Healthy School Lunches for Children


Making school lunches can seem like a relentless, overwhelming and often, thankless task at times. Honestly I know how you feel.

On top of trying to put a lunch box together, there is the need to try and make it healthy and full of nourishment so it provides the best fuel your kids need for the day, keeps them full and help their brains work at their best.

Well, don’t worry, time to dispatch the overwhelming feeling,  help is here….

What is a healthy lunch for children?

A balanced lunch ideally includes:

  • Healthy carbohydrate rich foods to give your kids the energy they need to get through the day. Whole meal or wholegrain bread/wraps/pita bread are ideal. You can also try cooked pasta, rice or roasted starchy veggies like potato and kumara either as cubes to pick on or as part of a frittata or salad.
  • Protein to help them to feel full and keep their muscles strong. Meat, chicken, eggs, canned fish, cheese and beans are all great to include!
  • Veggies – a must in the lunch box for a vitamin and mineral boost – try including raw veggies cut up, lettuce, grated carrot or cucumber in a sandwich/wrap/pita or veggies included as part of a pasta salad or frittata.
  • Dairy – a pottle of yoghurt or a slice of cheese is a great thing to add to the lunch box for a boost of calcium for healthy bones.
  • Fruit – the sweet treat for your kids to enjoy.
  • An extra nutritious snack if needed – see the ideas below
  • Water – keeps your kids hydrated.
  • A chilly block – keeps the lunch cool and the food safe.

So how do you put a healthy lunch like this together?

Include one of these lunch box staples as they have the carbohydrate, protein and veggies your kids need, then add some fruit and dairy and finally, an extra snack if needed. These are just a few ideas. There are MANY more combos you can make too.

Lunch box staples:

  • Sandwiches made with wholegrain bread or whole meal wraps filled with shredded chicken/tuna and avocado or mashed egg with lettuce or veggies on the side
  • Wholemeal pita with hummus and/or shredded chicken and grated carrot
  • Individual veggie frittata – see recipe here
  • Veggie meat loaf – see recipe here
  • Pasta/rice/quinoa salad  – See a recipe idea here which you can adapt 
  • Pick and mix lunch: Roasted veggie wedges (e.g. potato/kumara/carrot/parsnip) with cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices or carrot sticks and a hard boiled egg
  • Falafel patties and veggie sticks with hummus to dip them in

Dairy and fruit

  • Cubes of cheese with a handful of grapes
  • Unsweetened yoghurt with added handful of frozen berries or a chopped banana
  • Pottle of yoghurt and wedges or orange or kiwifruit
  • Fresh fruit chopped into bite sides chunks/wedges or mini pots of fruit packed in juice and a slice of cheese

Super snacks:

  • Muesli ball bites (for those ok to take nuts to school, you can replace the nut butter for tahini if needed to make nut free) See recipe here
  • Wholegrain crackers sandwiched with cheese
  • Plain popcorn
  • Healthy homemade baking

Note: Remember, it is super important to keep things cool in the lunchbox so remember to pack a chilly block or frozen bottle of water