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  • Writer's pictureKim Lawler

Getting enough protein in your kids lunch box!

You will often hear talk about ensuring kids are eating enough protein. It is reassuring that most kids are able to meet their protein needs across the day, by adding up the little bits of protein found in a lot of different foods.

However getting a decent protein source into a kids lunch box can be challenging, when you consider picking eaters, school restrictions and needing to pack something that will stay okay throughout the school day.

Ultimately we want to have a little bit of protein during as many eating experiences in the day as possible. This helps to stabilise mood and ensure long lasting energy, amongst other things.

My thoughts on this topic are:

  1. Do your best to optimise the school lunch box, but in reality sometimes worrying less about the lunch box and instead focusing on having enough protein before and after school is easier. This means at breakfast and afternoon tea, simply because there can be more options here E.g. cooking eggs and using nuts and nut butters. We often have eggs of some sort with breakfast or will have nuts or nut butters added to yoghurt or porridge. For afternoon tea, I will often use bliss balls containing nuts, quick whole food bars containing nuts, nut butters as a topping on something (e.g cracker or banana) or nuts in a baked good e.g banana bread or muffin. Alternatively we might have a tasting plate that includes some cold meats such as nitrate free ham or turkey (these are much nicer straight from the fridge).

  2. Consider some of the following ideas for adding protein: - Snacks based on legumes & lentils (e.g lentil chips, roasted chickpeas. Note: check ingredient lists) - Cheese - Nitrate free cold meats such as ham/turkey, tuna/salmon or freshly cooked chicken/meat on sandwiches or eaten alone as part of a bento box - Seeds based snacks (I like Munch Me Pumpkin Seed Snacks by Think Foods) - Boiled eggs - Tuna or salmon cakes - Adding chia seeds, linseeds or flax meal to home baking (e.g muffins, bliss balls) - Meat balls - Hummus - Tahini added to crackers or as an ingredient e.g. in bliss balls

Remember it is great to regularly exposure your kids to new/different/not preferred foods. However don't over do this at school. School can be a big experience for little people and the comfort for familiar foods in a lunch box from home can be wildly reassuring. My advice would be to only have 1-2 things a day which are new/different/not preferred foods, along side a decent range of safe foods. If your little one is having a tough time at school, you may prefer to limit this more. Instead, I love sending little notes in the lunch boxes at these times!

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