Healthy Lunchboxes – Which Breads are the Best?

Nutrition // Jenelle Croatto // 25 January 2016

Gone are the days of simply selecting between white or brown bread. Today our supermarket and bakery shelves are lined with everything from high fibre to calcium enriched! With so much choice is it really any wonder we’re confused about which bread is best? To help cut through the confusion here is the low-down on bread.

Which Breads are Best?


Made from highly processed grains that have been stripped of the outer fibre and nutrient rich layers, white bread is your least nutritious choice. These breads are rapidly digested which lead to big spikes in blood glucose levels – making it difficult to better manage your weight and satiety levels. If you must eat white bread, a step up is one with added fibre or is of a low GI variety.


Known by many as ‘brown bread’, wholemeal bread is typically made using ground wholegrains. This bread packs a nutritional punch, however it is usually high GI. Be careful with some wholemeal options as they are often made using a combination of white and wholemeal flour. Look for wholemeal breads made with 100% wheat, rye or spelt.


Made using wholemeal flour and intact grains these breads are your best choice. Wholegrains have a superb nutritional profile as they are high in fibre and contain a whole bunch of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are particularly rich in B group vitamins (necessary for energy production) and are slowly digested to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Wholegrains also play an important role in reducing our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.

Most nutritious are those dark and dense breads with plenty of ‘bits and pieces’. Look for breads with words like ‘stoneground’ and ‘wholegrain’ and that contain a lovely mixture of grains.


Multigrain bread is often white bread made fancy with added seeds and grains. As with white and wholemeal, these breads are quickly digested so you’re better off selecting a low GI wholegrain option.


Traditional sourdough is made using a slow fermentation process that creates a delicious chewy texture and is low GI. Your best sourdough picks are those made with both wholegrains and wholemeal flour.

Gluten Free

While necessary for those with wheat or gluten intolerance gluten free breads are mostly high GI and made using mostly rice, tapioca and potato flour. For a nutritional boost look around for breads that also contain seeds and flour made from chickpea, lupin, almond and quinoa.

Functional Breads

Take a walk down the bread aisle and you’ll see a range of breads with added ingredients such as omega-3, prebiotics, fibre and those with added calcium and iron. This is great news for fussy kids (and adults) who wont venture beyond white bread.

The Verdict?

The clear winners are wholegrain and sourdough breads with plenty of visible grains.

Bread FactDid you know that with the exception of pastries and some sweet breads there is no added sugar in Australia breads?

Healthy School Lunchbox Fillers

Variety is the spice of life – especially when it comes to school lunch boxes! Here are three menus to keep your little ones happy, and not have that soggy sandwich come home at the end of the day.

Menu 1

  • Wholegrain wrap with hummus, leg ham, grated carrot + sliced cucumber
  • Bag of air-popped corn
  • Banana
  • Yoghurt tub

Menu 2

  • Sourdough rye sandwich with avocado, shredded BBQ chicken (skin removed) and salad
  • Mini cheese wheel + dried fruit
  • Capsicum and carrot veggies sticks
  • Wholemeal pikelets with peanut butter

Menu 3

  • Wholegrain bread roll with shaved turkey, sliced cheese and tomato – pat dry and place in between the turkey and cheese.
  • Long-life flavoured milk
  • Apple sliced into wedges (hold together with a rubber band)
  • Wholegrain snack bar with little added sugar

It’s best to send the kids off to school with a water bottle. Fruit juices, cordials and soft drinks are high in sugar and not recommended as a daily drink option.


If your kids don’t like veggies in a wrap or sandwich, chop up some veggies sticks for them to eat on the side.





    As with Ginger Stir Fry recipe (hardly can wait to try that one) I cant help but think is a GREAT SHAME that pages don’t have a RECIPE PRINT OPTION – it would be a great help! Yes, you can hit your print option in your program but you end up with many more pages than you want or need. Having the capacity to print just the recipe would be great!


    1. Jenny Reply

      You can scroll through the pages in the “print” menu and select the one you want to print . I just did this and printed the recipe.

  2. Nadine Reply

    Good article but whoever wrote this obviously does not have school kids. The nut minimisation policy in many primary schools do not encourage peanut butter going to school.

    1. Leila Nemra Reply

      Hi Nadine – In this case, we would recommend another protein based ‘spread’ to keep hunger at bay. Reduced fat creamed cheese would be a top option in this example.

      All the best,
      12WBT Support Crew

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