Fuel for school: Building an ideal lunchbox

Fuel for school: Building an ideal lunchbox

Here are five great examples of healthy, tasty school lunches. By nutritionists Zoe Wilson and Brigid Chunn.

These five great lunchbox options (one for every day of the week) will give your child:

  • at least one serve of vegetables, fruit and dairy
  • a good source of protein
  • a good source of fibre.

To keep lunchbox items stored safely until eaten, we have included ‘ice-block’ suggestions to keep food cool. On days when there isn’t a ‘freeze’ option, use a chiller pack. And invest in a range of small containers to house things such as dips or vege sticks to make school lunches exciting and keep any ‘junk’ food to a minimum.

Lunchbox option 1

  • Protein: Yoplait Go-Gurt Yoghurt tube (freeze)
  • Wholegrain carbohydrates and protein: Small piece of quiche made with wholemeal flour and salmon with some cherry tomatoes
  • Fruit: Wattie’s Go Fruity™ Diced Peaches in Juice
  • Snack: 2 Ryvita Wholegrain Rye Crispbreads (Pumpkin Seeds & Oats) with no-added-sugar-or-salt peanut butter

Nutrition notes

  • One serve vegetables, fruit and dairy
  • High in protein
  • 102mg calcium in Yoplait Go-Gurt
  • Ryvita adds fibre
  • Salmon quiche provides an omega-3 boost

Lunchbox option 2

  • Protein: The Laughing Cow Cheez Dippers
  • Wholegrain carbohydrates and protein: Grainy bread roll with leftover roast chicken, lettuce and reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • Fruit: Just Juice With Veges (freeze)
  • Snack: Vege sticks and a small container (1/2 cup) Kellogg’s Sultana Bran Buds

Nutrition notes

  • One serve vegetables, fruit and dairy
  • High in protein
  • 203mg calcium boost from Cheez Dippers
  • Grainy bread roll adds whole grains and fibre for digestive health
  • An extra serve of veges to boost fibre and vitamins
  • Bran Buds for extra fibre, B vitamins, iron and zinc

Other ideas

  • Mash hard-boiled eggs with mayonnaise and chopped fresh parsley. Spread on lightly-buttered wholemeal bread.
  • Try small grainy rolls with avocado, turkey and cranberry or tuna, avocado and lettuce, or roast beef, chutney and tomato.
  • Split bagels and fill with reduced-fat cream cheese, smoked salmon and cucumber. For the more adventurous, add dill or capers.
  • Wean white bread fanatics onto the more filling, lasting grainy bread with rainbow sandwiches — one slice white and one or two slices grain. With three slices of bread you can keep fillings separate which may appeal to some children.

Lunchbox option 3

  • Protein: Up & Go Liquid Breakfast (Vanilla Ice)
  • Wholegrain carbohydrates and protein: Wrap made with a tuna, corn and reduced-fat mayonnaise mix and shredded lettuce
  • Fruit: Frozen grapes (freeze)
  • Snack: Be Natural Trail Bar 5 Whole Grains (Fruit & Nut)

Nutrition notes

  • One serve vegetables, fruit and dairy
  • High in protein
  • An omega-3 boost from tuna
  • 400mg calcium boost in Up & Go
  • An extra 4g fibre in Trail Bar

Other ideas

  • Fill pita bread with hummus, grated carrot or pesto, cottage cheese and alfalfa sprouts.
  • Spread fruit or walnut bread with soft feta, extra-light ricotta cheese or reduced-fat cream cheese.

Lunchbox option 4

  • Protein: Bega Stringers
  • Wholegrain carbohydrates and protein: Pita pocket filled with smashed boiled egg, tomato, lettuce and grated carrot
  • Fruit: Sun-Maid Raisins mini snack pack
  • Snack: Cheesy ham and corn mini muffin

Nutrition notes

  • One serve vegetables, fruit and dairy
  • High in protein
  • Fibre (mini muffin)
  • Bega Stringers provide 130mg calcium

Other ideas

  • Keep serves small. Two mini-rolls or bagels look more appealing than one big one. Slice sandwiches in triangles or three fingers.
  • Some children are very happy with just Marmite or peanut butter. When buying peanut butter, choose no-added-sugar-or-salt peanut butter.
  • Cheese crunchies: spread leftover bread with Marmite and grated cheese, slice and bake in oven until crunchy. Great for kids who don’t like sandwiches.

Lunchbox option 5

  • Protein: Fresh‘n Fruity Lite yoghurt
  • Wholegrain carbohydrates and protein: Wholegrain crispbread with Marmite and sliced reduced-fat cheese with vege sticks on the side
  • Fruit: Annies Fruit Leather (Boysenberry)
  • Snack: Homemade pita chips (pita bread baked and broken into pieces) with a small tub of hummus

Nutrition notes

  • One serve vegetables, fruit and dairy
  • High in protein
  • Calcium boost from yoghurt
  • Extra B vitamins from Marmite

Beyond sandwiches

It doesn’t matter how creative you get with sandwiches, eating them day-in day-out can get boring. For a change, try these:

  • Sushi
  • Brown rice salad with currants, nuts, celery, grated carrot
  • Leftover pasta
  • Quiche or frittata baked in large muffin pans
  • Soup in a thermos
  • Mini meatballs with a small container of tomato sauce or salsa
  • Vegetable patties — try salmon and corn fritters or grated vegetable patties
  • Vita-Weat crackers with no-added-sugar-or-salt peanut butter or Marmite
  • Hard-boiled egg — peel for young children, decorate the shell for older kids
  • Pizza made on small pita bread
  • Small can tuna (for older children) packed with a few cherry tomatoes, some avocado in its skin (and a small fork)
  • Small can baked beans
  • Leftover fried rice
Author: Brigid Chunn

Healthy Food Guide

First published: Feb 2012

2018-01-25 14:38:02

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