Lunch Box Tips

Guest Post by Kate Di Prima

As a dietitian and a mum, Kate is well aware of the lunch box hurdles parents face every day.  With a bit of forward planning and a few tricks and tips, you can pack nutritious lunch boxes that will get eaten.

lunch box tips

Pack Protein

  • Pack a protein rich sandwich whenever possible – red meat (beef and lamb), fish, egg or legumes (like baked beans) all make great fillings – to deliver a boost of essential nutrients – particularly iron – needed for concentration and being active.  Plus protein power will help keep children satisfied for longer
  • If your child has recess late, swap lunch foods with recess foods. By 11.30am most children will be starving and a protein rich sandwich will help sustain them for the rest of the day
  • Use your child’s favourite dinner for lunch – use bolognaise in wraps spread with light cream cheese or spread of choice to make yummy roll ups.  Great for left-over taco mince making mini burritos.
  • Blend leftover vegetables and meats with stick blender, add a little ricotta or creamed cottage cheese to make delicious and nutritious dips to be eaten with vegetable sticks or crackers.  Using left-overs saves time, money and ensure an iron and nutrient-rich meal to help boost concentration and avoid the afternoon energy slump.

Always pack Fruit

  • Fruits need to be small or chopped to appropriate size
  • Freeze chunks of fruit to make a refreshing frozen treat at recess – and to help keep lunchbox items chilled

Encourage them to go for the good stuff first

  • Don’t ask your children to be mini-nutritionists.
  • Especially for smaller children and those starting school:
  • Use coloured dots to help identify recess and lunch
  • Use gold and silver stars to identify which foods to eat first

Portion Control

  • Kids like kid sized portions that fit easily into small hands
  • Mini bake at home rolls are prefect for pint-sized sambos
  • Don’t overfill sandwiches.  A perfect student lunch might be a small roll spread with hummus and filled with finely sliced left-over meat from last night’s dinner

Sliced cold roast or corned beef or left over lamb chops deliver a nutritional boost of iron to aid afternoon concentration

Lunch Boxes

  • Chose an appropriately sized insulated lunch box – ideally with a zip for little hands to open easily
  • Avoid ‘tackle box’ style lunch boxes – which encourage kids to over-eat and can make choosing the best foods for them a challenge.  Kids will always go for the quick to eat salty and sweet snacks over the carefully created sandwich.

Summer safety

As weather warms up parents fret about keeping lunch boxes cool

  • Freeze a low fat milk drink, low fat yoghurt tub or freeze fruit cubes – along with an ice brick – this will keep contents chilled
  • Make sandwiches, muffins, scrolls etc a week ahead and freeze.  They will be deliciously fresh at lunchtime and will help keep contents cold
  • Invest in an insulated lunch boxes – with zip
  • keep food fresh and protected in reusable plastic containers

About Kate

Kate is an accredited practicing dietitian in Queensland with 20 years experience. She runs 2 private practice clinics and provides corporate consulting services to many companies. The author of 2 cookbooks, lunchbox cards and co author of 2 self help books, she is passionate about the health and nutrition of families. Kate has two children: Jack aged 10 and Rosie aged 7.


More some of the lunch box recipes from Kate, click here: Family Dinner and Lunch Box Ideas.

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