Packed lunch

egg ham spinach pitta pockets 01 (h)

Here are some great packed lunch ideas to help you create a tasty and healthier lunchbox:

Variety underlies any healthier diet so try to vary the contents of the lunchbox any chance you get

Always include a sandwich — but don't forget that instead of sliced bread you could use wraps, ciabatta, rolls, pitta breads, etc. Try to use wholegrain bread, which will provide fibre and help your child feel full. If your children aren't used to eating wholegrain bread, use softgrain bread initially and gradually change over to wholegrain bread.

Try to include a piece of fresh fruit or some dried fruit, to help your child get their "5 a day".

Vegetables can be sneaked into the lunchbox in many forms — add a bag of carrot sticks or baby tomatoes, grate carrot and use in sandwich fillings or add sweetcorn to tuna.

At home, include the kids in their lunch preparation. Take into account their tastes and let them select one new fruit and vegetable to try each week.

Keep it simple. Avoid messy mushy food which may turn your child off their food. If a sandwich filler makes the bread mushy before it is eaten, wrap the filler up in tinfoil so it can be added when needed.

Keep it small. Ensure food is manageable for little hands. Cut apples and carrots into slices. Cut sandwiches into four pieces.

Children become easily dehydrated, so don't forget drinks. Add bottled water, milk or 100% fruit juices to school lunch boxes. However, fruit juices should be limited to meal times due to their high sugar content. Try diluting fruit juice, 2 parts water to 1 part juice to reduce the sugar content. If you freeze cartons of fruit juice the night before, not only will they act as lunchbox cooler but the juice will be nicely chilled at lunchtime.

Meals should contain:

At least one portion of fruit and one portion of vegetables

A source of protein — meat, fish or other source of non-dairy protein (e.g. pulses)

Include an oily fish option if possible

A starchy food such as any type of bread, pasta, rice, couscous, noodles, potatoes or other type of cereals

A source of Calcium — typically a dairy food such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, Fromage Frais

A drink, such as water, fruit juice, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, yoghurt or milk drinks and smoothies

Other things to consider:

Gluten free and dairy free options

Overall nutrient content — specific criteria need to be considered to avoid a poor combination of foods

“The Sandwich”— i.e. the Protein and Carbohydrate element

Made with wholemeal or soft grain breads which children prefer. A bread with more fibre and less sodium than ordinary bread would be beneficial

Rolls, ciabatta, bagels, wraps or pitta breads

Use a low fat spread — not all fillings need a spread — for example if you are using a mayonnaise in the sandwich

Using reduced fat mayonnaises and salad creams

Add salad to savoury sandwiches


Finely grated carrot and reduced fat cheddar - mixed together

Tinned fish with diced peppers, cucumber and sweetcorn, mixed with reduced fat mayonnaise

Reduced fat soft cheese, tomato relish and lettuce

Egg mayonnaise - hard boiled eggs with reduced fat mayonnaise and green salad leaves

Lean meats with pickles and green salads

A mix of celery, tuna, kidney beans and chopped tomatoes inside pitta breads

Houmous with green salad or roasted vegetables

Alternatives to sandwiches

Small amounts of different cheeses with crackers

Cold nut roast

Raw vegetable sticks with dip - houmous, cottage cheese or salsa

Tub of salad with a pitta bread or wholegrain roll

Pasta with tuna and sweetcorn

A rice based meal with toppings such as chicken, peppers, red onions and tomatoes

Bean salad mixed with tomato, avocado and a reduced fat French dressing

Tofu, baby spinach leaves, peppers and cherry tomatoes

Products from the Tesco Goodness Range that could be included:


Mini mild Cheddar sticks

Goodness Fromage Frais pots

Strawberry Probiotic Yogurt drink

Fromage Frais tubes

Seedless Raisins Mini pack

Fruity layered Fromage Frais

Strawberry Jelly

Double Bubble Mousse


Tropical Juice from Concentrate with added Calcium 200ml

Apple Juice from Concentrate with added Calcium 200ml

Tropical Smoothie 180ml

Raspberry and Blueberry Smoothie 180ml

Mountain Spring Still Water 330ml


Fun-size Pear

Easy Peeler

Fun-size Apple

Fun-size Banana

Organic Fun-size Banana

Organic fun-size apple

Fruit-a-day dried fruit pack

Prepared Fresh Fruit

Portion size:

Many of the foods listed above are sold in multi-pack formats but in the meal, 1 of each item should be given to each child.

An example of what a Healthy lunchbox meal could contain:

Packed Lunch idea 1

Apple Juice

1 mini mild Cheddar stick

A chicken salad wrap

1 Fromage Frais Pot

1 Easy Peeler orange

Packed Lunch idea 2

Mountain Spring Still Water

Organic pitta with tuna/sweetcorn filling

Easy Peeler Orange

1 Organic Fun-size Banana

1 Mini mild cheddar stick

Cherry tomatoes

1 Fromage Frais tube

Try to avoid:

Snacks such as crisps

Confectionery such as chocolate bars, chocolate-coated biscuits and sweets

Meat products such as sausage rolls, individual pies, corned meat and sausages/chipolatas

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