Making a packed lunch for children every day can be quite a test of parents’ ingenuity. It’s all too easy to fall into a boring routine or a convenience routine of refined foods. Variety, healthy food options and taste are the key – it doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Here’s some super-easy lunchbox ideas.
Below are some excellent quick and easy tips to make a child’s lunchbox a bit more interesting – and healthier!
First up, you need to understand what constitutes an ‘ideal’ lunch box.
A healthy lunch box needs to give children enough energy to fuel their body and brain for the 5 or 6 hours that they are at school. To provide everything a child needs for energy and growth, check you have something from each of these groups:
- Energy Food – bread, crackers, pasta
- Sustaining Food – cheese, milk, yoghurt, lean meat, nuts
- Fruit & Vegetables
- A treat food – opt for healthier options
PLUS, don’t forget the water. Kids need to stay hydrated throughout the day!
So here are some of my favourite (but easy) school lunch box ideas:
Cut It Out
If it seems like that sandwich you packed in the morning makes a soggy return uneaten in the afternoon, make it more exciting! Turn the ordinary lunch-box staple into a menagerie of animals with these cute sandwich cutters.
Protein packed Frittata
Just like you, kids can get tired of eating sandwiches day in and day out. Why not try out this protein packed frittata. The best thing is that you can basically use whatever you have in the fridge (ham, tuna etc), it can be made in bulk, ahead of time and popped in the freezer ready to go! Either make in a pan and then slice into smaller portions or make them in larger muffin tins and they are already portioned up!
Leave a Message
Whoever said you can’t package hugs and kisses?
Surprise your little scholar by tucking a love note into her lunch box so she knows you’re thinking about her even though you’re far away. And you’ll know that every day at lunchtime, she’s reading your note and thinking of you, too!
Kids love pizza and it doesn’t need to be a high fat, high salt one purchased from a pizza take-out. Try these easy pizza topping ideas for a great lunch box addition…it is a great alternative to a sandwich! I like to use wholemeal pita breads if I can!
Change out the bread
It is amazing how the same filling can taste so different when served on a different type of bread! Here two of my favourites:
Wraps – Spread a dollop of hummus on a whole-wheat wrap, then layer a slice of ham or chicken and some salad leaves. Roll up and cut into smaller bite sized portions!
Sushi sandwiches – This is the same idea as above but using flattened bread instead of wraps. Check out these great sushi sandwich roll toppings.
Bagels – ham and salad OR lettuce, cheese and vegemite OR roast meat and veges with mayo or relish
Tip: when making lunches in advance, spread both bagel halves with mayo, butter or margarine: it seals them and stops the bagel going soggy.
Build it yourself!
Not only does this idea help overcome the all too familiar soggy sandwich syndrome but kids just love being in control of their own lunch.
Slice up cheese, tomato, ham and relish and place it into a lunch box that has different compartments.
You can even cut the ham and cheese slices into fun shapes using cookie cutters. Pack the buttered bread or crackers in a separate container and voilà – they have a ‘do it yourself’ lunch ready to go!
Sweeten the deal!
Yes a lunch box should be healthy and provide kids with the sustenance they need to see them through their school day but that doesn’t mean you can’t include something sweet!
I don’t just mean biscuits or chocolates everyday – mix it up with home made scroggin (dried fruit, nuts and seeds), try these home made muesli bars, or even have a go at your own homemade fruit leather? It is sure to be a hit every time. As a rule of thumb – homemade is generally a healthier option than store bought as you get to control what goes in!
Check out our food and nutrition section for hundreds more healthy recipes.