Lunchbox Basics

Lunchbox Basics

Do you feel lunchboxes are the worst thing about the school year? Do you feel pressured to pack those Instagram worthy gourmet delights or fear judgment from your child’s teacher or other parents about what you pack for your child?

Here are the basics on packing a lunchbox for your child.

Pack enough to fill them up

As your child is at school for several hours a day, they need enough food and energy to learn and play. You know your child best, so pack enough of what you think they may need. If food comes home, it may have been because they were not as hungry that day or playtime was more important than eating. It is good to think about what your child eats over the whole day or a week before you get too concerned about how much or what they eat at school.

Include different types of food

Children need food from the five food groups to grow and keep well. This means foods made from grains, vegetables, fruit, meat and meat alternatives and dairy foods. What that food looks like will be different for every child and family. The food eaten at school time is an opportunity for children to eat what they need from the food groups.

The basic steps are:

  1. Pack a main lunch item – this can be anything from dinner leftovers, a soup or a sandwich. It may be the same every day or something different depending on your child (and what you have in the fridge).
  2. Pack vegetables and fruit. Some schools have a set fruit and vegetable break.
  3. Pack some snacks like cheese and crackers, dips, popcorn or meatballs.  How much and which snacks you send will depend on your own child.
  4. Pack a water bottle.

Check out our lunchbox ideas here. For young children the best tip is to keep it simple. For older children they may become more adventurous in their choices and the amount they eat may increase.

Are lollies, chips and sweet biscuits in the lunchbox ok?

We know these types of high sugar, salt and fatty foods are a big part of what many children are eating. It is a parent’s choice about what food to send to school but consider if these foods really need to go in the lunchbox. You may prefer to eat these foods as part of your family’s meals and snacks at home.  If you are sending certain foods as a ‘treat’ or a bribe, you could look at other ways to show you care, like choosing which park to go to, or make time to do something special together.

What about packet food?

It is normal to have those days when food and time is running short so you grab mostly packet food. Do not be hard on yourself. Store bought options like fruit bread, crackers, yoghurts and dips can make lunchbox packing a little easier.