The ingredients that make up the ultimate healthy lunchbox, according to a nutritionist

A mix of healthy fats, protein, and slow-release carbs will help your child perform at their best.
A mix of healthy fats, protein, and slow-release carbs will help your child perform at their best. Photo credit: Getty.

The start of the new school year is on the horizon. 

While parents may be eagerly awaiting the moment their little darlings head back to school, it comes with a pesky job they're probably not anticipating - preparing daily lunchboxes. 

If you're struggling to find inspiration beyond packing a Vegemite sandwich and packet of chips, it would be easy to fall into the trap of thinking every other parent is putting in more effort. 

Every day thousands of parents show off their children's extravagant and time-consuming lunchbox creations online, especially in Facebook groups like 'Lunchbox Mums', which is full of images of craftily cut sandwiches, homemade muesli bars and nutritious fruit and vegetable cups. 

Luckily it doesn't have to be quite so complicated. 

According to a UK nutritionist, a mix  of carbohydrates, protein, fruit and healthy fats are the "perfect" mix for a lunchbox  

"The nutritional content of a lunchbox is crucial," says The Sun's nutritionist Amanda Ursell. "Get the balance right and you will not just help your kids concentrate better in class, but also help their growth rate, bone strength, energy levels and behaviour."

According to Ursell, a child's lunchbox should contain: 

Slow-release carbs: These can include pasta, rice, potatoes or wholegrain or sourdough bread, perfect for stabilising blood sugar and stopping mood swings throughout the day. 

Protein: Essential for muscle growth and brain function, easy to include protein options like eggs, fish, yoghurt, cheese and tofu will help keep your child full until the end of the school day. 

Healthy fats: Nourishing and another way to help kids stay full for longer, items like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and avocado are proven to improve concentration and boost your mood, meaning your child will be on good form at school.

Two servings of fruit or vegetables: "We all know we ought to have five portions of fruit or vegetables every day, but it can be difficult to get children interested in eating their greens," writes Ursell. 

Including easy-to-eat portions of fruit salad or bite-sized vegetables like carrot and capsicum crudites will help encourage an empty lunchbox.