Department of Health & Human Services
Premiers Active April

School lunchbox tips for healthy, happy kids

A healthy lunch will give kids of all ages the energy and nutrients they need to develop, learn and have fun. And packing a nutritious school lunch that your child will love doesn’t have to be challenging.

Wholesome Lunch

Typically a school lunchbox will include a main item, a couple of snacks and a drink. The most important thing though is that kids enjoys a variety from all food groups in order to fuel their bodies and get the most out of a busy school day.

Here are our top five tips for packing a winning school lunch box:

1. Include all five food groups

Pack at least one item from each food group:

  • Vegetables and legumes/beans
  • Grains (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
  • Fruit
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and beans/legumes

You can learn more about these groups by downloading the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (PDF, 300KB, 1p).

2. Choose water or reduced fat milk

Avoid sugary drinks like juice boxes, fruit juice or cordial. You might also choose to freeze their drink overnight and put it in the lunchbox to keep food cool.

3. Try DIY

Homemade snacks can be cheaper and more nutritious than packages items, which are often laden with added salt and sugar. Plus you can easily make snacks to suit your child’s tastes.

Quick, easy combos include:

  • nut and popcorn mixes
  • veggie sticks with dip
  • vegetable frittata
  • chopped apple and dates
  • wholemeal, fruit or savoury muffins, or
  • cheese and crackers.

Store your homemade snacks in reusable tubs or bags to save money and reduce waste.

4. Plan ahead

Write a shopping list and buy as much as you can all at once. This takes the hassle out of the morning rush and you’ll also avoid the temptation to pick up less healthy convenience items at the last minute. Packing the majority of the lunchbox the night before is great for busy households and means one less thing to do in the morning.

5. Shop smart

Some packaged snacks are better options than others. Look for items made mostly with whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, dairy and nuts. Aim to buy fruit and vegetables when they’re in season as they tend to be fresher, tastier and cheaper. Keep an eye out for The Health Star Rating when shopping. The more stars, the better the choice.  Be wary of packaged snacks with fats, sugar or salt listed in the first three ingredients.


nutrition-australiaFor more handy healthy eating tips and tasty recipes visit the Nutrition Australia website.


Last updated: November 29, 2016 at: 5:19 pm

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