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What is a healthy lunch?

Are you tired of preparing the same old thing for lunch? We hear you! Finding inspiration is not always easy.  But here are some practical tips and tasty options that might tempt your little ones.

Top tips

  • Get your child involved in choosing what they include in their lunches – offer a choice between two healthy options e.g. sliced bread or a bagel. You don’t need to offer the choice on all items on the lunch menu, just one or two.
  • Include a wide variety of food types 
    • carbohydrate foods like bread or pasta,
    • protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs or pulses,
    • dairy foods – milk, cheese or yoghurt, and
    • plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Try to offer different foods every day - they may just want to stick with their favourites but encouraging them to eat a variety of foods is really important.
  • Cook extra meat, fish or eggs in the evening and you can use these in lunch the next day. Food can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days after it’s cooked.
  • Vary the types of bread e.g. pitta bread, bagels, wholemeal rolls - keep a stock in the freezer so you don’t run out.
  • Consider home-made soup. It is great for cold days - especially at weekends, while salads are light and refreshing for warmer weather.
  • Include a drink in lunch as children need up to 6 cups of fluid daily. Milk and water are the best options.
  • Straws and brightly coloured drinks bottles can make rehydrating more interesting!

Useful links

Common parental concerns

My child’s lunchbox comes home untouched

Talk to child calmly about why they don’t eat it – they may not like certain foods, or a friend might give them something else. Getting them involved in making choices and preparing lunch can have a big impact on what they eat.

Don’t have time in the morning to make healthy lunch

Prepare lunch the night before and have it stored in a container in the fridge ready to go in the morning.

My child doesn’t have enough time to eat all their lunch in school

The key here is preparation. Cut sandwiches into quarters. Provide bite sized snacks such as cherry tomatoes and grapes. Cut fruit and vegetables into small slices.

There is no fridge at school to keep their lunch

Invest in an insulated lunch bag or box that can keep food cool. A small ice pack can also be used or include a frozen bottle of water. Advise your child to keep their lunchbox away from radiators or direct sunlight. 

© The Food Safety Promotion Board