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Ideal school lunches for every age

Kids of different ages have differing nutritional needs. Here are some healthy lunch ideas for every age group.

Preschool kids need veges for growing

Many kids don’t meet the recommended daily intake of vegetables and fruit, so it’s time for a little health by stealth! Cut fresh fruit, veges, and even sandwiches in bite-sized shapes to pique their interest.

  • Use a cookie cutter to cut sandwiches into fun shapes
  • Chop up colourful veges for little hands

Three tasty snacks to boost fruit and veg intake:

  1. Frozen pineapple rings
  2. Homemade vegetable frittatas
  3. Rainbow vege skewers

Primary school kids need carbs for energy

Carbs are vital for energy to play, but biscuits, cakes and lollies don’t give kids the all-day sustenance they need. Aim for a mix of vege-based, savoury snacks, as well as sweet ones such as fruit and high-fibre bars.

  • Slice fruit into small pieces for wobbly teeth
  • Pop in a muesli bar full of high-fibre oats and nuts or fruit

Three quick snacks for on-the-go kids:

  1. Orange quarters
  2. Plain popcorn
  3. Celery sticks with reduced-fat cream cheese

High-school kids need calcium for strong bones

Teenage years are critical for building bone mass, but most teens do not get enough dairy. Snacks are a great way to pack extra nutrition into your teen’s diet and most kids will happily have milk, yoghurt and cheese.

  • Pair sliced cheese with veg and grainy crackers
  • Freeze a tub of yoghurt the night before so it stays cool

Three high-calcium snacks for busy teens:

  1. Yoghurt-based dip with crudités
  2. Ricotta and banana on toast
  3. Smoothie made with cow’s milk or calcium-fortified soy milk

How to build a balanced lunchbox

Grains x 2 serves Wholegrain or high fibre 1 serve = 1 slice wholegrain bread or 1/2 cup cooked pasta or rice
Fruit x 1 serve Washed and chopped 1 serve = 1 cup fruit salad or 1 medium piece fruit or 2 small pieces
Veges x 2 serves A colourful selection 1 serve = 1 cup salad or 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
Protein x 1 serve Keep cool for safety 1 serve = 50g lean chicken or 3/4 cup baked beans or 1-2 hard-boiled eggs
Dairy x 1 serve Lower fat varieties 1 serve = 150g tub yoghurt or 2 slices cheese
Snack x 1 extra For more active kids 1 serve = 1 medium banana or 1 wholegrain muesli bar
Water bottle To keep kids hydrated Explain to them the importance of drinking by themselves, even before being thirsty