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:
- Get a sturdy lunchbox with a number of compartments and room for extra containers.
- Encourage your children to do some preparation the night before – the morning rush often makes things difficult.
- Plan to cook extra at dinner, so there are plenty of leftovers that can be used in lunchbox sandwiches and wraps
- 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).
- 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.
- Buy yoghurt or custard tubs in 100 ml, ready-to-grab portion sizes.
- Try and reduce your usage of plastic wrap by using small containers that can be washed out at the end of the day.
- Teach food safety by encouraging your children to use chilled insulators, especially in summer months.
- 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.
- Stick the food group lunchbox template to your fridge for easy reference.