Packed Lunches - Keep it healthy!
Healthy packed lunches: Food Fact Sheet
Packed lunches don’t have to be boring. With a little thought and imagination they can be fun, healthy and tasty too.
Follow these tips to ensure you have a nutritious and delicious lunch - however please remember...
We are a Nut Free school - no peanuts, Nutella, peanut butter, etc
No Sweets or chocolate bars!
Fill up on fibre
Starchy carbohydrates are a really important part of a healthy diet and should make up about a third of the food we eat. They are packed full of nutrients (including B vitamins, iron and fibre) and you should include a little at each meal to keep your energy levels up during the day:
Try to keep a selection of breads in the freezer for sandwiches and choose wholegrain varieties when you can. Using a different type of bread each day can make sandwiches more interesting. Try multigrain and seed rolls, bagels, bread rolls, baguettes, pitta breads, Use up all the vegetables in the fridge! Vegetable or fruit toppings such as pineapple, sweetcorn or peppers can be added to sandwiches for a special twist.
- Alternatively, cook extra pasta, couscous, rice, quinoa, potatoes or sweet potatoes and mix with cut-up vegetables or tuna, then just add your favourite low-calorie dressing.
Power up with protein
Try to include lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, beans or pulses in your lunchbox because they are a great source of protein which is needed for the growth and repair of your body. Try:
- tuna with cucumber, green pepper, sweetcorn or tomato
- choose oily fish such as tinned sardines or mackerel on toast once or twice a week - a great source of omega-3 which may help to keep your heart healthy
- egg mayonnaise and watercress
- cottage cheese and dried apricots
- cooked chicken or turkey, mustard, tomatoes and lettuce
- chicken breast, cheese and tomato
- for beans and pulses try lentil soup, hummus with red pepper/grated carrot or a mixed bean salad
Remember if you use a fat spread, it’s important that you get the portion control right, or use plant-based fats (like avocado lightly mashed with a fork).
Always add fruit and veg
It’s important to eat five (or more) portions of fruit and vegetables every day to prevent heart disease and reduce the risk of some types of cancer. Below are some good ideas to get plenty at lunchtime:
- sliced salad vegetables in sandwiches – such as cucumber, tomato or avocado
- chopped raw vegetable crudités e.g. carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, or a mixed salad - these can be great for dipping in hummus, low-fat cream cheese or cottage cheese
- fresh fruit e.g. apple, grapes, banana, kiwi fruit
- dried fruits e.g. raisins, apricots
- tinned fruit in natural juice – the cheapest option is to decant into a small container, alternatively buy in small tins with a ring pull
It is important to stay hydrated during the day – current recommendations are for women to drink 1.6 litres and men two litres of water (or other fluids) per day (equivalent to eight to ten glasses). When the weather is warm or if you are more active you may need more. Avoid soft and fizzy drinks that are high in added sugars, instead choose from:
- plain water (still or sparkling) is always best
- plain milk (skimmed or semi-skimmed) or plain yoghurt combined with fruit e.g. smoothies, pureed fruit with plain yoghurt
Try to include some dairy products in your lunchbox as calcium is important to keep your teeth healthy and your bones strong. Opt for no added sugar or lower added sugar varieties where possible:
- low fat yoghurt – plain or fruit
- low fat fromage frais
- small pot of rice pudding
- unsweetened yoghurt with fruit for sweetness
- cheese in a sandwich will also count
- if you can’t eat dairy – try adding a fortified non-dairy alternative.
As you can see there are lots of foods that can be used to make a packed lunch varied and tasty. Just remember to include something from each of the four main food groups, as well as a drink, and you’ll not only have a meal to look forward to, but a lunchbox packed full of all the right nutrients to fuel your body for the rest of the day.