Healthy lunchboxes

Children eating melons

Just one per cent of primary schoolchildren's packed lunches meet the nutritional standards set for school meals in England, studies have suggested.

Making an interesting and nutritious packed lunch every day for your child can be a difficult task.

But don’t resort to pre-prepared lunchbox foods, sweets and crisps!

Packing a healthy lunch for your child is vital to make sure they get the right energy and nutrients they need for lunchtime play and afternoon lessons.

A week of healthy lunch ideas

It can be difficult to find inspiration about how to offer variety whilst still keeping lunchboxes healthy.

To give you a hand we’ve developed a week of lunchbox ideas using tried and tested favourites that children will love.

We’ve also compared them to the School Food Trust’s nutritional standards for lunch, so you can be sure your children are getting all the nutrients they need to keep them going.

Monday: 500 calories

  • egg and cress sandwich on wholemeal bread
  • chopped tomato & cucumber
  • reduced fat formage frais
  • plain popcorn
  • orange juice.

Tuesday: 527 calories

  • pitta bread stuffed with chicken and tomato slices.
  • tinned peaches in juice with low fat custard.
  • small handful of peanuts
  • water.

Wednesday: 536 calories

  • granary roll with hummus, lettuce, tomato and cucumber
  • pear
  • low fat yoghurt
  • currant bun
  • water.

Thursday: 573 calories

  • tuna and sweetcorn pasta salad with red peppers
  • 2 satsumas
  • low fat fruit yoghurt
  • pineapple juice.

Friday: 425 calories

  • home-made mini pizza rounds
  • small handful of dried apricots
  • tzatziki with sticks of red pepper
  • apple juice.

Get the balance right

  • Include a good helping of fruit and vegetables – aim for a portion of each.
  • Have some starchy food – like bread, rice or pasta.
  • Choose some lean protein – tuna or salmon, boiled eggs, beans, chicken or turkey.
  • Go for some low fat dairy food – like low fat yoghurt, fromage frais or reduced fat cheese.
  • Add in a drink – water, pure unsweetened fruit juice or low fat milk.
  • Use front of pack labelling to make healthy choices about saturated fat, total fat, salt and sugar.

Make sure it comes back eaten

No matter how nutritionally balanced your lunch box is there will be no nutritional value to it if it remains uneaten!

  • Keep it cool – few schools have refrigerated areas for lunchboxes so use mini lunchbox coolers or freeze cartons of juice or bottles of still water to put in the lunchbox and keep it cool.
  • Avoid soggy sandwiches – put wet vegetables like tomato slices between your main filling and some lettuce to protect the bread.
  • Make fruit and vegetables easy to eat – cut them into chunks, sticks or shapes rather than leaving them whole.
  • Make it fun – decorate sandwich bags or yoghurt pots with stickers or draw funny faces on fruits like bananas, oranges and satsumas that have peel that you remove before eating.
  • Let your child choose their lunchbox and add bright coloured napkins and plastic cutlery.
  • Involve your children in deciding what goes into their lunchbox.

*Schools may have a policy on nuts which may mean these are not allowed. Check with your child’s teacher before putting nuts in lunchboxes.

Here's one of Artie Beat Cartoon series - if you like it there are nine others to watch.