After weeks of holidays, the return of early mornings and school runs can be daunting. Somewhere between showering, breakfasting and packing school bags, you’ll need to find a spare minute for preparing school lunch boxes. And, balancing fussy eating behaviours with your school’s healthy guidelines may seem like an impossible task.
These guidelines will inspire you to create a balanced lunch with all the nutrients your child needs to grow and develop, making your classroom teacher proud. Plus, the suggestions are 100% fussy-eater friendly!
According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines for children aged 4-11, the number of servings required each day from each of the five core food group required are as follows:
Vegetables: 4-5 servings
Fruit: 1.5-2 servings
Wholegrains: 4-5 servings
Dairy: 2-3 servings
Meat and meat alternatives: 1.5-2.5 servings
With these guidelines in mind, the recommendation is that school lunch boxes offer the following:
Vegetables: 2 serves
Fruit: 1 serve
Wholegrains: 2 serves
Dairy: 1 serve
Meat and meat alternatives: 0.5 - 1 serve
What about snacks, like muesli bars, chips and chocolate? Of course, these foods are not necessary for your child’s health, and offering foods from the five core food groups is preferable. However, the Australian Dietary Guidelines do allow up to 3 serves per day for children with higher energy requirements (i.e. taller or more physically active).
Purchase a lunch box that doubles as a cooler bag. This will ensure packed items stay fresh in school lockers, particularly dairy and meat products. Don’t feel pressured to change everything up each day.your child won’t mind repetition, especially with favourite items! Include one serve of ‘healthy’ snack foods per lunchbox, for active children and don’t forget to check to see whether your school has any allergy policies, for example, no peanuts.
Wholegrain wrap with lettuce, and egg salad (mashed egg with celery, spring onion and a dash of mayonnaise)
Small fruit-flavoured low-sugar yoghurt, or natural yoghurt with a swirl of honey
Chopped carrot and wholegrain crackers with hummus
Wholegrain sandwich with smoked salmon, cream cheese, spinach and cucumber
Sweet cherry/perino tomatoes
Muesli bar, such as Carmen’s Original Fruit Free or Super Berry (or Kez’s Kitchen Free and Naked raw bars (all are peanut-free).
Leftovers from dinner (i.e. frittata, meatloaf or pasta bolognese, making sure the recipe includes vegetables)
Sandwiched wholegrain crackers with butter and sliced cheese
Cut up cucumber and fresh grapes
Homemade banana, oat and choc chip cookies
Wholegrain roll with leftover roast chicken, avocado, tomato and lettuce
Cut up watermelon and cantaloupe
Small tub of natural yoghurt with fresh blueberries
Homemade carrot or zucchini muffin