Building a Healthy Lunchbox

Packing a healthy lunch box for your child can feel like an overwhelming task. The food we include in our child’s lunch box can contribute up to one-third of their daily intake of nutrients, talk about pressure! So how can we feel confident that our child’s lunchbox has the nutritious food they need? A great place to start is the “go”, “grow” and “glow” method.

  • “Go” foods are those rich in carbohydrates that provide the energy children need to run, play, jump and concentrate. Examples include bread, pasta, noodles, rice, cereals and snacks like plain popped corn, crackers and some muesli bars. Choose whole-grain varieties which contain more fibre and nutrients and break down slower to give your child longer-lasting energy across the day.
  • “Grow” foods are protein-rich foods that support healthy growth and strong bones, muscles and teeth. These include meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, yoghurt and cheese or plant-based alternatives like tofu, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy milk. Lunch box friendly ideas include canned tuna, boiled eggs, baked beans and hummus.
  • “Glow” foods are all the different coloured fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals essential for glowing skin, shiny hair, strong nails and a robust immune system. Choose the whole form over juices or dried varieties as these are lower in concentrated sugars and retain the fibre needed to support your child’s digestive health and regular bowels.

To start with, try aiming for three “glow” foods, two “go” foods and at least one “grow” food. This will ensure your child is receiving a wide variety of foods and the balance of nutrients they need to thrive at school. If your child is hungrier or going through a growth spurt, you may need more from each group and that is okay! Just be sure to include foods from each group for balance. Here are some Dietitian-approved ideas to get you started:

  • Chicken, lettuce and grated carrot wrap with apple slices and a plain milk popper
  • Leftover fried rice made using eggs, peas and corn with plain popped corn and a banana
  • Cheese and cucumber sandwich with grapes, grainy crackers, carrots sticks and hummus
  • Leftover pasta mixed through chickpeas, tomato and beetroot with fruit, muesli and yoghurt
By using this simple and stress-free method, you can feel confident in tackling lunch box anxiety even in the most chaotic of mornings. If you are after more personalised support for your child and family’s individual needs, book in with an Accredited Practising Dietitian such as Michelle Theodosi, from The Lifestyle Dietitian.