Welcome to part two of our back to school series in collaboration with Mintie Lunchboxes. You can find part one here where we talked about children’s nutritional needs to get them through busy school days feeling full of energy.

Here’s a simple formula that we keep in mind when packing lunchboxes to make sure we’ve got all of the nutrition bases covered. Pick one or two foods from each section below: Protein + healthy fats + complex carbs + fruit and veggies + water. Using this formula will create a lunchbox that’s well-balanced, nutritious and satisfying. It will fill children up and provide them with all the energy and nutrients they need to keep them going throughout the afternoon.

Feel free to tailor to what your children like and what you’ve got in the fridge / cupboards.

Protein

cubes of cheese
falafels
sweet chickpea balls
frittata
hummus

edamame beans
smoked salmon
cubes of chicken
hard-boiled egg
crispy chickpeas

greek yoghurt
chia pudding
sweetcorn fritters
hemp seeds
halloumi

lentils
nuts and seeds
nut and seed butter

Protein is essential for the body’s growth and repair which is super important for our fast-growing children. It’s one of the fundamental building blocks for muscle development as well as being important for children’s growing immune systems and brains. Children need protein on a daily basis so include one or two of these in their lunchbox every day.

Healthy Fats

olives
olive oil
nuts and seeds
nut butter

seed butter (tahini)
fish and meat
cheese
cream cheese

nat unsweetened yoghurt
avocado
guacamole

coconut
coconut yoghurt
energy balls

Fat has many functions in the body including growth and development of the brain and nervous system, building hormones and helping the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Healthy fats have been shown to improve attention and decrease hyperactivity, impulsiveness and restlessness in children. Pick one or two from the list each day.

Complex Carbs

vegetables
oats
oatcakes
chickpeas

beans
lentils
sweet potato wedges

wholewheat pasta
nuts and seeds
brown rice
quinoa

wholegrain bread or wraps
flatbreads
crackers

Complex carbohydrates are a great source of energy, which children need a lot of during the school day. My preference is to get most of the complex carbs from plant sources like veggies, oats, chickpeas etc. but if you’re including pasta or bread then opt for wholegrain types rather than white which will provide longer-lasting energy.

Fruit and Veg

cherry tomatoes
celery
red pepper
carrot sticks

cucumber slices
raw sugar snaps
roasted broccoli
sweet potato wedges

green beans
peas
roast beetroot
sweetcorn fritter

avocado
edamame beans
olives

berries
apple
melon
grapes

banana
kiwi
coconut
satsuma

pear
peach
plum
pineapple

mango
orange

Mix and match the fruit and veg you pack in your children’s lunchbox to get a range of vitamins and minerals in there. Giving children a couple of portions of their daily fruit and veg in their lunchbox is a great way to care for their bodies and minds – helping their immune systems to work effectively, supporting their brains and providing long-lasting energy.

Aim for a minimum of 2 portions each day in the lunchbox – with one of them being a vegetable. As a rough guide, one portion will be about the size of the palm of their hand.

Something to dip into

These dips are all loaded with protein, good fats, and sustaining carbs to promote healthy growth and development. Dips are an optional add-on but I find children always love having something to dip their crackers or veg sticks into.

To keep things interesting, consider textures and variety – put something crunchy (cracker) with something soft (avocado), something juicy (melon) and something chewy (dried fruit). Chop veg and fruit in different shapes and sizes.

Drinks

Always pack a full water bottle with the lunchbox and encourage your children to drink it throughout the day. Water is the most hydrating drink, and the only one we recommend packing for school. As an occasional alternative, you could pack coconut water, milk, a green smoothie or our fruit soda.

Recipes

Sweetcorn Fritters

These little fritters combine protein-rich eggs and fibre from the sweetcorn to make a delicious lunchbox alternative to sandwiches. They are quick to make, fun to eat and taste great cold with a little pot of guacamole, some cherry tomatoes and cubes of halloumi.

see the recipe

Sweet Potato Wedges

Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse – packed full of beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin a) and a great source of vitamins b1, b2, b6 and c, copper, manganese, potassium, dietary fibre and phosphorus.

see the recipe

Green Pea Dip

The humble pea contains lots of vitamin c, protein and fibre, making it a great addition to the lunchbox. If you’ve always got a bag of frozen peas on hand then you can whip this up in minutes.

see the recipe

more lunchbox ideas…

tried this recipe? let us know what you think

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