As we transition from the relaxed summer break morning into the structured and frantic morning rush that is associated with Back to School morning drop-offs, and the daily task of packing lunches it is more than understandable to see parents reach for the pre-packaged snacks to fill the lunch box.

We all know that a healthy lunch keeps active kids alert and focused and gives them the nutrition they need every day. This often leads to late nights searching the internet for food inspiration that meets the needs of our fussy little eaters.

Let’s face it; lunchtime preparation for school can be overwhelming.

It’s not easy coming up with fresh, healthy child-friendly lunch solutions when you are exhausted in the evenings and rushed in the mornings.

To help you get out of the lunchtime prep blues, we have spoken with our Hunter Primary Care Dietitian Kate Wood, for some handy tips on how she preps lunch for her two primary school-aged kids.

Before you begin: Assemble the tools.

Stock up on air tight storage containers in different shapes and sizes.  This allows foods to be separate from one another and makes recess and lunch breaks easier for our littlies – a separate container for different breaks.

Pack containers in an insulated lunch bag and add cold packs to keep foods cold and fresh until break time.

For further information about food groups suitable for lunch boxes, you can refer to the Nutrition Australia Website, which includes valuable resources like the below table and this handy ‘Whats for lunch?’ Factsheet, which includes a four-day meal plan.

Food Group Nutrients Suitable examples to include in a lunchbox
Breads and cereals Source of carbohydrate  which is a major energy source for the brain and body. All types of bread – whole meal, multigrain, white, pita or other flat breads, fruit loaf.

Rice, pasta, crackerbreads or crispbreads, rice crackers.

Fruit Contains lots of vitamins and fibre. Aim to include 1–2 serves of fruit per day. Fresh whole fruits or cut up and placed in a container. Dried fruit mix, canned fruit.
Vegetables Good source of fibre and vitamins. Vegetable pieces as a snack such as cherry tomatoes, capsicum strips, snow peas, small corn cob or baby corn spears. Carrot, celery and cucumber sticks.

Salad vegetables or coleslaw in a sandwich.

Dairy Major source of calcium.

Include one serve in lunchbox every day.

Low fat milk, cheese or yogurt.
Lean meats, fish, poultry, egg, nuts and legumes  Protein for growing bodies. Cold meats or chicken.

Tinned fish such as salmon, tuna or sardines.

Boiled eggs, baked beans, hommus.

Table source: http://www.nutritionaustralia.org

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