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Lunchbox Ideas to Help You Eat More Fruit & Veg

To mark the launch of their Little Bottles of Apple and Orange juice, the lovely people at Tropicana have asked me to share creative lunchbox ideas to increase fruit and veg intake. According to consumer research conducted by Tropicana, “72% of Brits think it’s harder to be healthy when having lunch on the go” and “For more than one in four (27%), lunch is the least likely meal to include any of our five-a-day.”

Lunchbox Ideas to Help You Eat More Fruit & Veg

My children are little fruit bats and if I leave a basket of fruit on the dining room table, they will keep grazing on fruit. Look at Jumpy devouring a peach!

Lunchbox Ideas to Help You Eat More Fruit & Veg

Wriggly, what can I say about Wriggly? My little monkey eats 3 or 4 bananas every day…

Around here, January has been all about varied, wholesome lunches for my little ones. They love their packed lunches so much they have been asking for indoor picnics at the weekend! I honestly did not change much apart from planning the lunchboxes the way I would plan meals for the week, and it has made a huge difference to what goes in the lunchboxes (for starters, I don’t run out of ‘lunchbox food’ on Wednesday mornings!). Here come lunchbox ideas and tips to get some of those 5-a-day into your lunchboxes!

Before I go into the nitty gritty of packing those fun and healthy lunchboxes, let’s go back to basics and focus a bit on what counts as your 5-a-day.

Why do I need to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day?

Fruit and vegetables are a source of vitamins and minerals. They also contain fibre, which contributes to maintaining a healthy gut and prevent digestion issues. The 5-a-day campaign stem from the World Health Organisation’s advice to eat at least 400g of fruit and veg per day as part of a balanced diet to minimise risks of health problems such as stoke, some cancers and heart disease.

Can I just eat 400g of strawberries to tick the 5-a-day off my list for the day?

You need five portions of a range of fruit of vegetables, not five portions of the same fruit or vegetable.

Do chips count as one of my 5-a-day?

No. Most root vegetables like parsnips, sweet potatoes or swede count as part of your 5-a-day but potatoes count as a starchy food (like bread, rice or pasta) so you cannot add them as one of your 5-a-day when you eat chips, mashed potatoes, a jacket potato or a potato salad. Plantain, cassava and yams are in the same category.

What counts then?

  • Fresh fruit & vegetables
  • Frozen and tinned fruit and veg
  • Dried fruit (a heaped tablespoon – 30g), eaten at mealtimes
  • Fruit and vegetables in ready-made food
  • Fruit and vegetables in cooked form (in pasta, a stew or soup)
  • One of your portions of fruit and veg can also be unsweetened 100% fruit juice or smoothie (150ml)

How do I know what a portion of fruit is?

For adults, a portion of fruit or veg is 80 grams, a small glass of juice or smoothie (150ml) or 30g dried fruit (a heaped tablespoon).

I did some weighing at home, and a portion was:

  • 1 medium apple
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 small avocado
  • 9 small cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • a couple of broccoli spears
  • 1/2 a pepper
  • a 5cm piece of cucumber
  • 1/2 cup defrosted peas
  • 1/2 cup tined sweetcorn

What do 5 portions of fruit and veg look like?

I am a visual person so I took photos of 5 adult portions of fruit and veg to show you exactly what to aim for.

– 1/2 cup (80g) sweetcorn

– 1/2 cup (80g) peas

– 9 small baby tomatoes on the vine

– a small peach

– a small avocado

What do 5 portions of fruit and vegetables look like? 5-a-day

– a bowl of salad (big handful)

– 1/2 cup (80g) blueberries

– 2 small carrots (80g), peeled

– 1/2 corn on the cob

– a small apple

What do 5 portions of fruit and vegetables look like? 5-a-day

– a small banana

– 5cm piece of cucumber

– a heaped tablespoon dried cranberries

– 150ml 100% juice

– 1/2 a pepper

What do 5 portions of fruit and vegetables look like? 5-a-day

How about children?

It really depends how old they are, but here is a rough guide: a portion is what they can fit into the palm of their hand.

