Leading Australian nutritionist Susie Burrell shares her top tips on creating a lunchbox that's full of goodness.
Children consume up to 30% of their daily food while they are at school, so it is important that school lunchboxes contain the right mix of foods for good nutrition and fullness, particularly after they’ve been at home for the past few months. The trick for parents is finding the right balance between good nutrition and foods that children want to eat when packing a school lunchbox.
A well- balanced lunchbox should include:
1) Sandwich, wrap or crackers
Remember that wholegrain and whole meal varieties of breads and crisp breads are best. Try to also
include a protein rich filling such as Tassal smoked salmon, ham, chicken breast or egg on sandwiches as the protein helps to keep kids full throughout the afternoon.
2) Piece of fruit
Fresh fruit is always best as dried fruit, fruit juice, fruit sticks and straps are high in sugar and digested quickly.
3) Dairy food
Dairy foods including milk, cheese and yoghurt provide both calcium and protein for healthy bones,
teeth and growth.
Aim for snacks to contain 400kJ per serve and options that are made from whole grains.
Water should always be the drink of choice for children. Fruit juice, cordial and flavoured waters are high in sugar and not consumed regularly.
Research on Australian children’s lunchboxes has found that on average children are consuming three packaged snacks such as muesli bars, cheese and dip packs, fruit twists, potato chips and snack bars, which is too many. Snack foods are often highly processed food choices that offer little nutritionally. For this reason, it is suggested that at most children consume one packaged snack food each day. Good snack food choices contain dietary fibre, whole grains and/or protein and contain 400kJ per serve.
If you're worried that your child’s lunchbox does not contain enough “fun” foods, consider letting your child choose his/her snacks once each week and negotiate healthy choices for the remainder of
To keep lunchboxes at the right temperature, look for freezer style cooler packs or try freezing an ice block or tetra style drink and pack with the lunch to keep it fresh. This is especially important with protein rich sandwich and wrap fillings such as Tassal smoked salmon or egg which need to be kept cool. One of the biggest issues in relation to children’s lunchbox choices is that they have too much choice. Limit your child’s choice to just one or two food items to avoid starting a never-ending negotiation about all the different type of food that you can include in the lunchbox.