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 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.
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 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
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.
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.