The holidays are over and school has started back. We are now faced with the task of what to pack in our children’s lunchboxes.  And it can get a little daunting trying to decipher what is healthy and what isn’t and what will get eaten and what won’t.

Supermarket shelves are filled with lots of little packets of easy lunch box treats, masquerading as healthy food.  The problem is, most are loaded with sugar, salt and fat and often offer little nutritional value.

The best option is always going to be homemade. So, if you can allocate a bake day once a month to make and freeze some healthy lunch box treats, your children will reap the rewards and so will your budget.

Think savoury slices, such as my Ham and Corn Slice or Frittatas. Then for something sweet, make fruit muffins, pikelets or low sugar biscuits with high fibre ingredients to fill them up.

Not all parents have the time to bake, so here are some tips for healthy children’s lunches:

  • For something savoury, try dip or hommus with rice crackers or carrot and celery sticks. Kid-sized wraps and sushi are also healthy options, or pack a salad into a cooler bag. Be sure to include protein such as lean meat or cheese.
  • For a sweet option, cut fresh fruit into bite sized pieces to be dipped into yoghurt. Dried fruit is always nice for a change.
  • Make sure you pack a water bottle. Avoid sugary drinks as when the sugar rush wears off they will find it hard to concentrate in class.
  • When buying packaged foods, take the time to read labels –low salt, low sugar snacks are the healthier option and aim for the snack to have at least 3g of fibre per serve.

When your hungry horde arrive home in the afternoon, check lunch boxes and make any leftover fruit into a smoothie.  Crackers with tomato and cheese will help to tie them over until dinner or, if the cupboards are bare, a bowl of high-fibre cereal will do the trick.

If your child is carrying excess weight, then get them active. Turn off the television and computer and get them outside. Involve them in some type of sport or go for a walk with them and you will find that with a healthy diet and exercise their weight will naturally balance out.

Eating habits are set in the first few years of life. So, if you encourage good healthy food, hopefully your children will take these habits into their adult life.


Annette’s cookbooks SYMPLY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE 1-7 and Cooking for 1 or 2 People are sold in all good bookstores. Go to for more information and recipes.