For parents of school-aged children, the prospect of packing a healthy lunch kids will actually eat can be challenging. There's nothing more discouraging (or worrying) than having a lunch box come home still filled with the nutritious meal and snacks you packed. The alternative — packing a load of junk food — isn't comforting either.

After all, childhood is when children form lifelong habits, so filling their lunch with sweets and tons of processed food is creating habits that could last for life.

So, what's a concerned parent to do? For starters, relax! You're here, reading this, taking strides to make healthier choices for your kids. Next, read on. Here are some easy tips to makeover the lunch box madness so you don't have to live in a perpetual pendulum swing between frustration and worry.

1. Go Whole Grain

The simple act of swapping out white bread and sliding in a couple slices of whole grain can increase the intake of fibre, B vitamins, zinc, iron, manganese and magnesium.

Word to the wise: ensure the first ingredient on the list is 'whole wheat'. Not enriched white flour or unbleached wheat flour.

2. Pick & Eat Lunches

Sandwiches aren't the only lunch option. You can also give your children whole grain crackers, lean cuts of deli meat, and low-fat cheeses so they can stack and snack on their own towering (and fun!) lunch time meal.

3. Rotate Fruit & Veg

Even the most laidback eaters will get tired of seeing the same apple or carrot slices in their lunches. Make sure to rotate the fruits and vegetables you put in school lunches. Not only will this keep lunches interesting, but it will encourage your child to develop a sense of adventure when it comes to trying new things. They may not like every new food choice, but on the flipside, that vitamin rich dragon fruit you tried out could be a huge hit!

4. Sushi

A reusable bento box and an icepack can go a long way to take the dread out of making school lunches — and, when you make or buy sushi with brown rice, you can feel great about the nutrient dense food your children will be enjoying.

The avocado that regularly features in sushi is an excellent healthy fat that will keep your children fuller — and their brains more focused for optimal learning.

Tuna and salmon are a good source of Omega-3 DHA, which has been shown to support brain health and development in children. If you child is not a fan of tuna or salmon, consider using a supplement like Nature’s Way Kids Smart DHA 300mg. These orange flavoured burstlets can be squeezed into drinks or cereal for the little ones or, in older children, chewed and swallowed.

5. Soup – Think Thermos

School lunches don’t have to be cold. Buy a quality thermos and pack your child their favourite home-made or low salt soup or whole grain pasta dish. You could even use a thermos to pack a hearty and healthy oatmeal or quinoa stir-fry.

Treats can be a small part of your child’s balanced diet, but if their lunch box is comprised mainly of pre-packaged processed foods that are almost inevitably high in sugar, sodium (salt) and saturated fat, it’s time to think outside the box. Use these tips to help you create consistently healthy and delicious school lunches your kids will love, and you’ll feel great about packing.