Healthy School Lunches

Menus4Moms 52 Week Dinner Menu Pack: Save money. Eat Well.

For parents, providing your kids with healthy, nutritional lunches that they find interesting can be quite a challenge. The “if it is good for you then it must be boring” mentality makes this particularly challenging and you have such favorites as lollies, sweets and fizzy drinks to compete with.

Don’t despair, it can be done and here are 13 alternatives to get you started. Instead of…

  1. High fat savoury biscuits — why not try
    • Plain dry crackers, rice cakes, corn thins or Scottish oatcakes.
    • Raw carrots or celery cut into small pieces are also an excellent choice
  2. Pies, pastry or sausage rolls — why not try
    • Meat or cheese sandwiches or pasta with mince beef sauces (you can buy wheat/gluten free bread and pasta if required).
    • Tuna and sweetcorn.
    • Brown rice (or white) with tuna and roasted vegetables.
    • Falafel (Lebanese delicacy made from chick peas).
  3. Processed meats such as frankfurters, salami or other — why not try
    • Mince burger (home made), lentil burgers or bean burgers.
    • Leftovers from main meals.
    • Quality ham (e.g. Virginia) or cooked bacon, which has been grilled, and the fat/rind removed.
    • Quality sausages that are mostly meat and not too fatty (gluten free sausages are a great alternative if you can find them).
  4. Biscuits (cream filled or chocolate) — why not try
    • Crackers or plain sweet biscuits, oatcakes, rice crackers or rice cakes.
    • You can make these interesting by having different topics like tuna and sweet corn or avocado (too much avocado may be regarded as fattening).
  5. Chocolate / candy bars – why not try
    • Cheese cubes or dried fruit or yogurt with fresh fruit to add to it.
    • Dairy products may make you feel bloated, so sheep’s or goat’s yogurt make a great alternative to cows yogurt and have a different texture and taste. They are less bulky and easier to digest).
  6. Muesli bars and breakfast bars (these are often full of sugar and preservatives) — why not try
    • Fresh fruit such as grapes, melon cubes, oranges or mandarins/satsumas.
    • Nut muesli bars (check the ingredients first though).
  7. 7. Cordial or fizzy drinks — why not try
    • Water is the best option to add to any lunch box.
    • Dairy, soy or rice milk are also good alternatives.
  8. Chocolate spreads — why not try
    • Sesame seed spread (tahini).
    • Humus.
    • Dip such as yogurt, avocado or one that you make yourself, dipping for example, pita bread or cut up vegetables.
  9. Lollies / sweets — why not try
    • Dried fruit, nuts and raisins.
    • Make a nibbles bag with a variety of nuts and dried fruit and add sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  10. Chips / crisps or hot chips — why not try
    • Hot homemade soups with the addition of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
    • Pecan nuts, almonds and flax seed are all great snacks as they are high in essential fatty acids and are best eaten raw (cooking them can destroy the essential fatty acid component).
    • The best way to encourage your children to eat these is to add them to soups as an alternative to croutons and to sprinkle them on yogurt and cereal/muesli in the morning.
  11. Fruit leather straps – why not try
    • If you have your own fruit drier, then you can dry the fruit yourself.
    • Fresh fruit, plain dried fruit e.g. sultanas, dried apricots, mixed nuts, 100% fruit bars.
  12. Donuts — why not try
    • Raisin bread (you can buy wheat free raisin bread if required).
    • Muffins.
    • Flapjacks.
    • Scottish oatcakes with a banana.
    • Tuna and sweetcorn.
  13. Potato crisps, corn chips, or similar snack food – why not try
    • Rice crackers, or rice cakes with a homemade dip or spread, or a bought one as long as it has a low fat content.

About the Author: Helen Thompson is a qualified child care worker (Nursery Nurse) and Brain Gym® consultant who has spent many years working with children aged between 0 – 8 years. Her website at includes recipes, craft activities and more.


Menus4Moms 52 Week Dinner Menu Pack: Save money. Eat Well.

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