Healthy Lunch Box Snacks

Michelle Theodosi, 10 Dec 2021

Lunch box snacks are an important part of your child’s diet. Healthy snacks are a great way to meet your child’s extra nutritional needs for optimal growth between meals. Snacks also ensure there are regular tops-up of food available for your child to stay energised and primed with enough fuel to power through the day.

Here are some top tips for picking and packing a healthy lunch box snack.

  1. Base snacks on the core food groups

    Before reaching for a packaged snack, get back to basics and choose foods from the core food groups such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and dairy. A great child-friendly and simplified approach is to use the “go” “grow” and “glow” categories:

    “Go” foods are rich in carbohydrates and snack ideas include grainy crackers, plain popcorn, a homemade muesli slice or a slice of wholegrain raisin toast.

    “Grow” foods provide protein for growth and strength. Snacks such as a tub of yoghurt, plain milk poppers, cheese, roasted chickpeas, nut or seed butter like tahini and hummus are easy ideas.

    “Glow” foods include colourful fruits and vegetables and are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Lunch box “glow” snacks can include any fresh fruit, dried fruits like apricots and any vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber or carrots sticks and green beans.

  2. Think like a child

    Choose snacks that are small and easy to eat without too much fuss as these are more likely to be eaten in the midst of playtime. Be mindful of peels and packaging which can become barriers for your child. Peeling mandarins or making sure your child feels confident in opening yoghurt tubs can be the make or break in whether or not snacks are eaten.

  3. Be wary of pre-packaged snacks

    Many pre-packaged snacks at the supermarket are packed with added sugars, unhealthy fats, salt and artificial flavours and colours and preservatives. These provide little benefit in meeting your child’s nutritional requirements. Whilst it is a good idea to avoid unhealthy packaged foods where possible, there is no need to make all snacks from scratch. When looking at packaged snacks, opt for those with few ingredients listed. If the ingredients are those which you know and could put together to create the snack yourself, that is always a good start.

When navigating the nutritional panel, look for:

  • Less than 600kJ per serve
  • Low sugar (<15g sugar per 100g)
  • Low saturated fat (less than 2g saturated fat per 100g)
  • High fibre (more than 3g per serve)
  • Low salt (less than 120mg to 400mg sodium per 100g)

For some healthy snack inspiration, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Chopped veggie sticks with tzatziki, hummus or your child’s favourite dip
  • Mini egg and veggie frittatas
  • Grainy crackers with cheese
  • Roasted chickpeas, either homemade or lightly salted packaged options
  • Easy to grab fresh fruit such as grapes or orange wedges

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