Who is running out of ideas for school lunch box already? With school well underway, organising school lunch boxes is a daily battle and it’s easy to run short on healthy ideas.

Sending our kids with healthy foods will help them concentrate at school, grow strong, and keep them healthy for the long run. So here are 8 steps to a really Healthy Lunch box!

Step 1. Include a fruit– for example- fresh whole fruit, or cut up fresh fruit pieces placed in a small plastic container, or some canned or processed fruit pieces in natural juice, or small box sultanas, or 2-3 dried apricots or dried apple ring slices   

Step 2. Include some veggies or salad– e.g. include some salad on a sandwich or wrap, or some veggie sticks – carrot, celery, capsicum, cucumber, baby tomato, snow peas with a dip like hummus, beetroot dip or tzatziki, or include a small can baked beans or corn, or include some leftover veggie pasta or rice salad with veggies and salad, or include some leftover roast veggies, or in winter you could include some veggie soup in a small thermos.    

Step 3. Include some wholegrain brown breads or cereals: Include a wholegrain bread to make up a sandwich, or a wholegrain wrap, or include some cooked rice or noodles or pasta or cous cous as a part of a salad, or include some wholegrain crackers of crispbreads e.g. vitawheats, rice cakes, corn thins, ryvitas or cruscuits, or some plain popped corn. 

Step 4. Include a protein food, e.g. include some cold meat or canned salmon or tuna on sandwich or wrap, or a boiled egg, leftover roast, or leftover kebab sticks, some zucchini slice or frittata, or some canned baked beans, lentils, 4 bean mix, or chickpeas.     

Step 6. Include a dairy. e.g. cheese as part of sandwich or salad or as its own snack, or some yoghurt – frozen the night before to keep it cold, or individual serve of UHT treated or long life milk (if sealed this can be safely stored outside of fridge so are ideal for lunch boxes).    

I recently found this freezable yoghurt cooler bag in the supermarket – which is a useful item to have around. Only problem is I don’t like getting the individual serve yoghurts, but I managed to find a little container that fits inside.

Step 7. Include a bottle of water

Step 8. Keep it cold. Pack an ice-brick or freeze the drink bottle the night before to pack next to the food. This will keep the food cold and safe from growing nasty bugs and making kids sick.   

The following foods are occasional choices and should NOT be part of your school lunch boxes on a regular basis.  

  • Sugary drinks like cordial, fruit juices & fruit drinks, soft drinks, flavoured milk , flavoured waters,  sports drinks
  • Chocolates and lollies
  • Processed kids snacks (high in fats, sugars or salt) e.g. muesli bars, nut bars, roll ups, tiny teddies, BBQ shapes, potato chips, corn chips, dunkaroos, le-snacks  
  • Cakes and sweet biscuits (although you might be able to make some homemade lower sugar versions, which could be included now and then)  
  • Processed meat like salami, kabana or twiggy sticks

My sister, who has older kids then me, says it gets hard not to include these as the kids start saying stuff like “all the other kids get chips in their lunchbox everyday”.  To deal with this try to make the healthy stuff interesting and just say firm but simple, something along the lines of “well you’re not the other kids”.  It’s probably NOT a good idea to say well that’s not healthy or that’s bad for you; because it can make the other kids feel ashamed, and your own kid feel guilty to eat these food (which is silly, no one should feel guilty for eating, and its ok to have these foods as occasional choice e.g. for a special occasion). You can say, “well I am trying to pack foods for you that will make you strong”, or “that will make you smart”, or “that taste supreme” lol.

Also let’s face it if you grew up in the 80s or 90s or 00s these processed foods where probably the norm in your own school lunch box as a kid. So it’s hard to break away from these habits. But if we make a special effort, we can set up our own kids with healthy habits from a young age, and it can really have such a positive impact on their life and future.  Plus as an extra bonus – you’ll save some money, as the processed snacks tend to be pretty pricy.

Good luck with the rest of the school term.