What is a healthy packed lunch?

There has been a lot in the news in the UK recently about packed lunches, as there has been a suggestion that packed lunches should be banned! This is to encourage more children to have healthy school dinners, as packed lunches are allegedly full of unhealthy foods such as crisps and chocolates, according to a new report. But what is a healthy packed lunch?

As school is almost out for the summer (woohoo!)….packed lunches are about to become a thing of the past (for 6 weeks) but with all of this amazing weather we are currently experiencing in the UK, picnics are a popular lunch or dinner option. You could use these packed lunch ideas for picnics too.

So…what is a healthy packed lunch?

No surprises here, but it should contain a balance of foods from all the different food groups. Try combining ideas from the groups below for some tasty and different ideas for your child’s packed lunch.

Is your child tired of sandwiches? Here are some alternative ideas:

Pitta, Wraps, Rice cakes, Bagel (½), Pasta salad, Rice salad, Couscous, Bulgar wheat

Also try different types of breads – granary, brown, ‘best of both’, seeded, soda bread, rye bread, oat-based bread, etc so that you child does not get bored of one type.

Protein ideas:

Boiled egg, Cheese, Falafel or Hummus, Salmon or Tuna, Chicken, Lean beef, Peanut butter

Fruits and vegetables – all types (fresh, dried, frozen, tinned – in juice)

A drink – water preferable

Dairy products – eg. 150-200ml milk, 30g cheese (matchbox size), 150g pot of yoghurt

Some examples:

  • Falafel and hummus pitta with carrot sticks, baby tomatoes and peppers; fruit kebabs and yoghurt.
  • Lean beef mince in a wrap with mushrooms and peppers (can be leftovers from the night before); natural yoghurt with blueberries
  • Rice cakes with peanut butter and apple slices.; pot of yoghurt
  • Salmon and cream cheese bagel with cucumber; orange segments or grapes
  • Tuna pasta (or rice) salad with apple, gherkins and celery; cubes of cheese and raisins
  • Chicken and sweet corn sandwich on brown bread; cubes of melon and a Frube (squeezie yoghurt)
  • Boiled egg with plain crackers or oatcakes with side salad (carrots, baby tomatoes, cucumber) and fruit yoghurt
  • Couscous or bulgar wheat salad with cucumber, tomatoes, onion (chopped finely) with a lemon and olive oil dressing; add cubes of cheese and pineapple/mango slices for dessert

Remember to provide a drink of water with each packed lunch, especially in this hot weather we are having (in the UK)

TOP TIP: freeze a bottle of water or a squeezie yoghurt to place in the lunch box – it will keep all the other foods cool and will defrost by the time it is lunch time!

 Paula x


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