Parents and carers are often called the ‘nutritional gatekeepers’ in the home, meaning that they hold the biggest food influence on the lives of their children and also their partners. For some, food preparation can be an onerous task that seems never ending. In this section of our website you will find many useful tips and general ideas that can make the task easier and help you to ensure all the members of your household are receiving the best possible nutrition.
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.
For additional resources for EALD/D families see the Department of Education’s EALD/D page .
Lunchbox and after school snack resources
Use the menu planner for ideas and to help with the planning.
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
For lunchbox ideas and recipes as well as ways to keep the lunchbox cool and safe in summer download the Cancer Council’s Packed with Goodness booklet.
Lunchbox rewards and 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.
After school snacks should be just as healthy as those that go into lunchboxes, for healthy ideas see our top ten list here; cut the list out and place it on the fridge as a daily reminder.
Packed with Goodness Lunchbox Session
Cancer Council WA are offering FREE healthy lunchbox education sessions for parents at all Western Australian primary schools.
The sessions are 90 minutes in length and cover the following topics:
• the importance of fruit and vegies for kids
• tips for packing a healthy lunchbox
• healthy alternatives to pre-packaged snacks
• label reading
• the best drink choices for kids
Each parent will receive a free resource kit to take home, packed with information and goodies to get started. If you would like to book a Packed with Goodness session at your school contact firstname.lastname@example.org or seek further information at crunchandsip.com.au.
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.
Food allergy in the home
New video resources have been developed by the National Allergy Strategy to help parents, carers and people with allergies to select, prepare and store food safely in the home. This series of seven short videos provides practical advice on:
- food storage
- food preparation and separation
- food labels: what must be included, unlabelled foods and precautionary labels.
Head to the Food Allergy Aware website for access to the video series.
Reading nutrition information panels
On food labels in Australia and New Zealand, nutrition figures are presented in a standard table format called the Nutrition Information Panel or NIP. This shows quantities per serve and per 100g it is an invaluable tool to assess how nutritious the food may be. However understanding exactly what it means can be tricky. The Reading Food Labels poster developed by FSANZ clearly explains all the elements in a simple way. Also, you may have heard about the new Country of origin labelling – Catherine Saxelby, one of Australias leading nutrition experts, breaks this down in her blog.
The Eat for Health website has useful information to help you navigate your way around a label. You can also download a handy card to be printed and cut out for your wallet. Use it as an easy reference guide when shopping.
Basic label reading tips :
- Ingredients are listed in order of weight so if sugar is listed first or second this is probably not a healthy choice
- Compare products using the 100g column of the nutrition information panel rather than ‘per serve’ as each product serve size may vary
- When comparing similar products choose those higher in fibre and lower in saturated fat, sodium (salt) and sugar
- Terms such as ‘Lite’, ‘Light’, ‘Sugar free’ and ‘no added sugar’ can sometimes be deceiving. To see if this product is a healthier choice compare it to another similar product.
And the biggest tip of all… Some of the healthiest products are those that have no labels such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Vegetarian diets are becoming more and more popular. If you feel a little out of your depth when it comes to making sure your family members are still receiving all the vital nutrients they need from a meat free diet see out Vegetarian fact sheet. Plus our recipe page has loads of vegetarian options.
Resources and links
Download the Australian Government’s Healthy Eating for Children brochure to learn about the amount and kinds of food children and adolescents need to eat for health and wellbeing.
‘Getting Kids to Eat Well’ by Glenn Cardwell is a fantastic quick read that will put feeding kids in perspective. The book, plus other information are all available from Glenn’s website.
We all know how important dairy foods are for growing strong bones. Dairy Australia has a wealth of information and great recipes.
Heart Foundation has a range of healthy and delicious recipes and many lunchbox tips to inspire you.
Parents Voice is “your voice on food and activity”. They regularly run advocacy campaigns around children’s food and physical activity issues; represent their members’ collective voice in the media; and lobby governments, food manufacturers and key decision makers for improvements.
Foodbank WA also run great nutrition programs in schools that have amazing recipes for you to try at home, check out their Food Sensations program here.
Funded by the WA Department of Health the Better Health Program (BHP) is a free 10-week healthy lifestyle program for children aged 7-13 years who are above a healthy weight and their families. Program sessions are 2 hours long and are held after school across a school term. Programs are offered at various sport and leisure or community facilities in the Perth metropolitan area.