Putting A School Lunch Together

Maria Foy | Happy Mum Happy Child


I recently got asked a whole bunch of questions by a reporter at Stuff.co.nz regarding the How To Pack The Perfect School Lunch. They decided not to use my responses, but I wanted to still write my own article based on my answers to get my perspective on it.

I’m not a health professional, or a nutritionist; all I am is a Mum trying to feed my kids. I’m just here to offer my opinion and show you the way I do things. You don’t have to have the perfect lunch box – but you do have to think about what will help your children get through the day. Balance, in my opinion, is key.

As I always say with everything I write: knowledge is power. Take what you want from my answers. As I said above, I am not an expert, just a Mum with an opinion.

Here are the questions I was asked, and my answers:


When preparing a lunchbox what are some things to keep in mind to ensure it’s nutritionally balanced?
Children need food that contains energy that releases slowly. Sugar-laden foods release energy quickly in the body, whereas food containing protein (eggs, chicken, etc), carbs (bread, oats etc) and beans (lentils, green beans, etc) release the energy slower – meaning the child will feel fuller for longer and have more energy to learn and play during the day.

How can preparing lunches be kept easy, stress-free for parents?
Don’t stress about presenting an amazing looking lunch box – do what works for you and your family and what is in your budget. Try and prepare the lunches the night before, makes it much easier the next day. Also utilise leftovers from dinner if you can!

In your experience what is the most popular lunchbox food with kids?
The most popular and most used is probably the sandwich. Certainly in our house – an everyday staple in the lunchbox.

What are some of the worst lunchbox foods and why?
Chips, chocolate, lollies, and fizzy drink – these are basically empty calories. There’s nothing in them other than being fun and sweet to eat. As I said above, children need slow releasing energy foods, not quick releasing ones.

What are your top ten favourite lunchbox foods and why?
A sandwich, cherry tomatoes, cheese, apples, yoghurt, home baking, carrots, cucumber, celery and popcorn. These are all foods which are good for our kids and are eaten by them too. Also, these are things for us that aren’t too expensive, and we usually have them in the pantry every week.

If you could make the ultimate kids lunchbox what would you put in it?
I actually wouldn’t go out of my way to do anything too over-the-top, purely because my kids might not eat it. The ultimate lunchbox would contain everything my kids eat – which is what is in the top ten favourite lunch box foods list.

What are your top 5 tips to keeping lunchboxes fun and interesting for kids?
Have a fun looking lunchbox – you don’t have to spend a lot of money on this. Sistema have an amazing range. I wrote a post about this if you want to get some info from there: https://www.happymumhappychild.co.nz/tips-amazing-lunch-box/

How can parents get their children involved with preparing lunch?
I don’t expect my children to help out with the lunches, however some parents do. Ask them what they might like for lunch, or perhaps in the afternoon get your kids to help prepare the lunch box for the next day.

Why should parents diversify from the old Vegemite sandwich and piece fruit lunch and put more variation/effort into their kids lunch?
It’s more widely known now that children need variety in their diet. So many lunch boxes now have different compartments which encourage variety. There’s nothing wrong with a sandwich and a piece of fruit – nothing at all. That’s all my lunch boxes are, except I include a little more than two things. In my experience, simple is best – just try and keep it healthy and remember that your kids need food that helps to keep their energy going for the whole day. Not just for five minutes.


Lunchbox Ideas For Kids
The Ultimate Lunch Box Review
Where To Buy Bento Style Lunchboxes
My Lunchbox Creations
The Ultimate Guide To Filling Your Kids Lunches


Having a fun looking lunch box is great, but I know it’s not always possible. Especially if your budget doesn’t allow for it. Ensuring there are a variety of healthy-ish foods in a lunch box, to help your child get through the day, is key. Balance is key.

Also, we all know that kids can be fussy! So we have to work with what we’ve got right?!

Here’s the Stuff article.

How’d I do? What do you think of what I’ve written? All comments welcome 🙂


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