Tips for Preparing Healthy Lunches for Kids

kids' lunches

Do your kids return home from school with an untouched lunchbox? Nutrition at morning tea and lunchtime is vital for active children. By packing a nutritious school lunch that includes protein in the form of beef and lamb, wholegrain bread, fruits, vegetables and dairy, you set your children up for a positive day full of learning.

What Should You Pack?

This template is an ideal starting point for preparing healthy lunches for kids. Simply choose one item from each category for a well-rounded lunchbox:

Protein – lamb, beef, chicken, fish, legumes, tofu, beans

Wholegrains – multigrain bread, wraps, pitas, crispbread or crackers, rice cakes, wholemeal pikelets, muesli bars, air-popped popcorn

Fruit – whole fruit pieces, fruit salad, fruit in natural juice

Vegetables – salad sandwich/wrap/pita, chopped carrot or other veggie sticks

Dairy – reduced fat milk, cheese, custard, yoghurt

Water – the only hydration your children require

Get the Kids Involved

For many parents, getting their children to eat a lunch such as this is easier said than done. By encouraging your kids to pack their own lunches full of foods they enjoy, you might find they have a sense of ownership over the food they have prepared. It’s also a great opportunity to teach your kids about nutritional value and healthy eating habits.

Below are ten ideas for getting your kids involved in the school lunch process:

  1. Get a sturdy lunchbox with a number of compartments and room for extra containers.
  2. Encourage your children to do some preparation the night before – the morning rush often makes things difficult.
  3. Plan to cook extra at dinner, so there are plenty of leftovers that can be used in lunchbox sandwiches and wraps
  4. If you have younger kids, colour code food items to correspond with morning tea and lunch breaks (red for morning tea and blue for lunch, or similar).
  5. Set aside an area in the fridge and pantry (at a suitable height) for your children to store the food they need for lunch preparation.
  6. Buy yoghurt or custard tubs in 100 ml, ready-to-grab portion sizes.
  7. Try and reduce your usage of plastic wrap by using small containers that can be washed out at the end of the day.
  8. Teach food safety by encouraging your children to use chilled insulators, especially in summer months.
  9. Pre-cut vegetables and fruit and store them in containers in your fridge. This allows your kids to easily select their own portions when packing a lunchbox.
  10. Stick the food group lunchbox template to your fridge for easy reference.

The information in this post is adapted from Beef and Lamb. For more school lunch ideas, check out our article on turning family dinners into lunchbox favourites.