School Lunches


School Lunches

Sourced from the Bread Research Institute of Australia

PO Box 7 North Ryde NSW 2113

Do you have the task of preparing school lunches at your house?

Are you tired of trying to think of tempting and nutritious lunches, or are you a “new chum” in the school lunch stakes?

The following hints and ideas will help you well on the way to becoming an expert at producing delicious lunches that will have your family clamouring for more.

It is never too early to encourage good eating habits, and an appetising, nutritious lunch will supply the energy necessary for active, growing children to maintain their school concentration levels.

Grain and wholemeal breads provide more fibre, but are often not as popular as white bread.  Remember, ALL breads provide good nutrition, and as children grow older they will begin to enjoy the wide variety so readily available.

Lunchtime Hints

  • Include bread, a protein food, salad, a piece of fruit and a “treat”.
  • The “treat” may be frozen yoghurt or a favourite fruit drink in hot weather, a special muffin, biscuit or piece of fruit bread, soup in a thermos in winter.
  • Pack foods you know will appeal to avoid lunch being traded off or dumped in the rubbish bin.  The ultimate rejection occurs when the lunch comes home again, untouched!
  • Rigid containers avoid squashed lunches in the school bag.
  • Many young children seem to prefer sandwiches made with white bread, so introduce them to the wide variety of white breads available such as herb and fruit breads, bagels, muffins, pita pockets and Lebanese breads as well as crusty Continental French and Italian loaves.
  • Why not try to introduce other flavours and textures by using one slice of white and one of either wholemeal or mixed grain breads?
  • Cut sandwiches for young children into quarters, they are easier for little hands to manage.
  • Loose fillings end up on the ground, bind them together with light mayonnaise, sauce, ricotta or cottage cheese.
  • Spread filling right to the edge to prevent the bread from drying out.  Health professionals are advising us to eat less fat so butter only one slice of the bread.
  • Lunch should provide one third of the day’s food, so make healthy sandwiches with nutritious fillings, and remember for proper balance, the filling should only be as thick as one slice of the bread.

During Hot Weather

Pack frozen fruit or a frozen drink to quench the thirst and keep the rest of the lunch cold.

Make sandwiches from frozen bread, they will thaw by lunchtime.

Avoid strong smelling foods, e.g. salami, or canned fish as they tend to smell even more in the heat.  Bananas can also be rather overpowering in summer as they often become overripe in hot school bags.

During Cold Weather

In winter a hot snack is welcome.  Fill a small wide mouthed plastic thermos, pack a spoon or chopstick and include a crusty roll for dunking or pita pocket for filling.

Thick hearty soups, stir-fried vegetables and noodles, some baked beans and several small meatballs, leftover casseroles or spaghetti bolognaise – the variety is endless.

Sandwich Spreads

Sandwich spreads made ahead, save time on busy mornings. Most of these will all keep for up to a week if stored in covered containers.

For a more substantial sandwich, add salad ingredients to the filings.  Here are 5 suggestions, one for every day of the school week.  Quantities of ingredients will depend on the size of the household and the number of lunches being prepared.

  • Peanut Butter Crunch – Combine crunchy peanut butter and finely chopped celery, mix well, and add a little grated carrot.
  • Cheesy Egg Spread – Mix mashed, hard-boiled egg with grated cheese, and a little corn relish.  Moisten if necessary with a little mayonnaise or milk.
  • Bonza Beans – Combine drained baked beans, finely chopped cucumber and crisp cooked bacon.
  • Strawberry Dream – Mix strawberry jam with grated apple, making sure all the apple is well-coated with jam.  Add a slice of cheese, too, if you like.
  • Banana mixed with apple puree’ and a little lemon juice.

Mid-Morning Snacks

Important for growing children to keep their energy levels high.

  • Wholemeal cracker biscuits with cheese
  • Scones, pikelets or home-made bran muffins
  • Finger buns
  • Piece of fruit
  • End crusts from the loaf, spread with peanut butter, meat or fish paste.