Healthy lunch box ideas for children

Packed lunches are often a great idea, especially if you want to have more say over what your child is eating during the day.

However, it is important packed lunches are as healthy and balanced as any meal you would make at home. Make sure you include foods that contain all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients your child needs to stay strong and healthy.

How to keep lunch exciting

It's easy to fall into the trap of giving your child the same food every day for ease, but you should aim to vary what you put in their lunch box. Opt for a different piece of fruit each day, as well as a variety of bread and sandwich fillings. If they liked dinner from the night before - and it's appropriate - give them another portion for lunch. Quiche, pasta salad, left over chicken, beef or fish can all make excellent lunches.

Due to the number of children suffering nut allergies, many schools ban nuts from lunch boxes. It's therefore safer to opt for raw seeds like sunflower and pumpkin, both of which are delicious and vital sources of essential nutrients.

It's tempting to give your children handy, snack-sized packets of sweets, chocolates or crisps. However there are lots of healthier alternatives children will love.

Here is a weekly meal plan you can follow for some more ideas and inspiration:

Monday

Semi-skimmed milk

Mini box of raisins

A piece of seasonal fruit

Raw carrot sticks

Egg and cress wholemeal bagel

Tuesday

Bottle of water

Light Babybel

A piece of seasonal fruit

Kale crisps

Beef, lettuce and tomato sandwich on multigrain bread

Wednesday

Semi-skimmed milk

Crackers with cream cheese

A piece of seasonal fruit

Raw peppers with a hummus dip

Seeded brown bread roll with chicken and avocado

Thursday

Bottle of water

Pot of unsweetened plain yoghurt

A piece of seasonal fruit

Parsnip/sweet potato crisps

Wholemeal bread sandwich with cottage cheese, ham and spinach

Friday

Semi-skimmed milk

Hard-boiled egg

A piece of seasonal fruit

Edamame

Wholemeal pitta bread with cheddar cheese and tomato

References:

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/childhealth6-15/Pages/Lighterlunchboxes.aspx

http://www.nhs.uk/change4life/Pages/healthy-lunchbox-picnic.aspx