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Melissa Little
Pediatric and Antenatal Dietician. She is a spokesperson for the British Dietetics Association on TV and in print. Member of the parliamentary group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood at Westminster for the UK Government.
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Child Nutrition

Is your child sick of the same old packed lunch?

Both parents and children can get fed up with making and eating the same packed lunch every day at school. Here are some suggestions on how to offer some new healthy options into your child's packed lunch box.
In Short
Include carbohydrates, dairy, fruit, vegetables and protein to your child's packed lunch.

If your child is sick of sandwiches try foods that children eat around the world such as pasta salad, scotch eggs and bento.

Homemade soup can be a great option in cold weather but just make sure your child can safely open the flask.

Sick of the same old lunch box?

Lunches don’t have to be the same thing every day and healthy does not automatically mean boring. Below are some ideas for healthy, fun lunches that your child will actually eat.

When planning a lunch you want to try to incorporate all 4 food groups: Fruits and Vegetables, Carbohydrates, Protein, and Dairy. All portion sizes should be right for your child dependent upon their age and size. Generally, this means an approximate handful (their handful NOT yours!) from each food group. Most parents make the mistake of packing too much and therefore shouldn’t be surprised if half comes back uneaten at the end of the day. By combining one option from each food group below you can make a healthy, well-balanced lunch that never gets boring.


Half a sandwich, cold pasta salad, half a jacket potato, half a bagel, couscous salad, potato salad, breadsticks, wraps, pitta pizzas, sushi, noodle salad.

Fruits and Vegetables

Any kind of fruit (a portion is half a large apple or 1 small apple), chopped peppers, cucumber, celery or carrots, vegetable salad, fruit salad, berries (hint: pack frozen and they will be thawed by lunch), smoothies, tinned fruit (packed in juice, not syrup), add vegetables to pasta or potato salad.


Sandwich meat (look for healthy options such as turkey, ham or chicken), tuna or salmon in sandwiches or salads, boiled egg, peanut butter*, nuts (a handful is a portion), eggy bread. (*You will need to check that you are allowed to take nuts into the school and that no child there has a nut allergy).


Yoghurt, fromage frais, cheese (strings, slices or cubes), milk, spreadable cheese, yogurt tubes (hint: these can be frozen for a hot day treat).

“There was a lovely Japanese Mum at my son’s primary school when he was about 5 or 6. Every day she would send her son into school with the most beautiful lunch boxes. Carrots cut into pretty shapes – apples with peels curling back into flowers. Little sandwiches with lovely fillings – all cut up tiny. Not that I had the time ever to even think about doing this myself – but all the kids in the class would love looking into his lunchbox to see what treats he had that day. The idea I guess is to think about how things look as well as how they taste – especially if you need to encourage your child to eat!”
Diana – Co-Founder, Essential Parent
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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.