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Is the secret to a better school year inside your kids’ lunchbox?

A healthy school lunch box with sandwich and saladA new school year is just around the corner and parents are already mentally planning what needs to be organised and sorted before their kids – four in my case – begin Term 1.

We wonder about who their teacher will be and hope they will have a good year with their class mates on and away from their studies. Scholastically, I’m sure we’d all like to see school reports that reflect our individual child’s abilities and efforts.

What if I told you the secret to a better school year lies inside your kids’ lunchbox?

A healthy lunchbox guarantees your child will have energy to last the school day, with boosted concentration and strength to perform to their potential.

What does a healthy lunchbox contain?

My easy ‘3-2-1,GO’ healthy lunchbox method is simple. Each lunchbox you pack should include:


Fruits and vegetables for the ability to succeed, such as:

  • fresh fruit
  • frozen berries
  • fruit salad
  • carrot sticks
  • cherry tomatoes
  • tomatoes
  • cucumber
  • mushrooms
  • snow peas
  • fresh peas
  • baby carrots
  • red capsicum
  • celery sticks
  • spinach


Such as grains for energy and concentration, wholegrains including:

  • brown or grainy bread, rolls, pita, mountain bread wraps
  • Vita Weat or Cruskit crackers
  • rice
  • pasta
  • popcorn


Such as protein for muscle growth and strength:

  • roast meats, beans
  • hummus dip
  • boiled egg
  • fish
  • low fat milk
  • cheese
  • yoghurt
  • tzatziki dip

A healthy lunchbox is all about balance of colour, energy and strength. It should roughly include 3 different colour serves of fruit and vegetables to 2 slices of wholegrain bread and 1 serve of protein dairy but you don’t need to get too caught up in the numbers.

Food can be combined as you like and if your kid is hungrier or going through a growth spurt, feel free to give them some extra 3, 2 or 1.

Getting their buy-in

It’s important to engage your kids and explain why they need 3,2,1 with examples of the benefits specific to them.

My son loves football. I have taught him that 3 colours are the secret to his success on the pitch. 2 Energy grains give him the fuel to play, concentrate and learn and 1 strength food ensures he can run fast, jump higher and kick the ball harder and longer.

Another key to success is involving them in your weekly food preparation and empowering your child by giving them healthy choices to make in the menu – apple or banana, leftovers, wrap or crackers, tomato and carrot in your sandwich, or on the side?

READ: Do you have a fussy eater? Check out Kate’s advice on raising an adventurous eater

Examples of 3,2,1, GO lunchboxes

Apple + Celery + Carrot + Vegemite sandwich + Cheese stick

Grapes + Tomato + Spaghetti bolognese

Fruit salad + Tuna, cucumber and lettuce roll

Strawberries + Carrots + Avocado crackers + Tztatziki dip

Banana + Capsicum + Cucumber + Popcorn + Chicken wrap

Mandarin + Snow peas + Cheese and tomato pita + boiled egg

Keys to success

To ensure you’re always organised, make sure you buy in bulk for the week ahead and use your freezer to pre-make and store sandwiches, muffins, scrolls, raisin bread, cookies and frozen berries.

You can never have too many wholegrain crackers, dried fruit or tinned fruit, beans or tuna in the pantry.

Remember, by following my simple 3,2,1 GO formula, you take the everyday indecision out of lunch prep and you can be confident your kids are fuelled to perform at their best.

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