Healthy lunch box ideas

School children have different nutritional needs to those of preschoolers or toddlers. Once children start school, their energy requirements increase as they become more active and grow more quickly. School children usually have a high energy requirement for their size and require foods that are high in energy but also rich in nutrients.

A good supply of protein, calcium, iron and vitamins A and D is necessary during the primary school years. Calcium is needed for healthy tooth development and, together with vitamin D, helps make bones stronger. Of course, most kids would love to live on lollies, chips, convenience food and all the other things parents know have very little or no nutritional value – so how can parents get their children to eat their protein, fruits and veggies?

The first step is to be creative. Children, especially those that are younger, love to eat food that is fun to look at, as well as fun to eat.

Healthy sandwich ideas the kids won’t turn their nose up at:

  • Try using a variety of breads to keep things interesting. Bread rolls, baguettes, bagels, mountain bread and crispbread crackers can break up the monotony of a Vegemite sandwich on sliced white.
  • Try making sandwiches with one slice white and one of wholemeal, or use white bread with added fibre.
  • Use spreads like butter or margarine sparingly and try using sticky fillings that pack in some nutrients. A smear of avocado or hummous might do the trick.

Try these recipes to create healthy sandwiches:

Lunch box sandwich inspiration:

How to add more fruit and veggies to a lunch box:

  • Use fruit and vegetables from all colours of the rainbow, as they offer a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
  • Seasonal varieties that are easy to peel and eat are good choices.
  • Peeling and chopping fruit and vegetables into ready-to-eat bite-sized pieces makes them more appealing.

Lunch box salads:

Don’t forget to keep kids hydrated:

  • A drink bottle is important to make sure busy and active kids stay hydrated.
  • Water is the best fluid to serve, but if your child won’t drink water, try diluted fruit juices.

Drink ideas to pack with a lunch box:

Nutritious lunch box recipe ideas:

Lunch box meals with a twist:

 Lunch box scrolls:

Adding cheese to a lunch box is a great way to serve children some dairy to boost their calcium intake. Lower fat dairy foods are a good choice and you can try packing a tub of low fat yoghurt or fromage frais, or packing a carton of low-fat milk (flavoured or unflavoured). You could also make these lunch box scrolls and pizza ideas to serve more cheese:

Lunch box scones:

Healthier lunch box alternatives to packaged sweets and treats:

Lunch box savoury treat ideas:

Lunch box muesli bars and snacks you can make at home:

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