Packing the lunchbox every…single…day is such a time consuming task and one that is often overwhelming, especially for parents with little ones starting school or kindy, but it doesn’t have to be this way!

To make your life easier, we sat down with Abbey, a university qualified nutritionist who helps busy parents pack simple, nutritionally balanced lunchboxes, fast!

Below are her top 3 tips to have you packing a simple, nutritionally balanced lunchbox in no time at all.

TIP #1 - Include something from each of the Australian 5 food groups:

  • Fruit - Aim for a rainbow of different colours to increase the variety of nutrients consumed.

Our Lunchbox favourites -

apple, berries, rockmelon, kiwifruit, grapes, prunes

  • Vegetables - Aim to include raw salad vegetables and add extra vegetables where possible to baked goods or prepared dishes to bump up the quantity.

Our Lunchbox favourites -

carrot, corn, capsicum, cucumber, tomato, avocado

  • Grains – Aim for wholegrain varieties over highly processed refined white options. Wholegrain varieties are higher in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Our Lunchbox favourites -

wholegrain: bread, wraps, rice, pasta, crackers

  • Dairy/Calcium – Dairy food like milk, cheese and yoghurt provide calcium in a readily absorbable and convenient form. If your child needs to avoid dairy foods make suitable alternative choices to ensure they are still providing the important nutrients this food groups contains.

Our Lunchbox favourites -

sugar free yoghurt, cheese, cream cheese

  • Protein –. Protein foods include all kinds of lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans. If not eating a vegetarian diet, aim to include a mix of animal and plant based protein.

Our Lunchbox favourites -

roast meat, eggs, tuna, seed crackers, chickpeas

TIP #2 – Save some leftover protein from dinner.

Protein, I find, is one of the most difficult food groups to include in the lunchbox and one I often see missing altogether! Protein and the important vitamins and minerals it contains provides children with the building blocks for growth and development. Protein makes us feel full and helps to prevent that energy slump early afternoon.

Following your evening meal, where possible, save a portion of protein and re-purpose it for the next day’s lunchbox:

  • Roast chicken with vegetables is a regular dinner at our house. I save some of the roast chicken and add it to the lunchbox in a wrap or sandwich.

  • Spaghetti and meatballs is another favourite dinner we have, I save some of the meatballs before adding the pasta sauce and add them to the lunchbox.

When there is no protein leftover for the lunchbox - I use tuna, roasted chickpeas or eggs as easy protein options.

TIP #3 – Pack the lunchbox in the evening

I don’t know about you but our house in the morning is always a bit of a mad rush! I find taking a few extra minutes in the evening to pack the lunchbox, makes our mornings run much smoother. Always keep the packed lunchbox in the fridge overnight. In the morning put the lunchbox in an insulated lunch bag with a good quality ice pack to keep everything fresh and safe and you’re on your way!

We hope these 3 simple steps will save you time, stress and worry about what to pack in the lunchbox. For food group inspiration head to Abbey’s website to download her free lunchbox cheat sheet - You’ll also find her on Instagram @the.lunchbox.nutritionist sharing healthy lunchbox combinations and nutrition tips.

Abbey is a university qualified nutritionist and mum of two school aged children. She helps busy parents pack simple, nutritionally balanced lunchboxes, fast! She has also just released her very first product – The Smooshie Bottle! A smoothie and snack bottle in one. The perfect companion for on-the-go nutrition. Check it out here

December 15, 2022 — Michelle Leach

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