School Lunchbox Tips

27 Aug 2015
POSTED BY Y Magazine

There’s more to packing a school bag than sticking in some pens and pencils; the food you provide your child with has a big impact on their academic performance

As you gear up for a new school year, it’s important to put your kids’ nutrition on the school checklist. Countless studies link school performance and healthy eating habits. Treat this season of “academic beginnings” as a chance for the whole family to take a fresh approach to better-for-you eating.

From on-the-go breakfasts and brag-worthy brown bag lunches to after-school snacks and family friendly dinners, there are plenty of ways to pack nutrition and flavour into every meal. Often, creating healthier meals can be as easy as simply trading-up or swapping one food ingredient for a more nutritious choice.

Selecting menu options that help your family eat better begins at the supermarket with your shopping decisions. If the A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s of food labels make your head spin, you can always use online tools to help, such as the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System, which provides lots of useful information.

You can take other steps to make shopping easier for healthy eating, says Marisa Paolillo, a nutritionist with NuVal.

First and foremost, she says, don’t go when you’re hungry. “It really is true. If you shop hungry, you’re more likely to toss foods into your trolley that will satisfy the hunger pangs at the moment, rather than what you actually need for the week ahead,” she adds.

Another smart shopping tip is to plan, plan, plan. Paolillo suggests starting out right by planning a full week’s worth of menus, then creating a shopping list. This not only streamlines meal preparation, it saves household budget, aids nutrition choices and reduces the frustration and extra time associated with return trips to the store.

  1. Determine what you will serve for breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners.
  2. Create a grocery list of food ingredients that are needed.
  3. Don’t forget to look out for special offers. Many supermarkets, such as Carrefour and LuLu have daily deals. (Consider swapping listed ingredients for seasonal or on-sale foods.)

“Taking a list to the grocery store will ensure that you stick to your budget and only buy what you need,” says Paolillo.


To make sure your little scholars are getting the right nutrition from morning to dusk, consider these:

Bring Breakfast-to-Go

Even if breakfast finds you crunched for time, prime the kids with morning nutrients to energise their day. Give them a breakfast boost with make-ahead options that can be enjoyed on the go in cars and buses. Try portable Scrambled Egg Cups or Oatmeal Cups, which provide plenty of protein to get them through the day.

Unbeatable “Brown Bag” Tips

When it comes to packing school lunches, stick to what your kids like. If they aren’t crazy about something, it may end up in the rubbish bin or get traded for an unhealthy snack. These simple swaps will make your kids’ brown bag lunch unbeatable:

  1. For sandwiches, swap white bread for healthier brown bread, Arabic wraps or pita.
  2. Replace deli meats with lean roasted beef or poultry or low fat cheese.
  3. For a delicious, nutritious sandwich spread, trade mayonnaise for a mashed avocado. Make fruits and vegetables a go-to snack. Chop up carrots, peppers and celery in advance and stash some in lunch bags with hummus; or sprinkle apple and pear slices with lemon and cinnamon to satisfy a sweet tooth.
  4. Choose water to hydrate and calcium and vitamin D-rich milk to strengthen growing bones.

Smart Swaps for After School

Crisps and packaged cookies move out of the way. Swap them for smart after-school snacks that are homemade, nutritious and fun to make.

Custom-create a smoothie. Have kids choose their favourite fruit and vegetables and toss them into the blender with ice and fat-free yoghurt for a snack that’s easy, fun and filling.

Make banana sushi rolls. Top a whole grain tortilla with nut butter and a whole banana sprinkled with cinnamon. Roll it up and slice like sushi rolls. (These are also great for lunches).

Other after-school smart snacks include:

  • Apple slices topped with almond butter.
  • Air-popped popcorn (Avoid microwave popcorn, which is often high in trans-fat and sodium).
  • Fresh salsa and tortilla chips.

Find nutritious trade-ups and family friendly meals to kick off the new school year at

* Family Features

Recipe: Scrambled Egg Muffins



  • 9 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/3 cup skimmed milk
  • 1/3 cup spelt flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Optional add-ins: 1/4 cup of either cooked turkey or beef bacon (crumbled) or smoked salmon, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350°C (Gas Mark 4)
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk.
  3. Add the rest of your ingredients and mix it all together
  4. Add spoonfuls of the mixture to a non-stick muffin tin. (Use a cup if need be).
  5. Pop them in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Check with a fork to make sure they are done.


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