Packing healthy, fun school lunches can be easier with these handy tips from our friends at The Good Grocer IGA.
Healthy lunches and snacks are important for keeping kids energised at school.1
Here are a few ideas to help make it easier and quicker to pack a fun and nourishing lunchbox each day.
In this article
1. Plan ahead
Planning your lunchboxes for the week ahead can save you some time and energy of having to decide each day what to pack. Make a shopping list, gather some healthy ingredients and you’ll be off to a great start.
You can also try doing some meal prep in advance – like chopping up a few days’ worth of fruit or veggie sticks to keep in the fridge and easily add to lunches.
2. Choose foods from all five food groups
To create a nutritious and balanced lunch, try to include a variety of foods from the five food groups:1
- Fruit – fresh whole fruits like a banana or apple, or try cut up fruits in a container.
- Vegetables – like crunchy carrot, celery or capsicum sticks, cherry tomatoes, or salad vegetables in a sandwich or wrap.
- Grain or cereal foods – like breads, rice, pasta salad or rice crackers, choosing mostly wholegrain options.
- Dairy products or alternatives – like tubs of yoghurt, cheese slices or cubes, or a small milk drink.
- Lean meats or protein alternatives – like chicken in a sandwich or wrap, tinned tuna, a hard-boiled egg or baked beans.
3. Choose healthy snacks
A few ideas include:
- Whole grain crackers with nut butter or cheese
- Fresh fruit or colourful fruit salad
- Trail mix with nuts, seeds and dried fruit
- Plain or lightly salted popcorn or puffed wheat
- Veggie sticks with hummus or peanut butter
- Roasted chickpeas or other legumes
- Mini vegetable frittatas
- Yoghurt with fruit
- Homemade energy balls (with ingredients like dates, oats, nuts, seeds and coconut)
4. Get organised
It can be helpful to keep all your lunchbox supplies organised in your kitchen. Try putting lunch boxes, drink bottles and any other containers that you use for school lunches together in one spot so you don’t have to rummage through cupboards to find them.
A good tip can be to use a shallow cardboard box or a plastic bin to keep things together rather than have them loose in the cupboard, so you can easily slide it out to grab what you need.
5. Prep extra at dinner time
You can save some time by packing lunches while you make dinner. For example, if you’re chopping up vegetables for dinner, you could chop some extras for lunchboxes.
If you’re making a meal that can be re-heated like pasta or curry, try making some extra and freezing it in individual serves for lunchboxes. These frozen portions can be defrosted overnight in the fridge when you’re ready to use them.
6. Get the kids involved
Getting the kids involved in packing their own lunchbox can help create good habits and may make them more likely to eat it happily.
Try offering them a choice between a few healthy and convenient options and use the opportunity to talk about healthy food and nutrition.
You could also try creating a choose-your-own snack system in your pantry and/or fridge, with containers for different types of healthy snacks so they’re easy to grab when packing school lunches. Older kids can choose their own items from the snack box to add to their lunch.
7. Keep food chilled
Some foods need to be kept fresh and chilled, especially during the warmer summer months.
A few simple solutions for keeping lunchboxes cool are:
- Ice packs designed for lunchboxes, which you can often buy at supermarkets.
- DIY ice packs using a kitchen sponge. All you need to do is run the sponge under water, place it into a freezer-safe bag and freeze, and you’ll have a cheap, reusable ice-brick.
- Frozen drink bottles can also be used to keep lunchboxes chilled. Put the bottle in the freezer overnight, and it should defrost by recess so your child can enjoy a chilled drink.
- Other frozen lunchbox items like yoghurt or fruit cups.
Looking for healthy eating advice?
- HBF diet and nutrition cover can pay benefits towards visits with a dietitian or nutritionist, who can give you expert advice on healthy food choices to optimise your health and wellbeing.
If you’re an HBF member, you can check what you're covered for by logging on to myHBF or calling us on 133 423.
Diet and nutrition cover with HBF
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This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.