The beginning of a school year often comes with a barrage of recommendations for healthy lunch box fillers.

While super-organised parents may pour over health blogs, devising the perfect school menu for their little ones, for most of us tasked with getting the lunch box balance right it comes down to what kids will eat and what's quick and easy.

Packaged snacks and white bread sandwiches are staples for a lot of school lunches, even though many parents are aware they're not the healthiest option.

The World Health Organisation has also shunned what many would consider a classic school lunch: the ham sandwich, suggesting no processed meat should be served to children.

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A study conducted in Melbourne several years ago found, on average, school lunch boxes contained three packaged snacks in the form of bars, "bites" or snacks with dips, suggesting children are consuming empty calories with little nutritional value.

So what can you pack into your kid's lunch box that won't take time to prepare but will offer them the right energy for the school day?

1. Wholegrain sandwich or wrap

Always opt for wholegrain bread, or a wrap if you're concerned about soggy sandwiches. Choose protein rich fillings such as cheese, lean meat or egg. And add a frozen chiller pack or cold water bottle to keep it fresh.

2. Fresh fruit and vegetables

Fresh fruit is always better than dried fruit sticks or juice which contain much more sugar. Fresh produce also has more fibre.

3. High protein snacks

Protein is often missed in the school lunch box, often in favour of more fruit or snacks. Try dairy products such as cheese sticks and yoghurt to give kids calcium and nutrients such as magnesium and phosphorous.

4. Ditch the chips

Kids need energy, but a lot of muesli bars and processed snacks don't provide the long lasting kind essential to see them through the school day.

Instead of chip packets or sugar-filled muesli bars and biscuits, try popcorn, wholegrain snack bars or crackers with toppings.

5. Water only

Sports drinks, fruit juice and cordials are high in sugar. Water should be the only choice for a healthy school drink.

- nzherald.co.nz