Make the back to school grind a little easier with healthy lunchbox advice, tips and ideas from Caroline O’Donovan, Nutritionist with the National Dairy Council.
Good nutrition is not only essential for your child’s growth and development but is also important in keeping them adequately fuelled for the long school day. Whether starting school for the first time, progressing from primary to secondary school or returning to a familiar routine; this transition is a busy time of year for kids, teens and parents alike. Back to school marks a fresh beginning and structure for the next 9 or 10 months of your family’s year, so take this time as an opportunity to encourage healthy lifestyle routines and habits from the get-go.
Don’t forget that a school lunch is one of your child’s three meals a day, so it’s important to ensure they are getting nutritionally balanced lunches and snacks. Typically, a packed school lunch should contain all of the major food groups; consider:
The Do’s and Don’ts
Did you know?
The Department of Health’s Healthy Eating Guidelines recommend 3 servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group each day as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Between the ages of 9-18 years, 5 servings per day are recommended due to the increased calcium requirements at this life stage. Examples of one serving include a 200ml glass of milk, 125ml yogurt and 25g (matchbox size piece) cheddar cheese.
Calcium is recognised for its important role in normal bone growth and development; with childhood and the adolescent years particularly important for forming healthy bones. However, you may not realise that there is more to milk and dairy than calcium, with one glass of milk also providing us with protein, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, vitamin B2 and vitamin B12 - each playing a variety of important roles for our health.
Why not check if your child’s school is registered with the School Milk Scheme? This is a convenient and affordable way to help your child meet their recommended intake from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group.
- Avocado, crunchy peppers and cheddar
- Tuna and sweetcorn, spinach leaves and mayonnaise
- Chicken, mixed salad and tomato relish
- Turkey, grated cheddar and tomato
- Pesto pasta salad with chicken and peppers
- Mild spiced couscous with roasted veg and chickpeas
- Brown rice salad with sliced hardboiled egg, avocado and spring onion
- Homemade soup and brown bread
- Carrot and red pepper sticks with hummus
- Cubed cheddar cheese with grapes
- Fruit salad with yogurt and seeds
- Fresh fruit smoothie made with milk or yogurt
Alternative Sweet Treats:
- Homemade flapjacks
- Homemade banana bread
- Mixed unsalted nuts
- Mini box of raisins
- 2-3 dried apricots