Forget, the cute and fun food you can find on Pinterest (that encourages food waste and requires you to get up at 4am), this is a round up of practical, easy, tasty and nutritious lunch box ideas.
- Freezing & Tupperware – You could have a “cooking session” once a week or even once a month. Get it all done and store away for the days and weeks to come.
- Prep Lunch Boxes whilst Cooking Supper – A classic time saver is making your lunch boxes whilst you are cooking supper.
- Enlist Help – Get the kids to help you cook and prepare. They learn about food and cooking, they are able to appreciate the effort of prepping food more, they are more likely to give you honest feedback, you have help AND you have a “weekly” activity you can do together!
- Everyone gets the same food – at school, home and the office – If your lunchboxes are well balanced, then the whole family can have the same packed lunch – whether at school, work or at home. You will have the additional benefit of seeing what parts of the meal “go down well”.
- Make your food seasonal – adding a “natural” variation to your food, especially when it comes to fruit, whilst also teaching your kids about seasons!
Here we go.
Now.. I just wanted to make sure that we don’t forget the humble sandwich. There is nothing wrong with a sandwich and nothing wrong with a simple ham or cheese sandwich. Every so often and my kids will LOVE it. Every day… and they won’t. So don’t forgot the humble sandwich. It is more than fine. Vary your bread to vary the sandwich. And the key to non soggy sandwiches is to create a “barrier” between the filling and the slice of bread: a thin layer of butter or cheese is a great barriers. There are literally a 100 Sandwich Filler ideas here.
I love not only the recipe suggestion here, but also how Kitchen Counter Chronicle top tip for freezing these properly. Needless to say, the variations for making your own pizza are endless. And as they are homemade you can make sure that fat and salt contents are low.
I am a great fan of quiche, as overall it is reasonably well balanced meal – carbs (in the pastry), proteins (in the eggs and cheese), and vitamins and fibre (in the vegetables). I have been making it for my kids for years. Our Quiche Recipe is from scratch, but you can make it quicker to make by using store bought pastry and adding ingredients that do not need pre cooking. I slice it into 12 slices and freeze. Then pop two frozen slices into your lunchbox in the morning and it will have defrosted by lunchtime. Like the Pizza, you have one recipe with 100s of alternatives for the fillings. You can of course make this as “Mini” quiches – just pop the same dough and filling into a muffin tray! But it IS more of a faff.. and you want quick and easy, right?!
I love the idea of varying your childs food, by varying the presentation with these “kebabs” of food on a stick. There are 5 different “recipe” ideas over at Goodlife Eats – varying from Salami, to Ham and Turkey as “meat” bases. Of course you can make them vege too or just fruity!
As a mum of 4 Amanda’s Cookin knows what she is talking about… and if making and freezing sandwiches ahead of time helps, then I believe her. The key is to avoid a soggy sandwhich. Check the instructions to find out what the secret is!! This principle about frozen sandwiches applies to most sandwiches combinations not just PBJ ones. Though there may be a little trial an error at the beginning.
When you next have potatoes with your evening meal, cook some extra (as well as chopping extra veg) and make this delicious sound green potato salad. From My Friendly Lunchbox, which is PACKED with other lunch box tips and hints!
I think My Friendly Lunchbox really does know her stuff.. here we have an easy Sausage Roll recipe (basically just buy some puff pastry!!). She doesn’t say whether you can freeze them or not, which of course would be an added bonus. But they do look simple to make, so guess it doesn’t matter? And you could half the puff pastry and make one half sausage rolls and the other half something vege?
A different take on the tortilla wrap are these pinwheel sandwiches. I think they look tasty! I confess.. not to sure how quick they are to make, but I think we will be giving these a go for varieties sake! On She Knows you will find 8 different fillings. Great… 8 lunch ideas sorted! I am sure you would get away with making these the night before!
Dip & Pitta Bread
Hide and Seek Learning recommends a tuna, sweet corn, red pepper, avocado dip. Mix it all together, add some pitta bread on the side and done. Very popular with her boys and takes 2 mins!
When having pasta at the evening meal, cook extra and then visit Family Go, for a range of Pasta, Couscous and potato salads to be inspired by. Some super simple like this Italian Pasta, others using things like Turkey Left overs. Now I just need to persuade my kids that couscous and the likes are GOOD. As that opens a HOST of new lunchbox possibilities!
Utterly Scrummy has a great foodie site packed with fabulous recipe and ideas. She has a whole lunchbox post for you to check out. But I wanted to highlight the last recipe – the Vege Parcels, as you can freeze them (the others sound darn tasty too me, but I worry about how easy they are to “just pop” in lunch box still, DO take a look for Falafels, Calzone and Banana Muffins!) And she has MORE lunch box tips in this post all about “Lunch box wisdom“!
