How to make a lunchbox that is Healthy and actually Eaten - Tips from a Nutritionist

How to make a lunchbox that is Healthy and actually Eaten - Tips from a Nutritionist


Making lunchboxes can feel overwhelming. From choosing foods your child will actually eat, navigating ever-changing food preferences, making the food and then finding time to pack the thing (day after day)'s no wonder we find ourselves on Pinterest at 11pm searching for lunchbox ideas.

Here are my top tips as a nutritionist and mum to three (who totally gets it) for packing lunchboxes that are healthy AND actually eaten.


Keep the lunchbox familiar

This tip is key for anyone who might feel like they have a fussier eater or find the lunchbox is coming home uneaten. I know it's so hard when you look online and see amazing Pinterest-worthy lunchboxes BUT it's important to remember, YOU are your child's safe person and the best place to introduce new or learning to like foods is when a child feels safe.  If you're wanting to try a new recipe, try it at home first and move it to the lunchbox only after you've first tried it at home.


Seasonal fruit and veggies make a quick, affordable and healthy snack for kids at school

Choose 1-2 of your child's favourite fruit and vegetables each week (more if the budget allows). Fruit and veggies require minimal prep and make a great portable snack!  Our favourites include berries, grapes, apples, bananas, cherry tomatoes and sticks of cucumber and carrot.


Prep ahead of time and make friends with your freezer

If you're not freezing snacks for the lunchbox you will thank me after reading this! It might surprise you that each weekend I spend no longer than an hour prepping snacks for my kids for the week ahead - usually while I'm pottering around the house and playing with the kids.

Here's the secret: batch make 1-3 recipes each weekend and pack up half for the freezer. Within a few weeks you'll have a freezer stash to rely on when it's Thursday and there is nothing left in the fridge (just me...?).  Muffins, pancakes, scrolls, mini pizzas and even *some* sandwiches can be made ahead of time and frozen for a super quick lunchbox.


You don’t have to do it all yourself

When choosing packaged food look for items made with whole food ingredients you recognise. Aim for snacks with less than 120mg sodium per 100g and minimal added sugar where possible.


Think of the day as a whole

If a school snack contains a little more sodium or sugar than ideal, simply choose lower sodium and no-added-sugar snacks and meals for the remainder of the day.


The HNK fail-safe lunchbox packing guide is to choose:

  • 1-2 serves fruit
  • 1-2 serves vegetables (even if only for consistent exposure - add them in!)
  • A dry/crunchy snack (such as crackers, dried beans or a homemade nut-free trail mix)
  • A baked good (such as muffins, nut free bliss balls or pancakes)
  • A main lunch option (ideally one that includes a source of protein and fat)


If you're like me and love the feeling and satisfaction of planning, check out my brand new lunchbox planner. With 50 luxe planner sheets to cover the school year, a tear off shopping list, space to plan your prep and (perhaps most importantly) our HNK lunchbox planner guide for healthy and actually-eaten lunches you'll be wondering how you ever survived without it (at least, I am!).

PS. Use HNK10 for 10% off your order. 

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