HBF Dietitian, Mary Du Heaume says following the colours of the rainbow is one of the best nutritional rules of thumb. Varied colour in your child’s lunch box is a good indicator they’re getting the variety of nutritious goodness they need to grow and develop fully.
Using recipes from some of our favourite bloggers, we’ve created a rainbow lunch box plan that will introduce your child to a new fruit or vegetable every day. For more healthy lunch box recipes and tips, see the HBF Lunch & Play Report.
RED: Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A,
C and B3 (niacin). They contain manganese which helps regulate brain and
ORANGE/YELLOW: Carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin are rich in beta carotene, which is converted by the body into vitamin A to support healthy skin, a strong immune system and good eye health.
GREEN: Dark green veg such as spinach and broccoli are especially good sources of carotenes, with B carotene converted in the body to vitamin A. This helps maintain normal vision and immune function.
BLUE/PURPLE: Eggplant, beetroot
and blueberries are linked to improved memory function.
WHITE/BROWN: White or brown fruit
and vegetables contain a whole host
of goodness from B group vitamins
to potassium and protein, which aid
Monday - Say hello to mushrooms
It’s a (not-particularly-scientific) fact, that children
love muffins. They’re delicious, filling, on-the-go snacks
and can hide an arsenal of nutritious ingredients. This
healthy recipe from One Handed Cooks is such a tasty
lunch box filler, there won’t be a crumb left over.
SANG CHOW BOWS
For an alternative idea, dice mushrooms finely and
sautee with some onion, garlic and a splash of soy
sauce, and serve wrapped in a lettuce leaf.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of riboflavin
(vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3), which are
involved in releasing the energy from your food. They
are vital for the growth and development of children.
Mushrooms are bursting with fibre for good digestion.
Tuesday - Colourful capsicum for vitamin C
These quiches from Stay at Home Mum are a good hit of
protein for kids. They take less than 30 minutes to whip
up, and if you make extra, you can freeze them for an
after school snack.
Crunchy and moreish, this recipe from One Handed
Cooks will be a hit with the little ones at lunch time.
If you don’t have time to bake, simply serve up capsicum
slices with a side of protein-rich hummus.
Capsicums are rich in vitamin A, E, B6, dietary
fibre and folate, and support healthy eyes, skin and
strong immunity. They can be eaten raw or cooked.
Wednesday - Beautiful broccoli
for added fibre
Getting your kids to eat ‘mini trees’ (whether raw,
steamed or sautéed in butter) doesn’t always fly. So this
recipe from One Handed Cooks will be a sure-fire hit. Even
better, the addition of turkey and quinoa will provide
some energy-boosting protein.
Alternatively, if your child is keen on dipping crudités
(or even wholegrain crackers) try this fun twist on
guacamole with broccoli. It’s just as green and
Just 100g of cooked broccoli provides over 30mg
of vitamin C, which is more than the recommended
daily requirement. It’s is a good source of dietary fibre,
potassium, vitamin E, folate and beta-carotene for
Thursday - Bring on
Balance beetroot’s earthy flavour with a sweet vegetable
such as carrot. They combine beautifully in this recipe
from Planning with Kids. Not only is it nutritionally
sound, it looks beautiful and bright in the lunch box.
The addition of carrot adds beta carotene, which is
essential for good eye health.
Need to whip something up in a hurry? Create this
delicious dip to spread on a sandwich or serve with
veggie sticks or crackers.
With its vibrant earthy taste and intense red hue, this
‘rooty beauty’ is super colourful with antioxidants,
vitamin C and dietary fibre. Grated raw over salad,
roasted or boiled, this is a sweet addition that is a
burst of colour.
Friday - Toss in a
It’s no wonder that tomatoes are an all-time favourite
– sliced into a sandwich with cheese, baked into a pie, or
as a sauce, it’s super versatile. This tart from My Lovely
Little Lunchbox is an excellent lunch time staple that the
whole family will enjoy.
This pie from One Handed Cooks looks and tastes like
a treat, enticing even the most discerning lunch box
connoisseur. The addition of red kidney beans, which are
a good source of protein and low GI, will ensure they’re
extremely satisfying for hungry tummies.
Clever, bright and tasty! Cherry tomatoes or even
a whole Roma is a healthy quick addition in a lunch
box. They’re rich in vitamins A, C and niacin and contain
manganese, which helps regulate brain and nerve
Bonus - A tasty recipe with all the
colours of the rainbow
One of the best things about serving up an egg-based
frittata, slice or omelette is not only that it’s incredibly
easy and full of egg protein, but that the possibilities of
hiding a whole rainbow of veggies beneath the egg-y
goodness is endless. This slice from My Lovely Little
Lunchbox manages to squeeze in two zucchinis, two
carrots, a quarter of a cabbage and a capsicum.
Just add some mushrooms and you’ve included the
The beauty of this recipe is its adaptability – if you’re
vegetarian, just leave out the ham.
All of the above. The more colourful veggies you can
include in one lunch box sized serving, the better.
Delicious and nutritious – it’s a win-win.