How to build a healthy lunch box

With our busy, time-poor lives, it can be a challenge coming up with varied, balanced and quick lunch box ideas for your kids. It’s even harder if you’re trying to feed them a diet free of processed foods, preservatives and chemicals.

The Healthy Kids Association, recommends packing the “Core 4 +1” for a balanced lunch box to ensure your active and growing kids are getting the nutrients they need.

Core 4:

  1. Main Lunch
  2. Core Snack
  3. Piece of fruit
  4. Water

Plus 1:

An extra snack for active kids

This is a good starting point when building a healthy lunch box. Before we get into the foods, however, it’s important to have the right storage container for your kids to bring. Opt for a stainless-steel lunch box or reusable beeswax food wraps in place of plastic food containers and bottles. These are eco-friendly, lightweight and durable and don’t leach chemicals like plastic.

Main Lunch Ideas

The easiest main lunch idea you could pack your kids is leftovers from dinner. Some examples include my salmon burgers or zucchini fritters that are great served with a Greek-style salad. A serve of good quality protein like a home-made hummus or hard boiled organic eggs combined with some cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber and zucchini also makes a great main lunch item. I love to make savoury protein bites made from organic chicken mince and lots of vegetables, they go well with brown rice and leafy greens and a dollop of whole egg mayo.

If your kids love a good sandwich, ensure you choose 100 % wholegrain breads or wraps that are high in fibre and free from anything artificial. The secret to building the perfect sandwich is a delicious spread. I love smashed avocado, hummus or homemade pesto. Add quality protein such as organic roast chicken, tinned tuna or smashed eggs and lots of veggies for extra goodness.

Core Snack Ideas

Snacks should be nutrient-dense to keep your kids energised and satiated. My nut-free Healthy Choc-Chip Cookies are full of fibre-rich oats and cacao, so kids will love them! Other options could be small chia pudding pots using berries and seeds, homemade muesli bars and nut free protein balls.

Fruits 

Keep fruits seasonal and easy to eat. Bananas are my favourite followed by mandarins, pears, berries or grapes which are perfect portable fruits to pack.

Extra Snack Ideas 

You can double the core snack or give your kids a banana to keep them going if they’re still hungry by the afternoon.

Whatever you decide to pack, always make it colourful, real and delicious so your kids always have something exciting to look forward to. Make sure to include an ice-pack in the lunchbox to keep the ingredients fresh and free from deteriorating and spoiling. That way, you’ll be nourishing your kids’ growing bodies and keeping them happy around the clock.

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Zac Zacharia (Managing Director) has been assisting clients to create wealth and secure their futures for over 14 years.

He is also an accomplished presenter and educator

Co-authoring the popular investment book, Property vs Shares.