9 tips for packing healthy, low waste lunchboxes

Lunchbox season is back…and your New Year’s resolution was to eat healthier, your kids included. This may now seem near impossible – but it’s not! Here are some simple solutions that are tasty, healthy and low waste too. The importance of mid-day nutrition often gets overlooked. Children have high energy requirements, so they need nutrient dense foods that will fuel their brains and bodies. Research shows that a nutritious lunch improves behaviour and concentration in the classroom, as well as, strengthens immunity, supports overall wellbeing and lowers the risk of obesity.

Use these guidelines to make the impossible, possible. 

  1. Plan ahead.  This is the key to packing consistent, healthy lunches. To avoid the morning rush, do the prep work and lunch selections on the weekend. Check in to see what they liked/didn’t like from the previous week. Leftovers make great lunches: homemade pizza, frittata, pasta or roasted vegetables are a super-fast healthy lunch.
  2. Have a baking day.  Choose a day to bake each week and involve the children if possible, most likely on the weekend. Choose low sugar recipes such as: tahini cookies, banana bread, muesli bars, bliss balls and popcorn balls . Wrap and freeze individual servings that are easy to grab in the morning and keep the lunchbox cool too. 
  3. Get your kids involved.  If kids have ownership over what they are eating, they are happier to eat it. Get them in the kitchen, preparing and packing lunches. For younger kids ask “Almonds or bliss balls”? “Carrots or cucumber”? They are more likely to eat what they choose.
  4. Make your own “pre packs”.  Wash, prep and chop fresh fruits and veggies once a week, making for quick options in the mornings. Hot tip: soak cut carrots in water until packing time, this keeps them from drying out.  Prep single servings of crackers, corn chips, granola and trail mix in small reusable containers. 
  5. Go plastic free.  Invest in a high-quality lunchbox with compartments. This allows for small, loose portions to suit your child’s appetite without using extra wrapping or single serve packaging. Use beeswax wraps to keep sandwiches and wraps fresh. 
  6. The well-balanced lunchbox.  To help power an afternoon of learning and growing, a nutritious lunch should include a lot of fibre and whole grains, some protein and healthy fat, a veggie, a piece of fresh fruit and occasionally a little treat.
  7. Eat the rainbow.  Encourage your kids to eat fresh fruit and veggies of every colour. The lunch box should include at least one colour. When you glance at the lunchbox, if it's all brown, add veggie sticks and beetroot hummus
  8. Organic where possible.  Research shows organic food is healthier, however it may not always be an option. A good place to start is the EWG list of the 12 most important foods to eat organic:  apples, celery, capsicum, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries and potatoes. With Vegebox, it's easy to get fresh, organic produce delivered to your door. 
  9. Healthy hydration  An eco-friendly bottle with good ‘ol water is always the best option. For a bit of flavour, add a slice of lemon or orange. Or fill it with cooled, herbal or berry tea

Shake up the sandwich scene with these fresh lunchbox ideas:

  • Wraps, pita and bagels offer endless options. Possible fillings include: tahini, honey and banana; hummus with veggies such as spinach, lettuce, shredded carrot or cabbage, sliced cucumber or cherry tomatoes; nut butter, raisins and sliced apple. 
  • Kids love dipping. Send them off to school with guacamole, hummus or carrot dip with crackers or veggie sticks.  Add these dips to wraps and sandwiches for added nutrition. 
  • Mini kebabs are fun to eat. Fruit is popular, but savoury kababs are more filling. Try cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cubes, basil leaves and cucumber or salami, cheese cubes and pineapple pieces. Note: kebabs keep better in cooler weather. 
  • How about an apple sandwich? Slice an apple into rounds, spread with nut butter, sprinkle with granola and top with another apple slice. 
  • Tuna salad with grated carrots, served with crackers or in a pita.
  • Little pancakes are great finger foods and can be loaded with healthy ingredients. 
  • Celery slices filled with nut butter and topped with raisins.
  • Hard-boiled egg, either whole or mashed with yoghurt as a sandwich filling.
  • Nuts are a great plant-based protein. Check your school has no restirctions. 
  • Thin cracker sandwiches made with tahini and shredded coconut.
  • Vegetarian, brown rice sushi rolls