Delicious Ideas To Inspire And Nourish Your Kids This Term
Send Them Back With A Hearty Lunchbox

Delicious Ideas To Inspire And Nourish Your Kids This Term

Send Them Back With A Hearty Lunchbox

Delicious Ideas To Inspire And Nourish Your Kids This Term



It might still be Summertime fun for parents and children but it always helps to plan well ahead of the new term starting. Healthy and nutritious food is so important to fuel your kids through the school day, we have worked with our nutritionists to give you some helpful advice and tips.


Dr Marianne Walsh, Senior Nutritionist at the National Dairy Council says “There’s a lot of things to get used to at the start of the term, ranging from new books to possibly a new teacher, new classroom or new friends,” says Dr. Walsh. “It’s ideal if you can experiment at home with lunch ideas and to introduce some new flavours and new food textures during August, before school starts - or at home during the weekends.  This means children are not coping with new foods on top of everything else at the start of the term in the classroom, but it also means they can take part in the planning and preparation.”




Children may want the cakes, biscuits and crisps in their lunchbox but it’s really important to start them on a journey of healthy eating early. Weight is still an issue for Irish children, research from the Department of Health (September 2016) shows that that one in four children is either overweight or obese and that the European Congress on Obesity (2015) notes that 27.5% of children in Ireland under the age of five are overweight or obese, making children in Ireland the heaviest in Europe. The best way to manage this is to watch portion sizes, and ensure a good balance of varied foods in the diet.


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, some guidelines below:

  1. 1 portion of starchy carbohydrate (e.g. wholegrain breads, pittas and wraps, brown rice/pasta)
  2. 1 portion of meat or meat alternative (e.g. chicken, fish, egg, pulses)
  3. 1 portion of dairy (e.g. yogurt, cheese)
  4. 1(+) portion of vegetable (e.g. carrot sticks, peppers, sweetcorn, lettuce, onion)
  5. 1(+) portion of fruit (e.g. apple, orange, banana, pear, kiwi)
  6. A drink of water and/or milk



If a child favours a particular type of food or sandwich it is easy to fall into a routine of providing that for school lunch as a ‘dependable reliable’ all of the time. They may become bored with that food and can even grow to dislike it because they have it so often.  


Including variety in sandwiches can often be quite difficult especially five days a week. Using different types of bread can help to prevent boredom - such as bagels, pitta bread, wholemeal wraps and bread rolls. Try to opt for wholegrain varieties where possible and vary sandwich fillings from day to day.


Preparing lunches in interesting shapes and colourful lunchboxes can make lunchtime more appealing.   It’s great to encourage children to try new flavours and textures so that they’re not stuck with the same foods all of the time – but by giving them time to gradually get used to them and expand their tastes.




“Unfortunately, national surveys have shown us that 37% of Irish girls and 28% of Irish boys aged from 5 –12 years of age don’t get enough calcium in their diet; and 42% of teenage girls, 23% of teenage boys have insufficient calcium intakes,” says Dr. Walsh. “This is worrying because children and young adolescents are going through really important phases of growth and development,” says Dr. Walsh.


The would advise families to follow the Department of Health’s recommendations of 3 servings from the “milk, yogurt and cheese” food group for those aged 5 years and up; with 5 servings recommended for 9-18-year olds due to the importance of calcium during this life stage. Calcium is extremely important for the growth and development of normal bones in children. 

Make sure your child is getting enough calcium by putting one of these in their lunchbox:

  • a container/mini-carton of milk (200ml)
  • a pot of yogurt, custard or rice pudding
  • a matchbox-sized piece of cheese such as cheddar, edam or gouda varieties
  • 2 triangles of spreadable cheese


You may like to check if your child’s school is registered with the School Milk Scheme, which is a convenient and affordable way to help your child meet the recommended intake from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group.


The National Dairy Council has produced ‘Nutrition & You’ booklets for Children and Teenagers, which are endorsed by the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI). These booklets provide tailored information across a variety of topics such as: healthy eating; keeping active; body weight; lunchbox tips; bone and dental health. These are available download for free at – enquiries to  


The NDC has also developed educational initiatives to help primary school children and teenagers learn about healthy eating, keeping active and the nutritional importance of dairy foods – ask about the Moo Crew for primary schools (; and the HealthFest event for secondary schools (


For further information please contact Cathy Curran, Communications Manager, National Dairy Council,  Tel: 01 290 2518 or 086 8777 664.

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