Are you packing a healthy lunch?

Are you packing a healthy lunch?

With the new school year upon us the Public Health Agency (PHA) is on hand with some top tips for packing a healthy lunch.

The PHA’s leaflet ‘Are you packing a healthy lunch’ has lots of advice and lunch ideas, and you can find it at

The main message is to steer clear of fizzy drinks and snacks high in added fat, salt and sugars, and to remember that children only need kid-sized portions.

Judith Hanvey, Regional Food in Schools Coordinator, appointed jointly by the PHA and the Department of Education, said: “There are many foods available in our supermarkets that are marketed for lunchboxes, however often they are high in fat, salt and sugars. It can be confusing, but picking the healthier option isn’t just good for nourishment, it can also help with pupils’ concentration and behaviour in the classroom.

“Involve your kids in making up their lunchboxes too, as encouraging children and talking to them about choosing healthier foods is an important step in establishing good eating habits that will benefit them throughout their lives, helping them to stay at a healthy weight.”

It can be difficult to think up different healthy lunch and snack ideas to make sure there are a variety of options for the children’s packed lunch, so here are the PHA’s top 10 ideas:

  1. Bagel with tuna, sweetcorn and low fat mayo. Fresh fruit chopped into plain yogurt. Water.
  2. Ham and vegetable pasta. Chopped grapes. Plain yogurt. Small fruit smoothie.
  3. Roast beef, lettuce and tomato roll. Fruit salad. Plain yogurt. Water.
  4. Ham salad in pitta bread. Banana. plain yogurt. Water.
  5. Soda bread pizza with tomato and cheese. Vegetable sticks with hummus. Small fruit smoothie.
  6. Egg and onion sandwich. Carrot sticks. Fruit pot. Milk.
  7. Rice salad with salmon and vegetables. Handful of raisins. Milk.
  8. Crackers and cheese. Slice of plain cake. Chopped cherry tomatoes. Unsweetened small fruit juice.
  9. Chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion and low fat mayo wrap. Chopped grapes. Pot of custard. Water.
  10. Vegetable soup and wheaten bread. Apple. Milk.

Fruit juice and smoothies should be limited to a total of 150ml a day.

Judith continued: “Young children have a small capacity for food but also have high energy and nutritional requirements. Three meals a day are often not enough to provide all the nutrients they require, so healthy snacks between meals are very important. Including fruit and vegetables as snacks for morning break will also help them get their five a day.

“Bread snacks can help meet these extra energy needs so a small roll, pitta bread or bread sticks can be a good inclusion in the lunchbox. Thinly spread the bread with a little margarine, low-fat spread or butter and avoid using sugary spreads like jam, honey and chocolate spread which can be harmful to teeth.”

For more information see the leaflet ‘Are you packing a healthy lunch?’ available at