Lunchboxes mean many things to many people. In the 21st century many foods are competing for a place in our lunchboxes.
Healthy lunchboxes play a role in developing lifelong healthy eating habits. Packing healthy lunchboxes with your child can help develop an understanding of:
- The importance of eating a variety of whole foods
- The relationship between food, growth and development
- The value of food and taking time to prepare and enjoy healthy food with others
- That discretionary foods (foods high in saturated fat, added sugar and/or salt) are not good choices for everyday
Lunchboxes containing healthy, whole foods consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines and Australian Guide to Healthy Eating will contribute to healthy growth and development; optimise ability to learn; and teach life long healthy eating patterns.
The five food groups are:
- Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/ beans
- Vegetables and legumes/beans
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/ or alternatives
For children, lunchboxes have many different and important roles.
- Healthy lunchboxes can provide children with skills and knowledge on how to prepare and select an appropriate amount of food
- Encouraging children to sit, relax and take time to eat lunchbox foods demonstrates the important role food has in socialising with others.
- In avoiding discretionary foods in lunchboxes we are showing children the foods that need to be limited or reserved only for special occasions, and that limiting packaged food has an important role for protecting the environment. Examples of what is considered a discretionary food are outlined on the Eat for Health website.
Great healthy meal ideas for lunchboxes include:
- Sandwich, wrap or roll including plenty of salad
- Rice and vegetable salad
- Egg and vegetable frittata
- Skinless chicken drumstick with corn and bean salad
- Homemade English Muffin Pizza
- Pasta and vegetables