Healthy Lunchbox Tips
Keep it Balanced
Typically, a packed lunch should contain all of the major food groups:
- 1 portion of starchy carbohydrate (e.g. wholegrain breads, pittas and wraps, brown rice/pasta)
- 1 portion of meat or meat alternative (e.g. chicken, fish, egg, pulses)
- 1 portion of dairy (e.g. yogurt, cheese)
- 1 or more portion of vegetable (e.g. carrot sticks, peppers, sweetcorn, lettuce, onion)
- 1 or more portion of fruit (e.g. apple, orange, banana, pear, kiwi)
- A drink of water and/or milk
- Be prepared and organised – preparation in advance will not only save you time, but will reduce the chances of opting for last minute ready-made lunches or convenience foods which can be high in sugar, fat and salt.
- Get the kids involved – learning about food and nutrition are important life skills and should be encouraged from an early age. Children are more likely to be interested in their lunches if they have helped to choose and prepare them. Don’t be afraid to let them experiment!
- Try new foods – trying new foods from an early age plays a huge role in a child’s willingness and acceptance of different foods. Children’s food preferences evolve as their palates mature, so continuously encouraging them to try new and different foods is a crucial step in their development of good eating habits.
- Shake things up – variety is key, not only does variation in the diet provide nutritional benefits, but reduces boredom and lack of interest in food. This is particularly important for children and teenagers, as they can be prone to becoming fussy eaters.
- Consider presentation – it is worth spending that extra few minutes on presentation, especially for younger children. Aim for a variety of shapes, colours and textures in the lunchbox. The more pleasing a packed lunch looks; the more likely kids are to eat and enjoy it. It may be worth investing in colourful, easy-open Tupperware, lunchboxes and thermos flasks to liven up lunchtime.
The Department of Health advise 3 servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group each day for those aged 5 years and up; with 5 servings recommended for 9-18-year olds due to the importance of calcium during this life stage
Help your child boost their calcium intake with these lunchbox ideas:
• a container/mini-carton of milk (200ml)
• a pot of yogurt, homemade smoothie or rice pudding
• a matchbox-size (25 g) piece of cheese such as cheddar, edam or gouda.
- Lunchbox ideas Sandwich fillers: - Avocado, crunchy peppers and cheddar - Tuna and sweetcorn, spinach leaves and mayonnaise - Chicken, mixed salad and tomato relish - Turkey, grated cheddar and tomato
- Sandwich alternatives: - Pesto pasta salad with chicken and peppers - Mild spiced couscous with roasted veg and chickpeas - Brown rice salad with sliced hardboiled egg, avocado and spring onion - Homemade soup and brown bread
- Snacks: - Carrot and red pepper sticks with hummus - Cubed cheddar cheese with grapes - Fruit salad with yogurt and seeds - Fresh fruit smoothie made with milk or yogurt
- Alternative Sweet Treats: - Homemade flapjacks - Homemade banana bread - Mini box of raisins/ dried fruit