are:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Breads and cereals
  • Milk and milk products
  • Lean meat poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds

Let’s get real

While in an ideal world you would be able to pack the lunchbox with some tuna, homemade sugar free muffins groaning with veges and bran, a banana, and a tin of creamed rice for refuelling for any after school activities, the likelihood that your child will actually eat all of these is slim.

The reality for most parents is that despite their best efforts, food comes home uneaten or, what was happily eaten one week is put on the ‘yucky’ or ‘sick of it’ list the next. Mix it up with a variety of foods and try not to repeat favourites too often (unless your child likes to know what to expect each day).

For an easy snack, Healtheries Oven Baked Twirls are delicious – and kids love em! They are a better choice than other main snacking/chip products because they have 50% less fat than regular potato chips and are baked not fried. Made with natural colours and no artificial flavours, preservatives or added MSG. They are also vegan friendly.

So easy to pop one in the lunchbox for a quick, healthy snack, Healtheries Oven Baked Twirls come in two delicious flavours – chicken and pizza.

Inspiration for the lunchbox

If you are lacking inspiration, toothpicks or kebab sticks are your friend! Here are some fun ideas:

  • Cut and thread fresh fruit onto a toothpick
  • Thread ham, cucumber, capsicum and a square of cheese on to a toothpick. Pop some bread squares on too if your child doesn’t like large servings of bread or hang a few pretzels
  • Choose a fun shape of cooked pasta and thread it on a toothpick with cherry tomato, cheese and some ham, breakfast sausages, or salami
  • If making wraps, cut into bite sized pieces and thread a toothpick through to secure it

More lunchbox inspiration

  • Use a selection of bread products including wraps, pita pockets, mini bagels,  and muffins
  • Cold toastie sandwiches with baked beans or spaghetti
  • Rice paper wrappers filled with sprouts, chicken, and cucumber
  • Freeze a small container of yoghurt so it’s nice and slushy at lunch time. If your school is not a nut free zone, 5-6 almonds make a tasty, crunchy addition
  • If the weather is not too hot, cold chicken nibbles packed beside the frozen yoghurt are a treat
  • Mix up beans, carrot sticks, celery sticks, slices of capsicum, cherry tomatoes and include some hummus for dipping
  • Choose grainy crackers and include cheese slices for a filling option
  • Cut sandwiches in to fun and easy to eat shapes
  • Mini pikelets are a great option for kids on the move

Healthier options

There are clever ways you can make your standard lunchbox fare healthier. Use wholemeal bread in sandwiches – if you think you are pushing your luck with this, use one wholemeal and one white slice. There are high fibre white options available too.

If using a spread, use it sparingly or replace with hummus or avocado. Choose low fat and low sugar yoghurt and if baking, experiment with using less sugar than the recipe states. Have a quick glance at labels and choose low fat and reduced sugar options.

This articlewas written by Kidspot and includes information supplied by Healtheries.

10 Comments

  1. dawnblyth 03/07/2019 at 10:33 pm

    One of my children has a ham sandwich everyday and the other varies from a spread of some description. If I try to put any other fillings in their sandwiches then they will come home and complain. I am always looking for different snacks that I can put in their lunchboxes that are healthy options while conforming to kindy and school guidelines of no nuts and not excessive treats.

  2. MuddledUpMolly 01/07/2019 at 9:17 pm

    I’m lucky to have two kids who are not fussy at all and eat a wide range of foods. I like to try and mic things up for them though but mostly they will eat whatever it is I throw together for lunch. I am keen to try the previously mentioned healtheries oven baked twirls. It is a brand we swear by!

