Department of Health & Human Services
Premiers Active April

How to take the hassle out of healthy lunchboxes!

A healthy lunchbox can give kids of all ages the energy and nutrients they need to develop, learn and have fun.

WActive April eNews Healthy Lunchboxes Applehether your little ones are starting school or it’s a well-rehearsed routine in your household, packing a nutritious school lunch that kids will love doesn’t have to be challenging.

Here’s our top tips for taking the hassle out of packing a healthy lunchbox.

Pick and Mix 1–6

The key to a nutritious and filling lunchbox is to pack something from each of the five core food groups, plus water:

  1. Fruit: Such as fresh fruit, or tinned fruit/snack packs in natural juice.
  2. Vegetables/legumes: such as veggie sticks, in a salad or sandwich, or baked into a savoury muffin.
  3. Grain foods: Such as wholegrain or wholemeal bread and wraps, plus grainy crackers, wholemeal pasta, brown rice or quinoa.
  4. Lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes (AKA, protein foods): such as lean chicken, ham, beef in a sandwich, a small tin of baked beans, boiled eggs, hummus (chickpea) dip, dried fava beans or tinned fish in springwater.
  5. Milk, yoghurt, cheese (and alternatives): such as cheese cubes or slices, ricotta, bocconcini, or tzatziki (cucumber and yogurt) dip, UHT milk, or yoghurt.
  6. Water in a refillable bottle. You can also freeze it overnight to keep food cool. Avoid sugary drinks like juice boxes, fruit juice or cordials.

Put the Pick and Mix 1–6 poster on your fridge for a delicious ‘at-a-glance’ guide to healthy lunch ideas.


Homemade meals and snacks can be cheaper and more nutritious than packaged items, which can be high in salt and added sugar. Plus, you can make them to suit your child’s tastes. Cook in bulk, then freeze or store individual portions for your own ready to go snack foods, such as savoury muffins, egg slice, rice salad or pasta dishes.

Not all meals and snacks require preparation. Check out the Pick and Mix poster for a bunch of easy and heathy lunchbox ideas that you can assemble in a flash!

Active April eNews Healthy LunchboxesPlan Ahead

Take the stress out of the early morning rush with some clever planning:

  • Plan the lunchboxes for the week ahead and get the kids involved in choosing some of the options. They’re more likely to eat food they’ve had a say in choosing. It’s also a great way for them to learn about making responsible choices.
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it. You’ll save time by having everything you need, when you need it, and you’ll avoid the temptation to pick up less healthy convenient items at the last minute.
  • And pack some of the lunchboxes the night before, so there’s one less thing to do in the morning.

Shop Smart

Some packaged snacks are better than others. To choose nutritious items, look for products made with mostly whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, dairy and nuts. And watch out for added fats, sugar or salt in the first three ingredients.

  • Don’t be fooled by fake endorsements or logos that can make some unhealthy foods look like everyday items. This can include claims such as ‘lunchbox friendly’, or ‘canteen approved’. Make up your own mind.
  • Buy fruit and vegetables when they’re in season as they’re usually fresher, tastier and cheaper.
  • And save money by buying some non-perishable items in bulk, such as crackers, UHT milk, canned products (fish, fruit, etc), grains and rice.

For more healthy eating tips and delicious recipes visit the Nutrition Australia website.

Last updated: March 31, 2017 at: 4:54 pm

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