Top tips for a healthy packed school lunch

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Thursday, August 29th, 2019

It’s almost back to school time, so the Public Health Agency (PHA) has some top tips for packing a healthy and nutritious lunchbox for the kids.

“Recent surveys looking at children’s lunchboxes found that they were too high in fat, especially saturated fat, salt and sugar,” said Judith Hanvey, Regional Food in Schools Coordinator, appointed jointly by the PHA and the Department of Education.

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“Just under half of the lunchboxes contained no fruit. It is important to include a balanced variety of foods in a packed lunch so that your child can get all the nutrients they need.



She added, “Avoid fizzy drinks and snacks high in added fat, salt and sugars, and remember that kids only need child-sized portions of food.”

The PHA’s leaflet ‘Are you packing a healthy lunch’ has lots of advice and lunchbox ideas, and it is available online at

“There are lots of foods available in our supermarkets that are marketed for lunchboxes such as processed fruit snacks, squeezy yoghurts, yoghurt on sticks and cereal /muesli bars. However these are often high in fat, salt and sugars,” said Judith.

“It can be confusing, but picking the healthier option isn’t just good for nourishment, it can also help with pupils’ concentration and behaviour in the classroom.”



If you are tired of packing the same old lunch, try these ideas to add variety:

  1. Bagel with tuna, sweetcorn and low-fat mayo. Fresh fruit chopped into plain yoghurt. Water.
  2. Soda bread pizza with tomato and cheese. Vegetable sticks with hummus. Small fruit smoothie.
  3. Roast beef, lettuce and tomato roll. Fruit salad. Plain yoghurt. Water.
  4. Rice salad with salmon and vegetables. Kiwi Fruit. Milk.
  5. Crackers, cheese and chopped cherry tomatoes. Slice of plain cake. Berry fruit pot. Water.
  6. Ham and vegetable pasta. Chopped grapes. Plain yoghurt. Unsweetened small fruit juice.
  7. Cheese and salad in pitta bread. Banana. Plain yoghurt. Water.
  8. Egg and onion sandwich. Carrot sticks. Fruit pot. Milk.
  9. Chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion and low-fat mayo wrap. Chopped grapes. Pot of low-sugar custard. Water.
  10. Vegetable soup and wheaten bread. Apple. Milk.



Fruit juice and smoothies should be limited to a total of 150ml a day.

“Involve your kids in making up their lunch,” said Judith. “Picking healthier foods is an important step in establishing good eating habits that will benefit them throughout their lives, helping them to stay at a healthy weight.”



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