While cooked school meals are getting healthier, and have to conform to government guidelines, children taking packed lunch to school may not be getting the same nutritional benefits.

Simply pick one item from each of the  categories below to make up a well balanced packed lunch -.

You can vary the portion sizes depending on the age and appetite of your child.  Take a read through our top tips for lunchboxes for some more ideas.  

1. Tummy fillers 

Growing kids need plenty of starchy foods to fill them up and give them energy. Nutritious meals packed with fibre, protein, carbohydrate and vitamins will also help your child’s growing bones and give them a healthy dose of brain power for the afternoon ahead.

These along with fruit and/or vegetables should form the main part of your child’s lunch.

Try some of these ideas:

Sandwiches and wraps

  • Bread – vary between wholemeal, granary, multi-grain and white.

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  • Meat – wafer thin cooked meats, cubed chicken/turkey breast with tomato and lettuce, ham and cheese, leftover cold meats (chicken, turkey, meatloaf, sausages etc) with salad.
  • Fish – tuna mayo & sweetcorn, tuna salad, fish paste and cucumber.
  • Veggie – grated cheese, cheese spread, cream cheese, cheese and grated carrot with a little mayo, cheese and coleslaw, egg salad/egg mayo, cheese and pickle, Marmite.
  • Sweet  –  High-fruit jam/fruit spread, nut-free chocolate spread*, honey, treacle, lemon curd.

2. Five-a-day options

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  • Any combination of the following, in a small pot or bag: raisins, sultanas, pumpkin/sunflower seeds, ready to eat dried apricots, dates or prunes.
  • Whole fruits – satsuma, apple, banana, pear, peach, plum, grapes, strawberries (whatever is in season) 
  • Fruit jelly made with fruit pieces and pure fruit juice.
  • Tinned fruit pot (useful in the winter if you can’t find ripe fresh fruit) – mandarins, pineapple, peaches, fruit salad, pears.
  • Salad pot – any combination of prepared raw vegetables: cucumber, lettuce, pepper, celery, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks. 

 3. Good for growing bones

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  • Fruit yogurt, fromage frais or dairy-free alternative.
  • Cubes of cheese or pre-packed lunchbox sized cheese portion, cottage cheese with pineapple.

4. Snack

If you have energetic kids, you may like to add a snack to their lunchboxes to re-fuel their energy levels!
Here are some of our favourites: 

  • Small bag of lower salt (preferably baked or reduced fat) crisps, or a handful of crisps in a pot. Crackers, crisp bread, rice cakes, cheesy biscuits, savoury flapjack, savoury scone, bread sticks, unsalted popcorn. 
  • Sweet options – Muffin, cup cake, small piece of cake, biscuit or cookieflapjack, shortbread, jam tart, cereal bar*
    * Check cereal/flapjack bars for sugar content , as some can contain as much sugar as a bar of chocolate!