School meals are a great choice for your child, but if you choose to make a packed lunch for them instead here are some tips for preparing a healthier lunchbox.
What to include in your child's lunchbox
A healthier lunchbox should:
- be based on starchy carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, rice, pasta)
- include fresh fruit and vegetables/salad
- include a source of protein such as beans and pulses, eggs, fish, meat, cheese (or dairy alternative)
- include a side dish such as a low-fat and lower-sugar yoghurt (or dairy alternative), tea cake, fruit bread, plain rice/corn cakes, homemade plain popcorn, sugar-free jelly
- include a drink such as water, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, sugar-free or no-added-sugar drinks
The Eatwell Guide shows you how to have a healthy balanced diet and can help you decide what to put in your child's lunchbox.
Find healthy lunchbox ideas at Change4Life.
Healthier breaktime snacks
Children often like food they can eat with their fingers. Try these ideas:
- Chop up raw veggies – such as carrots or peppers, and give them hummus or cottage cheese to dip the veggies in.
- Chop up fruit – such as apple, satsuma segments, strawberries, blueberries, halved grapes or melon slices. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to stop them from going brown.
- Breadsticks and wholemeal crackers –make great finger foods. Try spreading low-fat soft cheese on them.
- Choose malt loaf, tea cakes, fruit breads or fruit – instead of cake, chocolate, cereal bars and biscuits. Fruit can be fresh or canned (in juice, not syrup).
Dried fruit is not recommended as a snack between meals as it's high in sugar and can be bad for teeth, but it's OK when eaten as part of a meal.
Try these ideas for healthy food swaps.
More healthy lunchbox tips
It may take a while for your child to get used to a healthier lunchbox but keep trying. These tips may help:
- Get your children involved in preparing and choosing what goes in their lunchbox. They're more likely to eat it if they helped prepare it.
- Get ideas on how to introduce more fruit and veg into your family's diet.
- Read supermarket food labels to help you buy healthier foods for your child's lunch and family mealtimes.
Learn more about healthy eating.