We all know the daily stress of having to pack lunch boxes that are not only nutritious but also appealing to our kids.
According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, children aged 4-8 years should aim for 1½ serves of fruit, 4½ serves of veggies, 1½-2 serves of dairy, 4 serves of grains and 1½ serves of lean meats, nuts and nut pastes and legumes each day for optimal health.
One-third of our children’s daily food intake occurs at school so it must be nutritious as well as delicious. The good news is there’s a whole range of healthy foods we can add to the lunch box that our kids will love.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
It might not be high on your child’s list of priorities but eating fruit and vegetables during the school day is important for their health. To get in their 4½ serves of vegies a day, kids need to be eating some during school time.
Whole fruits are easy to pack and provide excellent nutrition. Vegetables can be provided as part of sandwich fillings, muffin ingredients or simply chopped up and added to the lunchbox individually.
Some healthy and easy options for the lunchbox include:
- Corn on the cob
- Cherry tomatoes
- Vegetable sticks (carrot, cucumber, celery) and dip
There’s certainly nothing wrong with packing sandwiches, but there’s a range of other grain-based foods you can pack that provide energy for your child. Aim to include wholegrain and high-fibre varieties wherever possible.
Some examples of grain foods include:
- Rice or pasta salad
- Homemade muffins
- Crackers or rice cakes
- Wraps or bread rolls
Protein helps young bodies grow and little tummies feel full. The most obvious protein foods are meat, but there are plenty of other protein foods you can include in the lunchbox too.
Pack protein-filled foods such as:
- Baked beans
- Canned tuna or salmon
- Lean meat slices
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Lentil patties
You can add dairy foods such as cheese slices, yoghurt, or soy-based products to the lunchbox too. Look for varieties that have no or limited added sugars.