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Top tips for a lovely lunch

IN these tougher economic times, we're all a little more careful with our cash and splashing out on pricey lunchtime meals is certainly not an option for most.

More and more, people are bringing lunch to work with them and the good news is that homemade lunches are generally far healthier than shop-bought options.

Kids' lunch boxes can also be challenging for mums keen to balance taste, health and variety on a daily basis.

Here Flora nutritionist, Dr Patricia Heavey, shares her top tips for keeping lunch boxes nutritionally balanced for you and the kids.

The ideal lunch box will include the following elements:

A portion of starchy food: Add some variety to your diet by trying something different each day such as a wholegrain roll, wraps, pitta pockets, pasta or rice. Choose a low-fat spread, such as Flora, for sandwiches etc, as this is an easy way to reduce your saturated 'bad' fat intake.

A protein-rich food: This could be lean meat, such as chicken or fish, eggs or non-dairy sources such as beans or hummus.

Plenty of fruit and vegetables: Ideal lunch box choices include apples, satsumas, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, a small box of fruit salad or a small box of raisins.

A dairy food: Cheese, yoghurt and milk are all good sources of calcium but it's best to opt for low-fat varieties. Vegetarians could opt for the soya variety.

A drink: Water is the best choice but is not always a big hit with kids, so you could include a small fruit juice, milk or yoghurt drink.