Eating at school

Tips and ideas to help make your child's meal times at school a success.

Eating at school will be a different experience for your child compared with eating at home or at preschool. There are no places to keep food hot or cold. Children often sit on the grass or on benches and balance their food on their knees. They will also need to be able to open everything their food is wrapped in and they won’t want to spend so much time eating that they miss out on playing.

Tips to help your child

  • Encourage your child to practise eating from the lunch box at home.
  • Pack food that is easy to open, easy to eat and not messy.
  • If your child needs utensils like chopsticks or cutlery make sure these are packed with their lunch.
  • Write your child’s name on their lunch box, water bottle and any other containers.
  • Include a frozen drink bottle to keep food cold. Wrap it in a tea towel in case it leaks.
  • Use insulated lunch boxes or cooler bags.
  • Avoid using plastic wrap because children find it hard to pull apart. Paper bags are better for the environment too. Pack tissues or paper around fruit so it won’t bruise.
  • Remind your child to wash their hands before eating and to use the toilet at recess and lunch.
  • Pack a water bottle for your child each day and remind them that they can also get water from the taps or bubblers throughout the day.
  • If your child can order food from their school canteen, help them to identify healthy food and drink choices.

Smart tip

Stick a reminder for your child to wash their hands after going to the toilet and before eating and stick it to the inside of their lunchbox lid. For younger children, you could draw or use printed illustrations of this reminder.

Recess and lunch ideas

  • Cut fruit into pieces and put them in a small container. Squeeze some lemon juice on apples or pears to stop them from going brown.
  • Cut up vegetables such as carrots, celery and cucumber and put them in a resealable plastic bag. Put dips or yoghurt in a separate container.
  • Make wholemeal muffins and freeze them.
  • Try different breads, such as rolls, pita, wholegrain or tortilla wraps.
  • If using tomato in a sandwich, slice it thinly and place the slices between other fillings to stop the sandwich from going soggy.
  • Cook a little extra dinner and save some for lunch the next day. You could make quiche, homemade pizza slices, salmon patties, roast vegetables, noodle salads or sausages. A freezer brick or frozen drink can help keep this food fresh.
Get more school lunch and snack ideas at Healthy Kids Association.

Healthy food choices

Guided by the Healthy School Canteens Strategy, we are increasing the availability of healthy food and drink options in canteens at NSW public schools to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Visit Nutrition at School to learn more.

Next up ➜

Learn how schools manage allergies and asthma and how sharing information is an easy way to support your child's health and safety.

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