1. Wholegrains – The most important thing when putting together a healthy lunchbox is a good source of carbohydrates for energy. This could come in the form of the good ol’ sandwich, but could also be a wrap (made from flatbread) or savoury biscuits (crackers) or rice/corn cakes. Wholegrain varieties of these foods are processed more slowly by the body than processed white varieties and will give them that full feeling for longer.
2. Protein & vegetables – Their protein portion is always best if it’s lean protein. You can get chicken and ham that are very low in fat and there’s also all of those different types of tuna available now or some low fat cheese. The protein will assist them with concentration in the afternoon, which we can all understand! Vegetables and salad will add vitamins, minerals and fibre which will also help them feel full. Be careful not to put anything in that will make a sandwich soggy by lunchtime. No-one likes a soggy sandwich!
3. Fruit – Vitamins, minerals and more fibre. Mix it up a little too with fresh fruit, containers of fruit in natural juice or small packets of dried fruit. If they really hate something, best to try and help them find something they do like otherwise they won’t eat it.
4. Water – It’s good to encourage them to always drink water. It is the best choice for staying hydrated. After all, we’re made up of so much of it, our bodies love it. Cordials and juices often have a lot of sugar. If you find a juice that’s low in added sugar, maybe add it to the rotation.
5. Snack – It’s always a good idea to include a nutritious snack that they enjoy or they might be swapping their lunch for something else. Look at options like low-fat flavoured milk, low-fat cookies, cheese and crackers or yoghurt. If you are going to look at ‘bars’ as a snack option, choose carefully by taking into account the size, go for ones that are lower in calories and based on wholegrains and have some dietary fibre, preferably at least 4g of fibre per 100g.