Packing a healthy lunchbox for your children may seem challenging and time-consuming. However, with a little organisation and forethought, your child can enjoy a school lunchbox full of nutritious foods that will help maintain their energy, keep their blood sugar levels balanced and provide them with the nutrients they need for growth and development.

As a nutritionist and a mum, I believe a healthy lunchbox should focus on a variety of wholefoods and colour. Making school lunchboxes should also be kept simple and take no more than 10 minutes to pack, but be an exciting meal your child looks forward to.

Here are my top tips for preparing a kids lunchbox that encourages healthy eating and meets your child’s nutrient demands.


  1. Incorporate a variety of nutrients 

At the top of the list for healthy lunchbox ideas and tips is to ensure you’re incorporating a variety of nutrients into your child’s school lunch. Aim to include a quality protein source, complex and fibre-rich carbohydrates and healthy fats plus a water bottle to keep them hydrated.

Protein sources: poultry, lean meats, eggs, nuts (if the school isn’t nut-free), seeds, beans and legumes

Fat sources: avocado, salmon, nuts (if the school isn’t nut-free), seeds, coconut products, plain yoghurt

Complex fibre-rich carbohydrates: fruit, vegetables, whole grains, gluten-free grains, beans, legumes, nuts (if the school isn’t nut-free) and seeds.


  1. Make in advance

Minimise the time it takes to make your child’s lunchbox by baking a savoury and sweet recipe on the weekend. If you’re really organised, you can make several items over the school holidays to freeze ready for when it’s time to go back to school. Lunchbox ideas such as savoury muffins, veggie slices, pizza scrollsmuesli bars, biscuits or raw balls can all be frozen ready to grab and go.


  1. Use leftovers

When making healthy food for dinner, double the batch to use in your kid’s lunchbox (or yours) over the next few days. This is a great way to minimise time, save money and ensure they’re ticking off all the food groups. Lean meats can be cut up and put in a pita wrap, cold pasta can be made into a pasta salad or serve leftovers warm in a thermos.


  1. Prepare raw ingredients

Raw veggies and fresh fruit are essential healthy lunchbox additions. If you find yourself short of time in the mornings, preparing raw ingredients a few days in advance is helpful. This could be cutting up carrots, capsicum or celery sticks ready to serve with beetroot hummus. Washing and portioning out strawberries and blueberries, cherry tomatoes or slicing apples also saves time. Store them in the fridge ready to be added into the lunchbox and whatever isn’t used could be thrown into a smoothie or made into something else like veggie sushi rolls.


  1. Get your kids involved 

Finally, get your kids involved in what goes into their school lunchbox. They are more likely to eat healthy food if they’ve helped plan, prepare or make it. This could be simply choosing healthy snacks from a list or helping to pack their own lunch from a selection of healthy food laid out on the bench. For older kids, you could encourage them to make one or two items that could be used the next day or throughout the week.


Bonus tip! 

If your child is a fussy eater or your struggling to convert them from eating a highly processed lunch to healthy food, get them more engaged by choosing a special age-appropriate lunchbox with them. Personally, I’m a fan of bento boxes because they help make food visually appealing to kids and allow the individual ingredients to be sectioned off (great for those with sensory issues).


Sarah Appleford is a bachelor-qualified nutritionist, mother, passionate foodie and founder of Nutrition For Kids. Through 1:1 consultations and workshops, Sarah’s mission is to inspire children to lead healthy, happy lives. She wants to help remove the confusion and equip parents with the tools and knowledge they need to nourish their kids with a whole food diet.

Find inspiration on the Nutrition For Kids’ website and follow on Sarah on Instagram or Facebook