For Jumpy (4 years old), a portion of cucumber would be three slices, and a portion of peppers would be 3 strips.

Lunchbox Ideas to Help You Eat More Fruit & Veg

For Beanie (6 years old), a dozen blueberries and 1/2 a kiwi each count as a portion of fruit.

Children can also have one small glass of juice or smoothie as one of their 5-a-day.

My children normally have their small glass of juice in the morning with their porridge, but since we have been using Tropicana Little Bottles, they have had their juice for lunch at times.

I never really know how much Crevette (8 years old) drinks at school as his water bottle is always almost full when he comes home so at least I know he has some fluid intake now he has juice for lunch. I also pay for him to have a cartoon of milk at playtime so I am reassured he keeps hydrated and I will definitely keep giving him his juice for lunch (he prefers milk in the morning anyway). Sorry, I am waffling!

Here are 10 lunchbox ideas to help you eat more fruit & veg when on the go

1- Plan lunchboxes together

Being part of the decision-making and having a choice will encourage your children to eat more fruit and vegetables.

2- Prepare fruit & veg together

From a young age, children can help peel, chop, grate vegetables under supervision, make fruit and veg kebabs or put together a fruit salad.

Children can be confident in the kitchen from a very young age provided they find the cooking process fun and they are trusted. They can chop, grate, stir, peel and even follow a simple recipe.

3- Lead by example

Snack on fruit and veg, show younger members of your family you do enjoy fruit and veg.

4- Have a family challenge

Print a chart for each member of the family and at the end of each day, tick how many portions you have all had. At the end of the week, whoever has eaten the most fruit and veg gets a prize, e.g. mum can have an hour in the bathroom to herself and have a bath, go to the winner’s favourite park, play a board game, go for a bike ride as a family etc.

5- Funny Fruit

Draw faces with a Sharpie pen on bananas or satsumas. Turn fruit and veg into rainbow skewers.

Check these vibrant, quick & easy vegan rainbow snacks. Who doesn't love Fruit & Veg Skewers with Dips #GlutenFreeVeganuary

6- Themed lunchboxes

Can you create a rainbow lunchbox? A vegan one? A green and orange one?

7- Homemade jelly

Make your own jelly using 100% fruit juice and gelatine or agar agar for a yummy treat.

8- Leftovers

Use leftover plain pasta or boiled potatoes to quickly put together a salad by simply throwing in some peas, cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn or anything that takes your fancy.

Lunchbox Ideas to Help You Eat More Fruit & Veg

Soup is also a lovely lunch option. Simply reheat it in the morning and place it in a Thermos container.

Lunchbox Ideas to Help You Eat More Fruit & Veg - leftovers for lunch

9- Yoghurt and Fruit

Sprinkle fresh fruit on natural greek yoghurt and a few pieces of dried fruit for a moreish dessert.

10- Little Bottles

The compact 150ml Tropicana Little Bottles make a perfect addition to any lunchbox, and they are a great way to get one of your 5-a-day.

Lunchbox Ideas to Help You Eat More Fruit & Veg

Have you got any other lunchbox ideas to increase fruit and veg intake?


For more information about the 5-a-day campaign, head over to the Live Well part of the NHS website.


Disclosure: This blog post is sponsored by Tropicana.


  1. Ce
    26/01/2017 / 12:50 pm

    Really great idea to picture the size portion as it’s easier to figure it out rather than weighing it.. Needed some ideas to make packed lunch more colourful now I’ve got it!!

    • Mel
      26/01/2017 / 12:58 pm

      Thanks sweetie, I love being able to visualise things like that. It makes so much more sense than, “a portion is 80g of strawberries.” To me, that could be 2 or 10 strawberries hahahaha!

