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Healthy Lunches Help Children Learn with Infographic

Infographic on healthy lunches for kids


Making a packed lunch every day can be quite a test of parents' ingenuity, so here at Real Foods we’ve put our heads together to come up with some suggestions that may help.

It's all too easy to fall into a boring routine of sandwich, crisps, chocolate bar and a drink. While that's not an appalling daily diet, it could be better. There are some very simple changes you could make – try replacing the crisps with some dried fruit or vegetable crisps. Rice cakes are often popular, or try a raw snackbar to pack in some energy and nutrition.

There are some excellent quick and easy ways to make a child's lunchbox a bit more interesting - and healthier!

  1. Make it easy for your child to eat fruit by making colourful skewers with bite-sized pieces of fruit.
  2. Many lunchbox specials such as cheese strings or crisps are very high in salt. Keep these as special treats and help balance the effect of the salt by including food that is high in potassium such as banana or apricot.
  3. If the weather is cold there is nothing like a cup of homemade soup to warm and nourish. A wide mouth mini Thermos flask is a great addition to your child’s lunch box equipment. Try some of our soup recipes here.
  4. To keep salads and fruits fresh include a frozen drink in the lunch box. By lunch time it will be defrosted having done its job of keeping the contents of the lunchbox cool. Choose pure fruit juice, not fruit juice ‘drinks’ which tend to be high in added sugar.
  5. Make the lunch the night before and pop into the fridge to keep it fresh. Just don’t forget to grab it before heading out the next morning!


A healthy lunchbox should help to improve your child's attention, behaviour and learning throughout the afternoon.

It should contain:

  • a source of protein to keep children alert
  • complex carbohydrates for slow-release energy
  • calcium for growth, healthy bones and teeth
  • fruit and vegetables for vitamins and minerals


Make sandwiches using fillings such as egg, houmous, pates or cheese. A salad with cubes of cheese or tofu makes an exciting change from sandwiches and will be a good source of protein. Real Foods have a great and varied selection of ‘cheep’ eggs, protein rich sandwich fillings and cheeses.


Choose complex carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, pasta or rice. Complex carbohydrates release energy slowly and help to keep concentration levels up. In contrast, refined carbohydrates (as in white bread, biscuits or cakes) provide short-lived energy. For variety, try using different wholemeal breads, pittas and rolls. Check out the bread section at Real Foods for a wide selection of healthy bread.

Children who like pasta and rice will enjoy a salad made from either. Mix wholewheat pasta or brown rice with pepper, sweetcorn or cherry tomatoes, feta and green beans.


Children under the age of five shouldn’t have a low-fat diet as they need fats for body and brain development, so choose whole-milk products. Cheese, yoghurts and fromage frais are excellent sources of calcium and may be found in the fridges at Real Foods.

Fruit and vegetables

Health experts recommend that we include five portions of fruit and vegetables in our diet every day. Real Foods keeps a varied display of fresh, local and seasonal organic fruit and vegetables in store.

Whole fruit may not be that appealing to youngsters, so try cutting fruit into chunks. It’s easy to make vegetables more appealing, too. Cut sticks of carrot and celery and put with a small amount of houmous for dipping.

For more information on nutrition for schoolchildren and teenagers, please follow this link to Nutritionist Resource, they can also help you track down a local nutritionist for more help and support.

What not to pack

There are lots of foods that are marketed as healthy and 'ideal for lunchboxes' that are neither. Here are some to avoid:

  • Breakfast bars: many breakfast bars contain more than 40 per cent sugar and 30 per cent fat!
  • Savoury snacks: cheese strings and similar foods tend to be highly processed and may contain high levels of saturated fat and salt.
  • 'Real fruit' snacks: saying a product is made with 'real fruit' gives it a healthy spin. But take a closer look at the label and you may find that they contain as much as 63% sugar!
  • Fruit juice 'drinks': pure fruit juice contains 100% fruit juice as you would expect. However a 'fruit juice drink' can contain as little as 6% juice.

Always remember to find out why anything that comes back untouched wasn’t eaten.

For more healthy ideas for schoolkids, have a look at our Health Notes here. Try instilling some other healthy habits, or here are some ideas for gluten free kids.