  3. Jen_Wiig 01/07/2019 at 1:40 pm

    So many great ideas here! I cant believe after 12yrs of parenting and 7 of making lunches i hadnt thought of alot of these, im always struggling for ideas for my boys and its espeically frustrating whwn one doesnt like one thing and another doesnt like another. Really into the toothpick ideas with fruit or pasta with cooked veges etc… Means less waste but a creative interesting way to get good foods into them. Ive always wanted to do wraps for the boys but worried about 1. How they stay together and 2. Maybe too much… But cutting them down like derrrr of course haha.
    Im lucky and greatful i have great fruit and vege eaters its just those snacks ideas… I dont want to deprive them of treats like chippies but id feel awhole better giving them a packet and then rest of lunches filled with good stuff… Now i maybe able to more easily

  4. Alezandra 29/06/2019 at 10:58 pm

    All these are good ideas…even threading into a toothpick to make it look more fun. But it’s different with my 4 year old son. He’s into routine and takes time to get used to new things in his lunch box. I’ve been trying to experiment and change it up. He’s stubborn and won’t eat anything new till I actually kinda force him to try — and he usually likes it but only after I try really hard. I just hope I am making his lunches as healthy as possible.

  5. SarahBlair 21/06/2019 at 4:28 pm

    I am always looking for new ideas for lunchboxes, I always make sure that there is a piece of fruit in the kids lunches and a sandwich or bread roll etc. I find it difficult to keep it interesting and not repetitive so I am appreciating these great ideas that are here!

  6. Micht 20/06/2019 at 11:51 am

    This definitely becomes a challenge when kids get tired of the same ol in their lunchboxes. My daughters however dont see the difference in white or brown bread when giving sandwiches cos i didnt make a big deal of it…bread is bread in our house…thats helped alot… another idea for lunchboxes i use is a stick of block cheese wrapped in a salami slice… she loves it. These crackers are also great in how they are made… and the portion size is great too…

  7. Mands1980 18/06/2019 at 8:50 am

    We always have fruit either apple cut up or mandarins, some yoghurt in a container or the squeezy yoghurt which doesn’t make a mess through the lunch box if lids don’t go back on properly. We also add in either cold sausage, cold toasties. We also have pie warmer at school so they can take along something to be heated like cheese rolls, sausage rolls, pizza, toasties so it is a lot easier in winter I find with this choice. We cut up carrots, they also have popcorn or chips.

  8. Bevik1971 17/06/2019 at 12:47 pm

    It can be difficult trying to sort lunches for kids especially if they are fussy! My 6 year old is gluten and dairy intolerant also so that makes it even harder 🙁 I am waiting for my trial pack of the Healtheries Twirls for her to try though so they will be added to the lunchbox when they arrive. We generally put in 2 x pieces of fruit (usually cut up in a container with a fork), a sandwich/bun with roast beef or good ham, raisins or similar, healthy frooze balls, organic corn chips. Sometimes some home made pizza and we are going to buy a small hot container to put in home made spag bol or similar to take 🙂

  9. Shorrty4life1 12/06/2019 at 8:20 pm

    My lunch box rules are at least 1 fruit a day, 1 bar, 1 bag of vege crisps, 1 Lee snack and areos and 1sandwhich. This is plenty for my children as they normally both only eat 2 things from lunch box for the whole day anyway with sandwich. I would love to make it more appetising and healthy but that can be pretty unaffordable on one wage so I feel my kids lunches are healthy and nutritious all in one.

  10. kymmage 12/06/2019 at 7:29 pm

    The best advice I have is to involve your child in building their lunchbox. My youngest’s lunchbox use to look like a party box. In the new year I started including her in the decision making of her lunchbox with a healthy framing to the conversation. So she had to select a fruit or vegetable to include and get more healthy grains. She is getting there! She loves having baby carrots and banana in there. She has a Yoghurt happily most days. Sometimes it’s not eaten… And she loves those stand and stuff taco boats with cheese as well. It’s a big improvement.

    My eldest needs no encouragement and her lunchbox always has carrots and Broccoli, a boiled egg, and yoghurt. Of course also some chocolate for energy and a packet of chips. We have recently been trying new types of chips and those Healtheries Twirls have made an appearance in the lunchbox this week too!

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