Lunchbox ideas

Lunchboxes can be a real challenge – you want to make sure your children eat a variety of healthy foods, but you also need to know the lunch will be eaten! By including foods from each of the four food groups you will help ensure they get all the necessary nutrients. Asking your children what they would like, or involving them in preparing their own lunchboxes, will reduce the likelihood of the food being thrown away or coming home uneaten.

The healthy lunchbox

Let’s think about filling our lunchbox in terms of the four food groups:

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Vegetable sticks – carrot, cucumber, and celery with an optional dip such as cottage cheese, hummus, pesto, Greek yoghurt, tzatziki, or *peanut butter.
  • Small (cherry) or chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh fruit – chopping bigger fruit  beforehand will make it easier to eat – a variety throughout the week maintains interest and ensures a variety of nutrients
  • Fruit pottles
  • Mini salads – coleslaw or a lettuce salad with tomato, grated carrot, and cucumber
  • Small packet or handful of raisins or dried fruit

Grain foods (bread, rice, pasta, breakfast cereals)

  • Sandwiches – see below for filling and presentation ideas
  • Cereal bars
  • Plain biscuits
  • Plain popcorn
  • Rice crackers
  • Potato or pasta salad
  • Potato cakes
  • Leftover pasta and rice dishes

Milk and milk products (milk, cheese, yoghurt)

  • Pottle of yoghurt or yoghurt squeezables
  • Plain or flavoured milk
  • Cubes or slices of cheese
  • Cottage cheese – add to sandwiches or use as a dip for vegetable sticks

Legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry, and/or red meat with the fat removed

  • Meat or chicken sandwiches
  • Egg or tuna sandwiches
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Hummus – Add some to sandwiches or put a couple of tablespoons in a container to go alongside vegetable sticks
  • *Peanut butter – add to sandwiches or use as a dip for vegetable sticks
  • *A small handful of nuts and seeds

*Note: It may be wise to check your school’s policy on nuts as some schools can be ‘peanut free’

Tips on sandwiches

Try cutting sandwiches into shapes such as fingers or squares, and use various types of bread, rolls, wraps, or pita pockets for sandwiches to add variety to lunches. Use wholemeal or wholegrain varieties where possible.
Sandwiches don’t have to be flash – they can be filled simply with a couple of slices of cheese, some vegemite or marmite, jam, or *peanut butter. However, if you have other foods to hand, include some lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber, avocado, grated carrot, thinly sliced capsicum, tinned corn kernels, or bean sprouts to make the sandwich more nutritious.

  • Tuna sandwich
    Mix canned tuna with low-fat mayonnaise along with a pinch of pepper and a splash of lemon juice and spread onto bread. Refrigerate any leftover tuna mix for the following day.
  • Salad sandwich
    Spread either some hummus or relish onto the bread. Top with grated cheese and available salad ingredients.
  • Egg sandwich
    Mash two hard-boiled eggs with low-fat mayonnaise and chopped parsley.
  • Leftovers sandwich
    Use leftover lamb, beef, fish, chicken, or corned beef along with some relish or sauce for an economical and tasty sandwich


Water and milk are the best drinks for children. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of juice to their water bottle for a little extra flavour if needed. Read more about fluids on our fact page.

Keeping food safe

  • Freeze a small container of water to put in alongside lunch as this will keep food cold and provide a cold lunchtime drink.
  • Clean containers thoroughly after use with hot water and detergent.
  • Throw out leftover food not eaten during the day.

Last modified: August 1, 2022