How to make kids' lunchboxes healthy

Corinne Renshaw, Nutritionist – Coles Supermarkets
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
How to pack a healthy kid's lunchbox

Packing a healthy lunchbox for your kids is easy when you know what will give them fuel, without resorting to sugary snacks. Variation is the key to ensuring that lunchboxes aren't full of things that kids don't want. Try getting them involved in making their lunches so they feel more obliged to eat them and learn some skills in the kitchen at the same time.

Cereals

Whether it's a sandwich, pita pocket or pasta salad, choose wholegrain or wholemeal varieties to add fibre and extra vitamins and minerals. Fibre helps make us feel full and energy is released slowly, which is ideal for active kids.

Protein

Try and include a good source of protein, preferably rich in iron such as red meat. Fillings in sandwiches or wraps are a good way to include protein in lunches. For vegetarians, eggs, nuts and legume based fillings are also good options but be mindful of added fat.

Vegetables

If your kids don't like salad, grated carrot and other sandwich fillings try including baby carrots, celery sticks or vegetable fritters as an alternative. On a cold day a small flask of vegetable soup with a wholegrain roll is a nutritious option which adds variety.

Fruit

A serve of fruit provides antioxidants, vitamins and folate (which helps produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anaemia. Choose fruit that is high in vitamin C to increase iron absorption. Good sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits and kiwi fruit. If you always find the fruit coming home add some variation with dried or canned fruit (in juice not syrup), grapes, berries, sliced melon, fruit salad or kebabs.

Dairy

Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium, protein and B12. Fruit yogurt or low fat custard bottles are perfect for a lunchbox; try them frozen for a cool summer snack.

Hydration

Water is the best choice to stay hydrated but milk is also good. Occasionally fruit juice can be given but it is best to avoid making this the norm. Try to avoid fizzy drinks and sports drinks as they are very high in sugar. Flavoured milk is a better alternative for a treat.

Quick snack

Snacks are good to include especially if your child plays a lot of sport or doesn't like sitting down to eat lunch. Healthy snacks include fruit (grapes and berries are a convenient option), nuts, dried fruit, low fat cheese, rice crackers or popcorn.

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