My top ten tips for packing a healthy and balanced lunchbox for your kids, plus one week’s worth of school lunchbox ideas.
Kids are usually so active at school, and their little bodies are growing at a rapid rate. It’s important to take care with what we pack in our kids lunch box and to be sure that it’s filled with nutritious snacks and food to keep them recharged for the afternoon. Packing a nutritious lunch can help them concentrate better in class and gives them more energy to get through the school day.
Packing school lunches can become rather tedious and I sometimes struggle to be creative every day. I remember I used to love lunch times at school and seeing what snacks my mum packed for me. Kids love variety and don’t like to be bored. Below I share some of my top tips for packing a healthy lunchbox for kids and I have also included one week of lunchbox ideas, with a printable to help you plan a week of healthy lunchboxes for your kids.
10 Tips for a Balanced Healthy Lunchbox
1. MAKE IT EASY – The key is to provide food that’s easy for them to eat and to provide it in lunchboxes that are easy for kids to open. For example, if their little fingers struggle to peel a mandarin, then peel it at home so it’s ready to go at lunchtime.
3. FRUIT AND VEGETABLES – Include a mix of fruit and vegetables in lunchboxes to boost nutrition and make sure the kids are getting their essential vitamins and minerals. Add in some vegetable sticks with avocado or hummus for an element of crunch.
4. HEALTHY BALANCE – School lunches should have a balance of all of the food groups. When packing lunch use the guide below to help ensure your child is enjoying a healthy and balanced school lunch.
5. GO FOR WATER – It’s so important to teach your kids to stay hydrated! We need around 8 glasses of fluid each day and water is the best choice. Packing a water bottle with their lunch is the best way for them to develop the habit of staying hydrated and helps remind them to drink regularly.
6. IS IT ALLERGY FRIENDLY? – Food based allergies including peanuts, dairy, gluten, egg etc can be life-threatening. Many schools have food policies to reduce the risk of accidental exposure. We as parents play an important role by following these policies and packing food products that are safe. Keep up to date with your schools policy.
7. PREP AHEAD – Chop carrot sticks or dice fruit while you are prepping dinner, this will save you time!
8. PLAN A BAKING SESSION – Add homemade baked muffins, biscuits, etc to lunchboxes for a treat. Homemade snacks can be a healthier alternative to the ones you find in store (and yummier too!). I freeze all our baking and then place it into the kids’ school lunchboxes frozen – they’re always defrosted by morning tea time. For HEAPS of freezable recipe ideas perfect for school, check out my Lunch Box Recipe Cookbook.
9. PACK THE NIGHT BEFORE – If you find you’re rushed in the school mornings, consider packing the lunches the night before. This will give you enough time to make a balanced and healthy lunchbox. Get the kids to help you, if they do they will be more inclined to eat it all too! Read more: How to create Chaos Free School Mornings.
10. KEEP IT COOL – It’s important to pack foods and snacks that will stay fresh for the duration of a school day. Food spoilage can result in illness and can make your children hesitant to eat. A great idea to keep the lunchbox cool is to add a freezer block in their lunch bag to keep the food fresh all day.
Make a Plan: Before you do your weekly shop, create a plan of what you want to pack in the lunchbox for the week and add the items to your grocery list. To have all the food on hand will ensure that the kids have a healthy lunch for each day at school and won’t be reaching for sweet food at the back of the pantry, or into your pocket for tuck-shop money.
A Week Of School Lunchbox Ideas
Are you stuck for lunchbox ideas? Want to make the lunchbox nutritionally balanced, but also fun and appealing for the kids? I’m here to help with these five daily lunchbox ideas below.
DAY 1 – MONDAY
- Cherry tomatoes
- Cucumber slices
- Snap peas
- Cheese cubes
- Cheesy Bacon and Vegetable Muffins
DAY 2 – TUESDAY
- Cherry tomatoes
- Baby cucumber slices
- Crackers and cheese
- Lunch-punched Vegemite sandwich
DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY
- Kiwi fruit and raspberries
- Cheese cubes
- Mini Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
- Mac and Cheese with Ham (could also use a store-bought version)
DAY 4 – THURSDAY
- Mandarin pieces
- Chicken and salad wrap
- Bliss balls – I used this Almond and Pumpkin Seed Bliss Ball recipe, and replaced the almonds with a cup of rolled oats so that they were nut-free.
DAY 5 – FRIDAY
- Cheese cubes
- Salad – lettuce, cherry tomato and cucumber
- Homemade Beef and Vegetable Sausage Rolls + tomato sauce
A BONUS IDEA!
- Blueberries and raspberries with white chocolate chips
- Wholegrain mini rice cakes with mashed avocado
- Carrot sticks
- Ham, cheese and lettuce sandwich