A well balanced healthy lunch box will provide kids with all the energy and brain power they need for a busy day at nursery or school. Here are some ideas to help you create a healthy lunchbox for your family and avoid waste.
Young children naturally have much smaller stomachs than adults. No matter what you’re serving, portion size is very important. Your child’s hand size is a good way to measure the portion size they will need for lunch. E.g palm for protein, fist for fruit, fist for carbs, two handfuls for veg, two finger size piece of cheese, thumb-sized serving of spread.
Bread is a staple part of many packed lunches but you can use alternatives to sliced bread, such as pittas, wraps, rolls or flatbreads. Try choosing brown, wholemeal or multigrain options for more fibre which makes you feel fuller and also helps energy levels last longer.
Encourage younger children to eat their packed lunch by including naturally brightly coloured foods with different shapes and textures to help them enjoy their food.
Include chopped colourful vegetables that can be eaten with fingers, such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, carrot sticks, pepper strips, baby sweetcorn, radishes and celery sticks.
Include colourful fruit such as satsuma segments, apples, banana, blueberries, pear, grapes raisins, pineapple, melon, peach, nectarines or whatever fruits are in season (please be aware that some fruits including grapes may present a choking hazard and must be cut in half before serving).
Instead of processed cheese sticks and slices, try cutting chunks of cheddar, Emmental or edam cheese. It’s much cheaper to buy a block of cheese and slice it at home, rather than buy individual portions of cheese.
Stick to a small match-box sized serving of cheese as it is a good source of protein, calcium and vitamins but best eaten in smaller portions as it’s also high in saturated fat and salt.
Ready-made pots of jelly can be expensive to buy and it’s really easy to make jelly at home. All you need is some small reusable pots with lids. Look out for ‘real fruit juice’ jelly or ‘sugar free’ jelly options in the supermarket and follow the instructions for making the jelly and then add frozen berries (e.g. blueberries, raspberries, strawberries) or tinned fruit (e.g. mandarin segments, peach slices, pear halves).
Allow to cool, pop the lids on then keep in the fridge. They will keep for up to 5 days, so are perfect for adding to packed lunches!
It is important for children to eat nutritious food at lunchtime. We have worked with a nutritionist and suggest the following for children aged 5-11 years.
Please choose 1 portion from each of the four boxes to make a tasty well balanced lunchbox for your child.
Provides lots of energy and fibre.
Portion size: child’s fist.
Choose 1 portion (wholegrain where possible):
Needed for growth, development and repair of muscles
Portion size: child’s palm
Choose 1 portion:
Contains calcium for healthy teeth and bones
Portion size: child’s thumb
Choose 1 portion:
Vitamins and minerals for good health
Portion size: child’s handful
Choose 1 portion:
Foods high in fat, salt and sugar should not be included in children’s lunchboxes.
Eating too much fat, salt and sugar can lead to tooth decay, heart disease and diabetes.
Water is available at lunchtime, it is free and has lots of health benefits.
|Fatty processed meats. (e.g. hot dog sausage, pepperoni, corned beef, luncheon meat etc.)||SWAP FOR||Lean meat chicken, turkey, tinned tuna (drained)|
|Deep fried samosas||SWAP FOR||Oven baked samosas|
|Butter||SWAP FOR||Low fat spreads|
|Bread rolls||SWAP FOR||Wholemeal bread, wraps or pittas|
|Crisps||SWAP FOR||Salad or carrot and cucumber sticks|
|High sugar and fizzy drinks||SWAP FOR||Water|
|Cakes and chocolate||SWAP FOR||Fresh fruit or tinned fruit in jelly or low fat yoghurt|
Make swapping fun by getting a few swap ingredients together and asking children to design their own snack.
For a savoury swap try:
For a sweet swap try: