Lunchbox ideas - children

Lunchboxes can be a real challenge - you want to make sure your children eat a variety of healthy foods, but you also need to know the lunch will be eaten! By including foods from each of the four food groups you will help ensure they get all the necessary nutrients. Asking your children what they would like, or involving them in preparing their own lunchboxes, will reduce the likelihood of the food being thrown away or coming home uneaten.

The healthy lunchbox

Food groups

Lunchbox idea

Fruit & Vegetables

Vegetable sticks - carrot, cucumber and celery with an optional dip such as cottage cheese, hummus, pesto, Greek yoghurt, tzatziki or *peanut butter.
Small (cherry) or chopped tomatoes
Fresh fruit - chopping bigger fruit  beforehand will make it easier to eat - a variety throughout the week maintains interest and ensures a variety of nutrients
Fruit pottles
Mini salads - coleslaw or a lettuce salad with tomato, grated carrot and cucumber
Small packet or handful of raisins or dried fruit

Breads and cereals

Sandwiches - see below for filling and presentation ideas
Cereal bars
Plain biscuits
Plain popcorn
Rice crackers
Potato or pasta salad
Potato cakes
Left over pasta and rice dishes

Meat and alternatives

Meat or chicken sandwiches
Egg or tuna sandwiches
Hard-boiled eggs
Hummus - Add some to sandwiches or put a couple of tablespoons in a container to go alongside vegetable sticks
*Peanut butter - add to sandwiches or use as a dip for vegetable sticks
*A small handful of nuts and seeds

Milk & Milk Products

Pottle of yoghurt or yoghurt squeezables
Plain or flavoured milk
Cubes or slices of cheese
Cottage cheese - add to sandwiches or use as a dip for vegetable sticks

  *Note: It may be wise to check your school’s policy on nuts as some schools can be ‘peanut free’

Tips on sandwiches

Try cutting sandwiches into shapes such as fingers or squares, and use various types of breads, rolls, wraps or pita pockets for sandwiches to add variety to lunches. Use wholemeal or wholegrain varieties where possible.
Sandwiches don’t have to be flash - they can be filled simply with a couple of slices of cheese, some vegemite or marmite, jam or *peanut butter. However, if you have other foods to hand, include some lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber, avocado, grated carrot, thinly sliced capsicum, tinned corn kernels or bean sprouts to make the sandwich more nutritious.

  • Tuna sandwich
    Mix canned tuna with low fat mayonnaise along with a pinch pepper and a splash of lemon juice and spread onto bread. Refrigerate any left over tuna mix for the following day.
  • Salad sandwich
    Spread either some hummus or relish onto the bread. Top with grated cheese and available salad ingredients.
  • Egg sandwich
    Mash two hard-boiled eggs with low fat mayonnaise and chopped parsley.
  • Leftovers sandwich
    Use leftover lamb, beef, fish, chicken, or corned beef along with some relish or sauce for an economical and tasty sandwich

Drinks

Water and milk are the best drinks for children. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of juice to their water bottle for a little extra flavour if needed.

Keeping food safe

  • Freeze a small container of water to put in alongside lunch as this will keep food cold and provide a cold lunchtime drink.
  • Clean containers thoroughly after use with hot water and detergent.
  • Throw out leftover food not eaten during the day.
Page reviewed January 2014