The guidelines, published today by School Food Trust, will give extra support to parents and childcare providers, who, up to now, haven't had a strict set of instructions to follow.

School Food Trust is a national charity, and also advisor to the Government on school meals and children's Food. They will provide information about the foods that they should be giving young children, with guidelines on portion sizes, advice on fussy eating, tips on how to involve children in cooking, and also a selection of menus and recipes.

This follows a report published in 2010, which found that more than a fifth of children were either overweight, or even obese, when they started school. The findings suggested that much clearer guidance was needed for both parents and childcare providers - particularly since some were found to be giving young children food which was unsuitable for those their age and lacking in essential nutrients.

The information now available gives set menus with precise portion sizes, and a selection of healthy and nutritious meals. Recipes are also provided to help make it easier to prepare the meals.

Since it is only a few weeks into the new school term, here are some of their low-cost lunch-box ideas to make sure your child has a healthy lunch.

Main:
Tuna mayonnaise sandwich, cucumber chunks.
Rice salad with turkey, red pepper strips.
Cheddar and coleslaw in a wholemeal pitta, carrot sticks.
Pasta salad with chicken and vegetables, 3 cherry tomatoes/one large tomato.
Smoked mackerel sandwich, cucumber chunks.

Dessert:
Carrot and apricot cake, and a handful of grapes
Fruit fromage frais, 1 apple
Banana cake, slice of fresh pineapple
Chocolate bran flake slice, 1 banana
Seeded flapjack, 1 apple

Drinks:
Water
Flavoured milk drink

For detailed recipes, and more lunchbox ideas, visit www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk.

Georgia Smith