We know what it’s like – you go to the trouble of packing an interesting lunch with a variety of foods, only to find it comes back home at the end of the day half eaten, rotten and squashed in the bottom of the school bag. With the countless other issues piled on your shoulders, the next day it seems easier to revert to the basics.

But it’s important to push on through – the food you send to school can contribute to at least a third of your child’s daily food intake. So packing a balanced lunchbox is important to make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need to grow up big and strong. On the plus side, healthy kids eat to hunger and won’t voluntarily starve themselves. So if you offer a healthy lunch box and avoid adding all the pre-packaged goodies they pester you for – they’ll eat it if they’re hungry. Good job mum!

When it comes to making your child’s lunch there are two rules Healthy Kids Association suggest you follow:

  1. When putting the lunch box together, choose a food from each of the five food groups: grains and cereals, protein, fruit, vegetables and dairy.
  2. Don’t demonise food – if you want to give your child one of their favourite ‘extra’ foods  (such as a small packet of chips or a sweet biscuit) that’s fine, but we recommend doing so only once a week and keep the portion small. As a guide, stick to serves  less than 600kj.

A note on drinks: we hope that all children drink water everyday. In addition, it’s OK to occasionally offer them fruit juice, as long as it’s 99% fruit juice and no more than 200mls. In the menu plan below, we offer it once a week. As for milk, studies show children are not getting enough calcium. Kids need calcium to encourage strong bone growth (especially teenagers!) and tooth enamel. Plain reduced fat milk for children over the age of two is ideal, but if your child won’t drink it, offering flavoured milk ensures they’re getting the calcium they need. If you’re worried about it staying cold and fresh, freeze it the night before.

Need some more  lunch box ideas? The following menu will keep you going for the next two weeks:

  Main Lunch Snack Fruit Drink (in addition to water)  Extra Snack
Mon Chicken, hummus and tomato sandwich Reduced fat cheese stick Apple Chocolate flavoured reduced fat milk Air popped popcorn
Tues Ham, reduced fat cream cheese and salad wrap Sultana snack pack Fruit salad Water Dry breakfast cereal
Wed Pesto pasta salad with chicken and capsicum Reduced fat yoghurt Orange 99% fruit juice (200ml or less) Vegetable sticks with dip
Thurs Egg, celery and reduced fat mayonnaise sandwich Homemade pita chips with hummus Frozen grapes Reduced fat plain milk Tinned fruit in juice
Fri Tuna, corn, lettuce and reduced fat mayonnaise wrap Reduced fat cheese with crackers Fruit kebab Water Muesli bar (weekly extra)
Mon Ham and sweet corn frittata Reduced fat custard Banana Water Rice crackers or cakes with dip
Tues Chicken salad with chick peas, baby spinach and pumpkin Vegetable sticks with dip Fruit salad Strawberry flavoured reduced fat milk Reduced fat yoghurt
Wed Tuna and sweet potato patties Reduced fat cheese stick Frozen melon balls Water Fruit spice English muffin
Thurs Turkey, tomato, spinach and reduced fat cheese sandwich Avocado, carrot and lettuce rice paper rolls Apple Reduced fat plain milk Reduced fat custard
Fri Sweet chilli chicken and lettuce wrap Muesli and reduced fat yoghurt Kiwi fruit and strawberries 99% fruit juice (200ml or less) Small packet potato chips (weekly extra)

It’s “FRUIT & VEG MONTH”! Download our parent pack and enter our competitions – there are great prizes to be won, including 50% off a fruit and veg box for everyone who downloads a pack. Get started eating more fruit and veg now – visit Healthy Kids. Want more nutritional ideas? Follow Healthy Kids Association on Facebook.