Hertfordshire Mummy swears by this Chicken & Apple Balls recipe from the UK Baby Chef Anabel Karmel. She shares the recipe or you can find a slightly detail instructions here. I confess.. it seems like a lot of work to me – but I guess it is a) worth trying if they freeze/ keep well in the fridge and b) maybe every couple of weeks, it is ok to put a little more effort into a special tasty lunchbox treat?
Another great article from My Friendly Lunchbox, giving you that extra “ooomph” to get you through those last few days of term when you feel you have exhausted all your ideas. From rolled sandwiches to simply changing your bread!
LUNCHBOX SNACKS AND TREATS
Don’t forget fresh fruit and piece of vegetables such a mini tomatoes or carrot sticks. Make the fruit seasonal – and a) it will keep the costs down and b) make it more interesting for the children. Whilst teaching them a little about the seasons! Why not grow your in own in your garden? You don’t need a lot of space to grow a little yourself. How special to bring your own fruit and veg to school? Or go foraging for blackberries and plums or whatever is local to you (applies to late Summer School Term and early Autumn School Term). Take the fruit in fresh or make a “forager’s cake“.
Again Frugal Family comes to the lunch box rescue. She has worked out that she can feed her children cheaper than the school dinners that are on offer (yay) and shares some of her favourite recipes, including these Cheese Pops. Now I am not sure if you can freeze them or not. But I guess if you have an air tight container, they should last a few days! And if you have 4 kids like Amanda.. well, they won’t need to last very long! The Packed Lunch cake looks great too!
A great post from Childhood 101 – a list of 20 snack ideas – and you can print it off as a check list! Brilliant and SOOOO handy! You will find lunchbox snack ideas, such as pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn and trail Mix
Childhood 101 shares her delicious looking museli bars, back full of dried fruit goodness. The key difference the bar above, is that it used 3 eggs. I will be keen to try this out and see what the taste difference is!
Mmmm yummy ENERGY food from Gourmet Mum – banana flapjacks should keep them going all day. Perfect for when sports is in the diary.
Mmmh these sound gorgeous and I love the idea of hiding some vegetables in a muffin. I will most definitely try these with my kids. You will find Laura over at Mindful Mum with this recipe. But she has a number of other recipes for you to browse as well (am tempted by the Teriyaki Salmon, but maybe for an evening meal one night)
Yes they freeze! (I always check this first). Sooo, now we know they freeze, let’s move on. Frugal Family has a great set of ideas and this is just one of them – Mars Bar muffins! She has a basic recipe that you can use and add to how ever you like. In this case Mars Bars. Then pop in the freezer and you have a few week’s worth of lunch box treats sorted.
We love this basic shortbread recipe, as it is versatile and easy to make. Stored in an air tight container they will keep quite a while and you can freeze the dough to use on later batches. You can also mix and match – make the first batch with choc chips and the next with raisins!
Oooh these sound yummy and nice to add some different flavours to your cookie and muffin mix. A Mother’s Rambling shares these yummy treats.
Ok.. so occasionally I do want the lunchbox to be fun too! But I still cannot do the whole “pinterest” thing, that requires me to throw most of a sandwhich away or prep food for hours.
You will find lots of healthy treat ideas on Kiind (be sure to hit the “translate button) at the top of the page, but these little napkin pirates did make me giggle!
Don’t forget, it quick and easy to add a little note… as Mummy Mummy Mum shares – not only can you send your child a heart warming message.. but you can encourage reading and make it fun! (You will see other reading ideas on this post too). Go wild and buy multi coloured or shaped post its!
Oh so simple and look how it makes you smile. I won’t say do this EVERY day.. it looses it’s effect, but do it every so often and make your kids smile! Poca Cosa sticks things on other items too. Be sure to go and look!
These cookies last for ages. This is a really simple cookie recipe to make (with the kids), you can even freeze the dough if you wish. Make a batch, put them in a good air tight tin and you could last you a whole term.. each day, add a couple of letters your child is learning about at school (for the younger ones) and for the older ones, write out a short word or challenge them to see what words they can come up with using the letters “provided”.
I do hope this helps you prepare yourself for the lunch box planning to come. If you have any great ideas of tips or recipes you would like to share, PLEASE do leave it in the comments! Happy lunch box eating!!!
PS if you fancy and “Back To School craft ideas“.. do visit Red Ted Art!