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Lunch Box Ideas

 healthy packed lunch box

A healthy lunch keeps active kids alert and focused and gives them the nutrition they need every day. But no matter how healthy your child’s lunch box is, it won’t provide any nutritional value if it doesn’t get eaten!

The solution is to make packed lunches as interesting and nutritious as possible – and to encourage your child to be involved in filling their own lunchbox from a range of healthy options.It doesn’t have to be difficult, time-consuming or expensive. For example; sandwiches and rolls – a favourite among lots of kids – are simple and easy to prepare. Here are some simple, tasty and nutritious ideas for you to try when preparing your child’s lunchbox.

What to put in the lunchbox

A good helping of fruit and vegetables

Fresh fruit is easy to pack.  You can also try a tub of canned fruit or chopped fresh strawberries, pineapple or melon.  Raw vegies such as carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber or capsicum strips are popular as a snack or in a sandwich.

Starchy food

like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. Have a variety to choose from, such as wholegrain, wholemeal or high fibre breads, such as seeded rolls, Lebanese bread, pita, lavash, bagels; brown and white rice; or tricolour pasta.

Lean protein

like tuna or salmon (fresh or canned in spring water or oils such as canola, sunflower or olive oil); boiled eggs; beans; or lean meat such as beef or chicken

Reduced fat dairy food

like reduced fat yoghurt, reduced fat cheese or reduced fat milk

A bottle of water

to keep your child hydrated all day.  Freeze on hot days to keep the lunch box (and your child) nice and cool.

Healthy choices

look at food labels to help you choose the products that are lowest in saturated fat, total fat, sugar and salt. Avoid high fat spreads and try a little avocado, low fat mayonnaise, mustard or ricotta cheese instead.

Nutritious snacks

such as small box or bag of dried fruit, rice cakes or unsalted and unsweetened popcorn.

And remember:Treats like chocolate or chips should only be included occasionally, not every day. 

Practical tips

  • Include a frozen bottle of water during summer. It will still be cold at lunchtime and keep the food cool too.
  • During hot weather, avoid milk, yoghurt, fish or meat in lunches, unless they are packed in a good-quality cooler with an ice pack/frozen water bottle (to prevent food poisoning).
  • Wash and dry salad vegetables thoroughly to avoid ‘soggy sandwiches’.
  • Don’t forget a spoon when packing yoghurt or tubs of fruit (otherwise it will end up on the floor or on your child’s clothes).
  • For busy families, prepare lunchboxes and sandwiches the night before and store them in the fridge to ensure your child always has a healthy lunch with them.
  • Wash, rinse and thoroughly dry lunchboxes after every use to keep them safe and clean.

When it just isn’t working

If your child doesn’t eat their lunch, ask yourself:

  • Is the lunch box wrong? Your child might prefer a brown paper bag or the latest type of lunch box.
  • Is lunch boring? Try to pack a different lunch every day. For younger children, try cutting the sandwiches in different ways. Is it too much? If so, offer smaller servings. Half a sandwich might be more appropriate than a whole one.
  • Is it too fiddly? Some children are put off by fiddly packaging or don't like getting sticky hands. Try removing the orange peel or cut a kiwi in half and add a spoon. 

And if all else fails... Try to make sure that your child at least has a nutritious breakfast and dinner - and trust that they'll eat when they are hungry.
Source: Adapted from Lunch box tips, Better Health Channel, Victoria see below