The NHS recommends that a balanced packed lunch should contain:
These are bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, and others.
These are meat, fish, eggs, beans and others.
A dairy item
This could be cheese or yoghurt.
Veg, Salad or Fruit
Vegetables or salad, and a portion of fruit.
Starchy foods are a good source of energy, and should make up a third of the lunchbox. But don’t let things get boring. Instead of sandwiches give kids bagels, pitta bread, wraps and baguettes. Use brown, wholemeal or seeded bread, not white bread. Children often like food they can eat with their fingers, so chop up raw veggies such as carrots or peppers, and give them houmous or cottage cheese to dip the veggies in. Breadsticks and wholemeal crackers are great finger foods and they can be spread with low-fat soft cheese or eaten with reduced-fat cheddar and pickles. Replace chocolate bars and cakes with fresh fruit, dried fruit or unsalted nuts. Vary the fruit each day and get them to try new things, like kiwi or melon.
So what are the benefits of enjoying a school lunch? All menus are nutritionally balanced and conform to the government’s national nutritional guidelines. Children can sit down together and enjoy their meal, whilst at the same time developing those social skills of eating together that are so important in later life.
A well-fed and happy child is more likely to be receptive to participating in the afternoon’s activities. Someone else preparing and cooking lunch for your child, which saves you worrying about a packed meal every day.