  2. 26/01/2017 / 3:19 pm

    Your lunches look amazing – this is one of the most colourful posts I have seen today. I also had no idea Tropicana had smaller bottles available – we buy their full size ones all the time but the children love juice on the go x

    • Mel
      30/01/2017 / 12:07 am

      Thanks Donna. I am guilty of using a range of fruit and veg that are not necessarily in season at the mo, but you know what? Sometimes, you just need a bit of colour in your life! Those little bottles are perfect as they’re exactly one portion (the maximum amount of juice we should drink every day). I absolutely love orange juice and I tend to buy those huge bottles of Tropicana (are they 2L?). I then drink 1, 2 or even 3 large glasses a day, which my dentist tells me I have to stop doing as it’s pretty bad for my already weak / sensitive / poor in enamel teeth…

  3. 27/01/2017 / 12:51 pm

    Oooh – this is really helpful. I have never seen the portion sizes set out visually like this! I always find it very bizarre that a smoothie (which could easily contain 5 different helpings of fruit and veg) only counts as one. I know the whizzing up changes the composition, but surely you are still getting the vitamins? I do definitely notice, though, that when I eat more fruit and veg in whatever form) I feel so much better! Eb x

    • Mel
      29/01/2017 / 11:56 pm

      My little man was saying exactly the same thing about smoothies! NHS: “Keep an eye on the amount of fruit juice and smoothies you consume. The current advice is to limit consumption of fruit/vegetable juices and smoothies to a combined total of 150ml a day (one portion). Crushing fruit into juice also releases the sugars contained in the fruit, which can cause damage to teeth. Even unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies are sugary, so limit these to a combined total of 150ml a day.”

  4. pinkiebag
    27/01/2017 / 7:37 pm

    Great simple info on what constitutes on of your 5 a day. I to like to be able to visualize things so this very helpful. I am also going to start using that left over pasta again, Chloe #FreeFromFridays

    • Mel
      30/01/2017 / 12:12 am

      I’m glad you found it useful Chloe. It was fun emptying my fridge and cupboards and seeing what combinations I could come up with for photos, he he!

  5. Home and Horizon
    28/01/2017 / 9:36 am

    I love the idea of the rainbow skewers – my kids would love that. I’m guessing I would need to set some time aside though 🙂 There are some brilliant (and inspirational) ideas here – thanks.

    • Mel
      30/01/2017 / 12:11 am

      Thanks lovely! It doesn’t take much time at all making those little skewers, and once they’re done, the rest of the fruit can be used as a fruit salad for dessert or breakfast 🙂

  6. Renna
    28/01/2017 / 10:42 am

    Love this post. I like how you’ve used visuals to show the actual quantity. It makes it so more easier to understand. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mel
      30/01/2017 / 12:01 am

      My pleasure Renna. It was lots of fun putting together several sets of 5 portions of fruit & veg.

  7. Ana De-Jesus
    28/01/2017 / 4:39 pm

    I definitely don’t get enough fruit and veg a day but that is something that definitely needs to change. The fruit kebabs look good!

    • Mel
      30/01/2017 / 12:02 am

      Every time I see the picture it makes me want to run to the shops to buy more fruit and veg!

  8. ChelseaMamma
    29/01/2017 / 9:07 am

    Sebby eats 3 or 4 banana’s a day (which apparently isn’t good for them) but he doesn’t want to give them up. I am trying to introduce different fruit now

    • Mel
      30/01/2017 / 12:09 am

      My little lady just ‘steals’ them when we’re not looking. Now instead of always having bananas around, we tend to buy them only twice or three times a week so she does eat other fruit eventually!

  9. five little doves
    29/01/2017 / 8:58 pm

    Oh if only chips counted as one of our five a day!! I love this post though, it’s great to picture the portion sizes and also some fab suggestions for other fruits as my kids just stick to the same ones!

    • Mel
      29/01/2017 / 11:59 pm

      My kids are pretty good at varying their fruit but I’m dreadful: I always go for the same ones!

  10. lisalambert38 - Mumdadplus4.co.uk
    30/01/2017 / 9:44 am

    Great post love how you have shown what it looks like, I’m lucky I have fruit and veg bats too so no battles in my house

    • Mel
      30/01/2017 / 1:50 pm

      It’s nice not to force fruit and veg down their throats, isn’t it?

      • lisalambert38 - Mumdadplus4.co.uk
        30/01/2017 / 1:54 pm

        Yep I love that they choose fruit for snack over biscuits and crisps x

        • Mel
          30/01/2017 / 2:06 pm


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