How to have a healthy lunch box week

Planning your family’s meals for the week is a cost effective, time saving and hassle free way to ensure your children have nutritious food to eat every day of the week. And by discussing with your child which healthy foods they prefer to eat, involving them in shopping for and/or preparing their meals, food does not end up squashed at the bottom of a bag or in a bin.

Planning a healthy lunch box

Aim to include at least one food item from each of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating food groups in your child’s lunch box every day.

Vegetables and salads

  • Salads - tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, celery, lettuce
  • Vegetables - stir fried, corn on the cob, capsicum slices
  • Low fat potato salads

Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties

  • Sliced bread, bread rolls (preferably wholegrain or wholemeal)
  • Pita/pocket bread
  • Lavash bread (wraps)
  • Fruit/raisin bread
  • English muffin
  • Pasta or noodles
  • Rice (preferably brown)
  • Plain crackers, crisp bread or rice cakes

Fruit

  • Piece of whole or chopped fresh fruit e.g. apple, orange or banana
  • Fruit salad e.g. container filled with grapes, strawberries, melon, apple or orange
  • Tinned fruit e.g. pears or peaches
  • Dried fruit e.g. packet of sultanas

Dairy - Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly low fat for children over 2 years of age

  • Chilled long life milk popper
  • Yoghurt tub or popper, preferably plain
  • Cheese slices or stick

Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans

  • Sliced lean meats - lamb, ham, chicken, beef, turkey
  • Boiled eggs
  • Tuna/Salmon (fresh or tinned)
  • Baked beans
  • Lentils – including chickpeas, butter beans, etc

Drinks

  •  Include a bottle of water every day

Packing a healthy lunch box

A healthy lunch box contains four items.

  • Main item, such as a sandwich/wrap/roll, rice, pasta or vegetables, soup, egg and vegetable frittata, sushi or homemade English muffin pizza
  • Fruit or vegetable snack, such as whole fruit, cut up veggie sticks or canned fruit
  • Second snack such as reduced fat yoghurt, grainy crackers with reduced fat cheese, plain popcorn, a slice of raisin bread, a boiled egg or can of tuna
  • A bottle of tap water or plain, long life milk to drink

Make sure you include an icebrick in your child’s lunch box to keep the food cool and safe to eat.

Information supplied by NAQ Nutrition (formerly trading as Nutrition Australia QLD).

For further information, recipe, snack and sandwich filling ideas, food safety tips and menu planning tools visit the Food Smart Schools website – www.foodsmartschools.org

National Nutrition Week is held from October 12 to October 18. This year’s theme is “Cook.Eat.Enjoy". Take up the Nutrition Week challenge at www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/national-nutrition-week 

Share your experiences and encourage colleagues, family and friends to take the pledge by tagging #cookeatenjoy and #NNW2014 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.