Healthy Lunchbox ideas would be one of the most common questions I get asked. Lets be honest, it’s exhausting coming up with variety in the kids lunch boxes, when we’re time poor, lacking inspiration, and trying to navigate what’s allowed to be taken to school. This is often where the energy dense nutrient poor foods sneak in to their daily diet – simply because throwing a packet of something into their lunchbox becomes the easy option.
Ok so lets look at a simple guide to lunch boxes. Firstly – try and put ONE of EACH of the following into their lunchbox each day: Some multigrain, protein, dairy, veggies, fruit, and loads of water.
There are some great multi grain options available to kids these days. Some of them come in packets. I grab a handful of each of the following and put them into a little container in the lunchbox. Popcorn, pretzels, seed and grain crackers or chips, bean chips. Don’t forget the humble multi grain sandwich, wrap or roll. Add some cheese slices to some grain crackers. Or can you wrap cheese and ham into a multigrain wrap? Or diced chicken, celery and some mayonnaise and lettuce? The best wraps in my opinion are Helga multigrain, which contain no preservative 282 or other nasty additives.
Choosing multi grain over white breads gives kids the extra fibre, protein, and vitamins that they need for energy , good health, and to keep them fuller for longer. Start small and introduce wholemeal, then grain. Bakers delight do a great chia wholemeal loaf which our kids love. Full of omega 3 fats and protein – what’s not to love.
This is where some meat (rissoles, chicken breast, sandwich meat), some slices of cheese or cheesy cow, a boiled egg (or egg sandwich), tuna or sushi, yoghurt, hummus, chickpeas .. all come in. Choose one or two in their lunchbox each day. don’t forget the ice pack when you pack any dairy, sushi or meat.
Strongly recommend roasting some chickpeas with the kids (tinned variety are ok if you rinse them well) for their lunchbox. Drain, dry and add olive oil and salt, or some spices. 45 minutes on 180 on a baking tray, shaking them up every 15 mins .. and you’re left with a tasty crunch treat. Same for edamame peas, but put them straight into the oven from frozen for extra crunch.
Don’t forget the dairy for strong bones. Kids need 3 serves a day and this is where calcium and protein overlap, so including a serve of dairy such as cheese, yoghurt or milk is great. Milk is hard in lunch boxes, but cheese is pretty easy if you put some ice packs in there. I always put some cheddar cheese slices in with some multi grain crackers, and a laughing cow wedge or two. And if your school canteen serves fresh milk, pop a Sippah Straw into their lunchbox.
Trying to include veggies into each snack and meal for kids is important. both for healthy habits, and for good health. How can we include something more interesting than a carrot stick? how about cutting up some celery and carrots and including them with a hummus dip? include some celery, lettuce, corn, etc on their rolls and in their wraps.
Full of beautiful fibre, nutrients, energy and antioxidants for their immunity. Berries, apples, oranges, mandarins, bananas, tomato, avocado .. this is the easy one. A couple of pieces a fruit each day is great. Berries are really low in sugar but high in fibre and antioxidants so make sure you load up on these when the cost comes down in the supermarkets. wash well before eating!
So important for our kids – they need loads of water each day to stay hydrated, to prevent constipation, and to flush out their toxins. young girls are particularly prone to urinary tract infections so make sure they drink lots of water. Don’t put juices, flavoured milks or soft drinks in their lunch boxes. You’re just giving the water and healthy food extra competition.
Lunchbox Foods to avoid
Anything full of sugar. 1 teaspoon of sugar = 4g on the label. Kids should eat less than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day from food with labels. Tiny teddies, lollies, chocolate biscuits, museli bars, yoghurt squeezes, fruit rollups, energy bars, breakfast bars, sports drinks, are all hidden sources of added sugar. Do your kids a favour and fill their lunchbox up with healthy options instead. They’ll stop complaining after a few weeks 😉
Anything with artificial flavouring. your teacher will thank you for it. If it’s got cheese, BBQ, soy, pizza or other flavouring it’s probably full of MSG or an MSG natural equivalent. It’s going to have the same effect on your child. Try and stick to plain flavoured foods, their little bodies can’t tolerate the build up of glutamates, and their brains will over fire, making them hyperactive, wet their bed, or behave really really poorly. This includes grain waves and flavoured rice crackers i’m afraid.
Dried fruits. These are packed FULL of sugar. A couple of teaspoons of sugar per dried apricot for example. Instead, give them the real thing – a piece of fruit with the skin left on. lots of fibre, vitamins and minerals without all the sugar density.
Putting the above types of foods in the kids lunchbox means the healthy options (fruit, wholegrains, calcium, protein, and water) are just going to get ignored. Which child is going to choose an apple over a packet of tiny teddies or grain waves?
Sugar laden foods
Lets leave sugar rich foods, poppers, lollies, chocolates, processed food, fried food, bakery food, out of their lunchbox where possible. Choose food as close to nature as possible.
Nourishe Recommends ..
Some great products I recommend which you can find in Australian Supermarkets and makes lunch boxes a bit easier. Please note that i don’t have any affiliation with any of these companies or supermarkets where these are sold.
Bean Chips, Rice and Seasalt. Fibre, protein, no added nasties just browm rice, beans, sea salt and oil. They are so addictive.
Sippah Straws if their canteen sells plain milk. these flavoured straws have less than half a teaspoon of sugar, and encourage kids to drink milk. sold!
Laughing cow cheese wedges – calcium and protein, and lunchbox friendly. yes please.
Vita Weat 5 super seeds. I love these – add cheese, vegimite or cream cheese for the kids like we did in the good old days. So full of goodness – protein, fibre and healthy omega 3 fats for the brain.
Goodies 4 seed crackers for more wholegrain options
For more healthy Kids nutrition tips check out the healthy kids nutrition guide which contains 12 downloads, including a 17 page getting started guide with lots of tips just like this. All for $4.95 or the price of a cup of coffee!