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Back To School Lunch Boxes

Mums and dads Australia-wide will be rejoicing – school holidays are coming to an end!

Here are some ideas to get back into the swing of preparing lunch boxes:

  •  If mornings are busy, try making lunches the night before. Avoid the last minute dash when you may be tempted to throw in processed treats for convenience.
  • If your kids are hungrier at morning recess, encourage them to eat their sandwich then instead of holding on til lunch time.
  • Older kids can prepare their own lunches but it helps to have on the kitchen bench 1-2 choices of fillings and snacks to choose from. Also, get the kids involved at a younger age; they can help to stuff their own Kangaroo Pouches pita bread pockets to take to school.


 Sandwich ideas

  • A sandwich doesn’t have to have two slices of the same bread. If you’re trying to get kids to eat more wholegrain, use one slice of white and one of wholemeal or wholegrain until they will accept two wholegrain ones.
  • Keep it interesting with different breads e.g. raisin bread, wholegrain wraps, tortillas, burritos, flat pita pockets, English muffins and bread rolls.
  • Spreads could include peanut butter, avocado, hummus, tahini, cream cheese, cottage cheese or mayonnaise instead of margarine all the time.
  • Include protein fillings to help control appetite such as egg, lean ham, breast chicken, roast meat slices, tuna or salmon. Avoid processed meats such as devon, salami and processed hams and chicken.
  • Try embellishing sandwich fillings with sultanas, crushed nuts, apple or cranberry sauce or a shake of herbs.
  • To reduce boredom, mix up sandwiches in the box: include half of one type and half of another.
  • Vegetable frittatas – cold and sliced can make a good vegetarian alternative.  Check out this Salmon, Avocado and Sweet Potato Frittata Muffin recipe on the Australian Avocados website.



  • Can’t get kids to eat veggies? Cut up finger-sized pieces of carrot, celery, zucchini and capsicum plus cherry tomatoes with a small container of mashed avocado, hummus, dip or salsa. A squeeze of lemon juice on top will stop the avocado from turning brown when exposed to air.
  • Nuts only if your child’s class has no nut allergic students otherwise roasted chickpea snacks.
  • Homemade pita bread chips instead of processed crackers. Make them the night before when you are making dinner by cutting up and popping on a tray in the oven.
  • Yoghurts – avoid the kids’ yoghurts and dairy desserts which can often contain more sugar. Instead provide a small container of regular fruit or natural yoghurts. Kids over 6 years can use low fat varieties.
  • Fruit – provide a variety of fruit each day. At least one serve of fruit in a lunch box with another serve for afternoon tea. This means 14 pieces/ serves of fruit per child. Choose smaller apples, oranges, mandarins and bananas. Or provide a small bunch of grapes, a small kiwi fruit or fresh apricots. If berries are a favourite, try mixing up a combination of strawberry, cherry and blueberries.
  • Dried fruit – a small box of sultanas, or no more than 4 dried apricot halves (which would equal 2 fresh apricots).
  • Canned fruit – a small tub of canned fruit in natural juice is also an option.
  • Treats – think of all the treats (e.g. lollies) your child likes and add them to a mental bucket list. Something from the bucket can be taken once or twice a week to be included either in lunch boxes or afternoon tea snacks.




  • Water is the best choice so provide a bottle of water each day.
  • Flavoured milk from the canteen is also acceptable but watch the bottle size – a small carton is better than a large 600ml bottle unless it is shared.
  • Freeze juice poppas or include a frozen cooler brick to keep the lunch box cold til lunch time.

What lunch box ideas work well for you?  Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!


Author: Lisa Yates, Consultant Dietitian Adv APD

Lisa Yates is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with 16 years experience in nutrition, communications, clinical practice, as well as strategy development and implementation.

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