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Lunch Boxes

Packed lunches and picnics make it easier to make healthier choices. It puts you in charge of the foods and drinks you and your family have. They help reduce the temptation to snack on high sugar and/or high fat food and drink. 

The key to a healthy packed lunch is to plan ahead and keep it varied. Try and include a mixture of the foods below.

 

  •  Carbohydrates keeps us feeling full for longer. Try using;

    • Sliced bread, rolls, ciabatta, pitta bread, bagels, baguette, wraps, chapattis or crackers
    • Wholemeal or granary breads
    • Wholemeal pasta, brown/mixed rice, couscous or potato as a salad base
    • A mixture to keep it interesting. 

  • Protein helps bodies grow, keep healthy and repair themselves. Try using;

    • Eggs – as a filling or hard boiled
    • Fish - such as tuna or salmon
    • Chicken – as a filling or as drumsticks
    • Lean meats
    • Beans and pulses - such as hummus or kidney beans.
  • Aim to include 2 items of fruit and vegetables in each lunchbox. Try using;

    • Fresh fruit cut into bite sized, easy to eat pieces. Such as melon, apple or orange segments.
    • Tinned fruit in juice. Put it into a small pot, but avoid fruit in syrup.
    • Raw vegetables chopped and ready to eat. Such as cucumber, cherry tomatoes, pepper, carrots or celery.

  • Dairy products are a good source of energy and protein. They contain lots of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, that children need to build healthy bones and teeth. Try including;
    • Mini cheese portion
    • Grated cheese
    • Low fat cheese spread
    • Low fat custard or rice pudding
    • Low fat yogurt or fromage frais.

    There are lots of different options for children who have allergies or intolerance to dairy foods. 

  • Try and change what your child takes in their lunch box over the week. This way they won't get bored and will get a mixture of different healthy foods. Sometimes young children are creatures of habit and want the same each day, just try and use a good variety of healthier food types. When they tell you they are bored, or you notice they are not eating it all, try out some new ideas. 

    Children often like a colourful lunch box or bag. This doesn’t have to be expensive - a self decorated plastic container can do the job. You might invest in a box with compartments that make it easier to separate out different foods and snacks.

    Schools will usually have rules about what can and cannot be taken in for lunch and snacks, so make sure you check this. Don’t forget to choose the right size portion for your child's size, age and activity level. See our page on Eating Habits and Portion Sizes to find out more. 

  • On hot days keep lunches in the fridge for as long as possible. You can buy ‘ice packs’ to help keep them cool. You could freeze a drink, to defrost over the morning, to help keep the lunch box cool at school.

  • All children in Year Reception, 1 and 2 will receive free school meals. 

    From Year 3, children whose parents or carers get one or more of the following may also be able claim free school meals;

    • Universal Credit (provided the family has an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400)
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
    • Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
    • The guarantee element of Pension Credit
    • Child Tax Credit (with no Working Tax Credit) and an annual income of no more than £16,190
    • Working Tax Credit run on – paid for four weeks after a claimant stops qualifying for Working Tax Credit

    To apply for free school meals you will need to fill out a form, this will be available at your child's school. 

    For support you can contact the Free School Meals Team on 01603 222518 or by email admissions@norfolk.gov.uk.

Who Can Help?

If you are concerned about your child’s weight or eating habits and feel you need support then you can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum. CLICK HERE

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