Bento style lunch boxes are so popular now because they allow for a variety of foods to be packaged together which ultimately gives your child more choice at eating times.

Here’s a simple framework to create a school lunch for your child that ticks the all the nutrition boxes:

  • Vegetables – these are a must, even if you think your child won’t eat them, still include some simple low cost veg like carrot sticks or cucumber – exposure is key and your child may be more likely to try foods at school where there is no pressure to eat.
  • Fruit – the trick here is choosing fruit that travels and keeps well – no-one is going to eat bruised, mushy or browned fruit. Whole fruit with thick skin works best – banana, mandarin, orange, apple. If you’d prefer to send cut apple, soaking in a weak salt solution for a few minutes will minimise the browning
  • Grains – Sandwiches are an easy way to tick this box with a nice multigrain bread. Multigrain crackers are also a great option, try to opt for the lower salt varieties. Muesli bars can also tick this box – opt for ones with minimal added sugar. Pasta is also a great option and travels well in a lunch box
  • Protein – If you’re packing a sandwich you can include some deli meat / tuna / egg which are all a great source of protein.
  • Dairy – yoghurt or cheese are the most obvious choices here - yoghurt pouches are always a quick and handy way to tick this box. Try to opt for low sugar options – Tamar Valley & Chobani are often better choices. When it comes to cheese, a few cubes of block cheddar cheese will work well.

Make sure you invest in a good insulated cooler bag and an ice pack for those warmer days.

It’s best to avoid treats like sugary biscuits, chips, lollies etc as they provide little nutritional value and won’t benefit your child’s cognitive performance at school.

It’s not uncommon for kids to return from school with large amounts of food in their lunchbox – there are many reasons for this but most commonly because kids will opt for play over eating. Leftover lunchbox foods generally make great afternoon snacks – especially the veg! (keeping in mind food safety as not all things will be suitable for consumption if not kept at suitable temperatures e.g. dairy products).

If making lunchboxes is not your thing, LunchEase was designed for you – we're here to help!

Shannon Colebatch

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