Outside the box
Here’s how to pack plant-based lunchboxes with nutritional cred that’ll keep little ones well fed.
Packing a nutritious lunchbox for schoolkids is important because it’s such a big part of their overall diet. Not only does this contribute to their physical health and development, but a healthy, balanced lunchbox can also help them concentrate and learn.
As a mum, I understand we can’t be perfect every day, but if you aim to send your child to school with wholesome foods that are suitable for their age and nutritional needs most days, they will reap the benefits. A nutritious lunchbox should contain vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and a source of protein. This will give your child the energy they need to get through the day and the ability to stay focused in the classroom.
Don’t worry too much about packing an Insta-worthy lunchbox that may well come home full! Instead focus on foods your child will actually eat, including at least one or two items you know they will definitely enjoy. The lunchbox isn’t the best place to try out new fruits or vegetables. In particular, familiar foods can help younger kids make the transition to school that little bit easier.
School playgrounds are full of friends, distractions, and better things to do than linger over a long lunch! This means lunchboxes need to contain healthy foods that are quick, easy, and delicious.
Children’s lunchboxes should focus on protein and complex carbohydrates to provide energy for their active days. Here’s the elements you want to make sure you tick off in those lunchboxes:
Options include tofu, hummus, beans, legume pastas, lentils, and seeds.
What to pack: lentil sausage rolls, tofu sandwiches, hummus wraps, lentil balls, legume pasta salads, protein bliss balls, savoury chickpea muffins, or protein-packed chia puddings.
TWO OR THREE COMPLEX CARBS
Options include wholemeal bread, wholegrain crackers, brown rice, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, and potatoes.
What to pack: wholemeal sandwiches, wholemeal wraps, buckwheat pancakes or muffins, nori rolls, pasta or potato salad, bliss balls with oats, or brown rice crackers.
TWO OR THREE VEGETABLES
Options include a range of colourful raw or cooked vegetables.
What to pack: raw veggie dippers such as carrots, celery, capsicum, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes. Also, cooked vegetables pieces or grated zucchini in muffins, spinach in toasted quesadillas, and pumpkin in sausage rolls.
Options include any serving of fresh fruit your child loves.
What to pack: berries, apple, mandarin, banana, stone fruits, and grapes (cut grapes for little ones to avoid a choking hazard).
ONE HEALTHY FAT
Options include olives, avocado, seeds, and nuts (if allowed).
What to pack: avocado in wraps, sandwiches or sushi, pitted olives, hemp seeds sprinkled in wraps and sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches, and seed butter sandwiches.
Browse the Nourish recipe collection for kid-friendly meals, lunch box and finger food ideas, and lots more recipe inspiration for the whole family!