Packed lunch advice

School meals provide children with a healthy, nutritious, good quality lunch.

Unfortunately many packed lunches brought in from home don't offer the same benefits.

Half of UK schoolchildren are eating packed lunches that don't meet the nutritional standards set for school meals in England.

The right kinds of food in your child's packed lunch box can help them concentrate and learn.

A good packed lunch will ideally include a selection of foods that will keep their energy levels up throughout the afternoon.

For example include:

  • a healthy sandwich made with brown bread and a low fat, protein-based filling like ham, chicken, or tuna
  • at least one portion of fruit, for example a small banana, bunch of grapes or an apple
  • vegetable snacks such as carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, or cherry tomatoes
  • a low-fat fruit yoghurt to finish to provide protein and calcium
  • a bottle of water to keep your child hydrated and alert

You should avoid:

  • snacks such as crisps. Instead include seeds, vegetables, and fruit
  • confectionery such as chocolate bars, chocolate coated biscuits and sweets.
  • cakes and biscuits are allowed but encourage your child to eat these only as part of a balanced meal
  • meat products such as sausage rolls, pies, and sausages/chipolatas should only be included occasionally

Try making these four easy changes:

  • swap white bread sandwiches to wholemeal bread
  • swap crisps for carrot or cucumber sticks
  • swap chocolate or biscuits for fresh fruit
  • swap fizzy drinks for water or fruit juice