When it comes to making sure your child eats well at school (or keeping an eye on your own diet at work), it can be hard to know what to include day after day in order to keep things fresh, fun and healthy. Here, we look at The British Nutrition Foundation guidance when it comes to choosing things to put in a packed lunch.

Base the lunch around starchy foods

Try rice, pasta, bread, couscous, wraps, pitta breads, potatoes and chappattis

If you can, choose wholegrain varieties of starchy foods such as wholemeal bread, and leave skins on potatoes (mini filled potato skins are a great idea and lots of fun for kids to make the night before too).

Things To Put In A Packed Lunch: Homemade Bread

Get the kids involved by making their own seeded bread for sandwiches - a great way to base their lunch around a starchy food.
Try the recipe here >>

Mix things up

Include beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat, a dairy food and/or a non-dairy source of protein

Vary your lunchboxes through the week with beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other sources of protein as sandwich fillings or in a pasta or rice salad. If you’re not including a dairy food in the main lunch item (e.g. in a salad or sandwich), put a yogurt or some cheese such as a cheddar stick or cheese string in its place. Choose unsweetened milk alternatives if you need to avoid dairy.

Include lots of fruit & veg

1-2 portions is a good benchmark, and things like sliced vegetables in pasta count

It’s easy to get hold of chopped fresh and dried fruits in ‘fun packs’, but you can make your own too. These work as after-school snacks too, or even breakfast on the move if you’re running late but still want to set them up well for the day ahead.

Things To Put In A Packed Lunch
Our Rainbow Wrap recipe is a great way to get veggies into your child - as well as a source of starch in the wrap itself.
Try the recipe here >>

Remember the drink

Send them with a water bottle for the day, and a drink that’s especially for lunchtime

It can be easy to forget to pack a drink, but it’s vital to keep your child’s energy and hydration levels up. Healthy options include water, semi-skimmed or 1% milk. Fruit juices and smoothies work too, but remember that these should be limited to a combined total of 150ml a day.

Smarter Snacks

  • Whole or sliced fruit
  • Vegetable sticks, e.g. celery, carrot, pepper, cucumber - some vegetables are naturally baton shaped which can save you time preparing, for example, sugar snap peas and baby corn.
  • Bag of plain popcorn
  • Bread sticks
  • Unsalted nuts (check your child’s schools policy on nuts first as some schools do not allow nuts to be brought in)
  • Rice or corn cakes

Or as slightly more indulgent treat try:

  • Banana bread
  • Malt loaf
  • Fruit jelly
  • Plain, fruit or cheese and chive scones
  • Rice pudding