FAQs: Healthy school lunches for kids

Packing a healthy school lunch for your children is of paramount importance. Not only does a nutritious meal help fuel their bodies and brains throughout the school day, it also sets a precedent for leading a healthy lifestyle. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 25 per cent of Aussie kids are currently overweight or obese, a problem that can set them up for a lifetime of health-related complications. Help teach your children to eat well by packing them a healthy, sustainable school lunch that will nourish their bodies and taste great to boot.

What should I include in a school lunch?

The Victorian government's Better Health Channel lists some guidelines for what you should put in your child's lunch box. There are six key components you'll want to include: a piece of fresh fruit; yoghurt, milk or cheese (for calcium benefits); a handful of crunchy veggies; a source of protein; a whole grain; and tap water.

By including all of these food items, you'll be giving your child a nutritious, high-protein meal, loaded with vitamins and minerals. By including water, you'll also help keep him or her hydrated throughout the school day.

What are some kid-friendly ways to fill these requirements?

There are many creative ideas you can employ for meeting your child's nutritional needs in a way he or she will appreciate. Fill your son or daughter's protein needs with homemade chicken strips. Rather than purchasing frozen items, make your own healthy dish by coating strips of chicken breast in whole grain flour, then sauteing on the stove.

When it comes to veggies, consider kid-friendly presentations such as ants on a log – the characteristic dish of celery topped with peanut butter and raisins.

Whole grain sides can also be infused with grains, fruits and vegetables. Try cooked brown rice mixed with steamed broccoli, wheat bread smeared with avocado and topped with spinach and tomato or a sandwich made with lean turkey, lettuce and mustard. Cut sandwiches into kid-friendly shapes to make them cute and appetising

How should I pack the meal?

There are many creative ways to pack school lunches for kids. You could try using a bento box, a reusable creation that has different portion-sized compartments to hold each item on your child's menu. Sandwiches can be stored in reusable sandwich wraps.

To keep your lunch packing earth-friendly, buy your child a lunch box he or she can use again and again.