Expert Opinion

How important is protein in a lunchbox?

Protein is an extremely important component of a healthy, balanced diet. It provides our bodies with what they need to grow muscles, support neurotransmitter production, detoxification pathways and so much more. Eating the required amount of protein per day will also help to stabilise blood sugar levels and reduce insulin spikes. Every meal, including snacks, should provide all three necessary macronutrients – protein, complex carbohydrates, and fat.

What are some good sources of protein?

Good sources of protein include eggs, lean meats (meaning cuts of meat with minimal fat), chicken, pork, legumes (like lentils and chickpeas), nuts and seeds, fish (like tuna and salmon), gelatin and dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese.

Are there any lunchbox-friendly products you’d be surprised to know contain protein?

Surprisingly, this gummy recipe isn’t just a delicious treat but a good source of protein as well. If each batch makes 24 gummies, then 3 gummies will give approximately 9 grams of protein, making it an excellent high protein snack for kids. Some other foods that are good sources of protein that might surprise you are Vaalia Strawberry Squeeze Yoghurts, which have 6 grams of protein per serve, cheddar cheese, which has 6 grams of protein per 25 grams and hummus, which has around 2 grams per 20 gram serving size.

Another surprisingly good source of protein is Nature One Dairy’s Vanilla Custard using A2 Milk, which has 6.4 grams of protein per 200mL serving. You can include this in the school lunchbox topped with some fresh berries and granola for a healthier treat.

How do you know if you’re packing enough protein into your child’s lunchbox?A school aged child will need anywhere between 20 – 40 grams of protein, depending on their weight, age and gender. A great resource to see just how much protein your child needs is the Eat For Health website. Using this website, you can easily work out how much protein your own child will need and then divide that over the meals and snacks for the day. For example, if you have an 8-year-old who weighs around 25kg, they will need around 23 grams of protein per day. This could look like:

Breakfast – 1 egg on toast = approx. 9 grams protein
Snacknut free chocolate bliss ball + veggie sticks = approx. 4 grams protein
Lunch – 1 roll of tuna sushi = 7 grams protein
Snack – 1 apple = 0.5 grams protein
Dinner – 20 grams cooked chicken breast with veggie sticks = approx. 5 grams protein
So you can see how easy it is to get enough protein into your child’s daily diet.

About the author

Sarah Bell is a Nutritionist and healthy recipe developer. Being a mother of 3, Sarah is passionate about pediatric nutrition and turning fussy eaters into well-rounded eaters. She loves creating family-friendly recipes that are easy to make and taste delicious.
As a Nutritionist, Sarah knows the importance of gut health to our overall health and wellbeing. Because of this, she loves creating recipes using wholefood ingredients that promote good gut health and that are free from refined sugars.