Can’t wait to get back to school… but that means lunch boxes to fill!

Here are a few ideas for filling those boxes. As a general rule, including some fruit, vegetables, protein and carbohydrate provides a good balance.

Fruit

  • Sometimes peeling or cutting fruit can increase the chances of it being eaten.
  • Try a small handful of dried fruit for variety.
  • Aim for two serves a day (click here for details on serving sizes for your child’s age).
  • Buying fruit and vegetables in season means they are cheaper and taste better. Click here to see what is fresh in Melbourne throughout the year.

Vegetables

  • It’s difficult to get the recommended five serves all in at dinner, so aim for a serve or two in the box or at afternoon tea.
  • Think carrot, cucumber, celery, capsicum, cherry tomatoes, beans, and snow peas. Salad in sandwiches and wraps can work well too.
  • Serving crunchy vegetables with dips can increase the appeal.
  • We often encourage kids to eat a vegetable rainbow.
    The ‘I ate a rainbow’ song from the Teeny Tiny Stevies helps to set the challenge.

Protein

  • Cheese, yoghurt, cold meat or meatballs, hard boiled eggs, omelette and lentils and beans added to salads, sandwiches and wraps.
  • Nuts are for after school, chew well and not for under 5s.

Carbohydrate

  • Bread, wraps, rolls, pita pockets, mountain bread, pikelets, pancakes, scones, focaccia, croissants, and bagels.
  • Sauces and spreads can spice things up (dips, avocado, relish, pickles, cream cheese).
  • Try dry biscuits or rice/corn cakes as a crunchy alternative to bread.
  • Fruit bread can be toasted or buttered as a sandwich.
  • Sushi, rice balls, or rice/potato/pasta salad. Some kids love plain cold pasta!
  • Stale bread can become croutons or bread sticks (slice, drizzle with olive oil and bake until crunchy).

Other general tips are:

  • Nothing wrong with last nights leftovers either (pizza, fried rice, tacos).
  • And anything you can bake and freeze is a winner. Whip it out in the morning as an instant box filler. Muffins (fruit or savoury with cheese), biscuits, bliss balls, banana or fruit cake, and zucchini or vegetable quiche/slice/frittata.
  • Involving kids in lunch box decisions can really improve how much they eat.
  • For younger kids, it helps not to overfill lunch boxes as large quantities can overwhelm them.
  • And remember the lunch box can be presented again for afternoon tea!
  • Water is the best drink for kids.
  • And, please be aware of allergies in your class group when packing lunch boxes.
  • It’s important to prepare and store lunch foods safely. Ice packs can help keep food cool.
  • Buying in bulk and limiting food with wrappers and packets also helps reduce waste.