The dreaded task of planning and packing lunch boxes is well and truly upon us. While the supermarket shelves are packed with unlimited pre-packaged items that require zero preparation or second thought, these treats are more often than not laden with sugars, salts and unhealthy fats. And that’s the last thing young minds need in order to stay focused, energised and nourished throughout the day.

Finding the balance between nutrition and food your kids will actually enjoy can be quite tricky. So we’ve asked the better-for-you snack experts at Vege Chips for their top tips and tricks to supercharge the kids’ lunch boxes. They’ve put together eight simple swaps that will make the 200-odd lunches you prepare for each child every single year (yes, we also gasped at this statistic) a little bit better, knowing your little ones are fuelling their brains and bodies, rather than filling up on processed foods.

8 simple swaps for a healthier lunch box

A sandwich, but make it art

Looking for a simple and quick way to reinvent the humble sandwich? Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes that will engage and delight kids of all ages. While you’re at it, why not swap white bread for the nutritionally richer wholemeal or multigrain bread. Another solution is to cut out bread all together in exchange for a wholemeal wrap, which has half the amount of kilojoules compared to two slices of white bread.

Put the Vege into Chips

Would it be a school lunch without a delicious snack? It’s time to ditch the high-fat, heavily processed potato chips in favour of a healthier alternative. Enter: Vege Chips. The iconic Australian company offers better-for-you, great tasting snacks. Plus, they’re gluten-free. Why not pair a pack of Vege Chips with a delicious dip to create a lite but delicious snack.

Bite-sized fun

Ease and convenience are at the top of the lunch box wishlist, especially when it comes to making sure your kids get their daily serve of fruit. Fruit cups might seem like the easiest option, but we recommend swapping out this sugary sweet for bite-sized fruit in their natural state. Think: grapes, strawberries, lychees and mixed berries. The small sizes and bright colours are sure to be a hit!

Swap the juice for flavoured water

While a lunchbox staple for decades, the classic popper brings a bunch of unwanted sugar into the classroom, which can affect learning. Let your little one pick out a new water bottle to take to school, and perhaps add a slice of orange or lemon to flavour the water, creating an alternative for sugary fruit juices.

Use normal butter

We’ve long been told that butter is the enemy of lunch spreads and to use alternatives such as margarine or other dairy-free options. We come bearing good news! The latest research suggests it’s time to return to the old faithful and butter up that bread! The healthier fat incorporates a good source of dairy and calcium, reducing risk of obesity, diabetes and heart problems. It’s still high in calories, so should be enjoyed in moderation.

Swap lunch meats for home cooked goodness

Food waste is an increasing problem and is growing at an alarming rate. Did you know that in Australia alone, over five million tonnes of food ends up in landfill every year? That’s enough to fill 9,000 Olympic swimming pools, or it is roughly 140kg per person, or 345kg per household. To help combat this issue, why not swap lunch meat for good old home-cooked leftovers? Think roast beef, chicken and lamb on those wholemeal wraps, instead of store-bought ham and devon. Using home-cooked meats ensures you know exactly what is going into your kids’ bodies and eliminating processed meats. Plus, reducing your food waste is sure to add that feel-good factor.

Swap Flavoured yoghurt for greek yogurt

Small flavoured yoghurt tubs are a great source of calcium, but are often loaded with hidden sugars and artificial flavours. Greek yogurt is an easy swap, providing a natural option. Top it with honey for sweetness, nuts for crunch and fibre, and a little fruit for flavour. Yum!

Swap Cupcakes for protein balls

Chocolate treats… the star of any school lunch box and often the first thing kids will reach for. Cupcakes are great for special occasions like birthdays, but are full of unwanted nasties (cue the high sugars and unsaturated fats). If you’re looking for a little treat that offers the same delicious taste and flavour, but with some hidden goodness, why not try making your own protein balls? They’re super easy and it’s always fun to get the kids involved with rolling them… it’s a win-win!

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