THE ABCD of packing healthy lunchboxes
Choosing items from each of the five food groups will give children all the nutrition they need to play and to learn for the whole school day. Download the ABCD flyer (A4) or ABCD poster (A3) to help make this task a little easier.
The ABCD flyer has recently been translated for those families where English as an additional language or dialect (EALD/D), see a full list below.
- Simplified Chinese
For additional resources for EALD/D families see the Department of Education’s EALD/D page .
Menu planning for lunchboxes – yes really!
Try to gain input from children as they are more likely to eat the items they have chosen.
You can make the job easier by planning ahead. Use the menu planner for ideas and to help with the planning. Planning will help you to:
- save time by shopping once at the beginning of the week rather than shopping each day
- save time each morning as you will already have an idea of what you need to prepare
- save money as you won’t impulse buy and you will use the goods you have purchased. You will also reduce wastage as you will have planned to use the foods you have purchased.
When planning, it is important to select a food item from each of the core food groups, that way you are guaranteed to provide a healthy balanced lunchbox. The five food groups from the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating are:
- Breads and cereals
- Meat or meat alternatives
- All lunchboxes should contain at least one serve of fruit and one serve of vegetables
- Try to include a portion of reduced fat dairy such as cheese or yoghurt
- Breads and cereals should be wholegrain where possible as they contain more fibre than white varieties
- If you do buy pre-packaged foods, try to limit these items to once a week
- Choose those that do not contain any form of chocolate, yoghurt or confectionary
- Choose wholegrain varieties and bars containing dried fruit
- Choose fruit straps with no added sugar. Check the ingredients list as the fruit content should be at least 99%
Muffins and cakes
- Many store brought cakes and muffins contain large amounts of added sugar and fat. You can avoid this by making your own at home
- Always add some fruit to your basic muffin mix
- Use half wholemeal and half white flour for added fibre
- If a recipe states it makes 12 muffins use smaller patty cases and make 18, you then have extra to freeze for other days
- Using polyunsaturated oil or margarine in muffins is a healthier option than butter.
For more ideas about lunchbox items and recipes as well as ways to keep the lunchbox cool and safe in summer Live Lighter have a great resource called ‘Packed with goodness’.
Lunchbox rewards and treats
The Department of Education’s Healthy Food and Drink Policy encompasses areas that are under direct responsibility of the Principal. This means that teachers are not permitted to use unhealthy (red) food based rewards in the classroom for good behaviour. Suitable alternatives include items such as pens, pencils, stickers or free time as an incentive.
This is a concept that parents can also support. Rewarding good behaviour with lollies or chocolates sends the wrong message to children who form an association with unhealthy food items and good behaviour. Next time you believe your child needs a reward or an incentive rather than reaching for the mini chocolate bar or lollypop, try one of the following:
- stickers, special notes from family members or drawings
- stamps, a flower or an inexpensive novelty toy
- pictures of child’s favourite animal/story character
- crayon or pencil
- a written joke
- favourite toy.
Treats don’t always have to be something tangible. Try planning a special after school excursions like a visit to the park, special play activity at home or simply words of encouragement. You can also print out our sheet of notes and jokes to use in your child’s lunchbox.
LiveLighter for families
Small changes can help get the whole family eating healthy and moving more whilst saving time and money!
Use LiveLighter for Families to develop healthy habits to help your family reach Australian standard guidelines for physical activity and nutrition and save you money and time in the process.
Discover delicious meals the whole family will enjoy, and tips on how to make the most of your time and money at school, home, and when you’re out and about.