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Had to scoop another mushy, black banana out of a lunchbox again? It’s time to make school lunchboxes exciting, so your child can’t wait to tuck into all their healthy snacks – yes, even that slightly browning banana!
Packed with all the good stuff and topped with a generous sprinkling of love, here are some great children’s lunchbox ideas to get you started:
Healthy lunch box ideas for kids begin with balance
We all know how important a healthy lunch is, especially when it comes to providing kids with the energy and focus they need to manage the rest of their school day. And we also know that a healthy diet is a balanced one. So, if you’re looking for healthy lunchbox ideas for kids, remember to include:
- Vegetables or salad and fresh fruit
- Starchy carbohydrates, such as bread, potatoes, rice or pasta
- Proteins, such as eggs, fish, meat, beans, lentils or cheese
- A low-sugar or sugar-free side dish, such as natural yoghurt or fruity flapjack (not a food group, but it makes them happy)
- A sugar-free drink, such as water or milk
It’s a good idea to ask your little one to help you pack their lunchbox each day. That way, you can explain the difference between each food type and why they are important as you go, and avoid adding anything they really don’t like. Plus, you can see just how many sweets they’d pack if it was up to them!
Master that main with these healthy lunch box recipes
It’s time to make your children’s sandwiches stand out – here’s how to inject your children's lunchbox ideas with some exciting alternatives:
- DIY sandwiches. A sweaty cheese sandwich squashed in the corner of the lunchbox isn’t the most appetising lunch for anyone, so to encourage your kid to eat their sandwiches (yes, even the crusts), why not just provide the ingredients and let them build their own? DIY construction adds the perfect fun novelty factor and is a great way for them to start experimenting with food preparation.
- Change the bread. Lift lunchbox sandwiches out of the norm by swapping your usual bread with sandwich thins, seeded buns, flatbread, tortilla wraps or pitta pockets to make help sandwiches feel different.
- Swap the sandwich. Opt instead for fresh tomato pasta salad, savoury vegetable rice, chicken couscous salad, cheesy arancini rice balls, spicy samosas, or bacon quiche for a yummy alternative to the daily sandwich.
Soggy sandwiches are no fun, so a piece of absorbent kitchen paper, like Plenty Original, is an essential addition to any lunchbox. Tuck an extra sheet in with juicy fruit like oranges to wipe sticky fingers after lunch.
All children’s lunch box ideas need some fruit and veg
If you're looking for some quick lunchbox ideas to boost the lunchtime main, get inventive with fruit, vegetables and salad:
- Vegetable sticks. Finger foods are always fun, so prep some carrot, cucumber and pepper sticks, baby tomatoes and broccoli, and accompany with a healthy homemade hummus to help kids get their 5-a-day.
- Frozen fruit. The perfect way to provide fruit that may not travel well, kids will love crunching into ice-cold grapes, raspberries and blueberries as a lunchbox surprise.
- Fruit smoothies. Get creative with lots of fresh fruit and a blender for a tasty fruity drink that will win over even the most reluctant of fruit-eaters. Just make sure the lid’s on tight or your evening will be searching for ‘how to remove creamy strawberry smoothie from school bag’.
- Fruity yoghurt. Brighten up a plain yoghurt with a bunch of mixed berries, such as strawberries, blackberries and blueberries, for a finger-licking fruit mix that won't make its way home again in the lunchbox.
- Chunky mixed salad. Chop tomato, cucumber, pepper, broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage for an interesting and colourful salad, adding sunflower or pumpkin seeds for extra texture.
An extra pair of hands: Lunch box ideas to make with the kids
Preparing lunch isn’t just a parent’s job – these tasty extras are easy children’s lunchbox ideas that are fun to make with the kids:
- Fruity flapjacks. Use honey instead of sugar for delicious homemade flapjacks. With plenty of slow-burning carbs, they’re a tasty lunchbox treat that will keep kids going all afternoon. Get the kids to do the mixing with their hands – they’ll love getting their squidging the mix between their fingers.
- Apple muffins. Sweeten with maple syrup and make with whole-wheat flour for soft and fluffy apple muffins that will be happily received, and even more fun to prepare.
- Homemade popcorn. Shop-bought popcorn can be heavy on butter and sugar, so prepare your own healthy plain version, or add a dash of cinnamon and honey for sweetness.
There you have it: healthy lunch box recipes that will be asked for again and again. And remember, there might always be something wet or soggy that’s clinging to a lunchbox lid as a result of not being eaten – but kids are still growing at they’re definitely aware of the love you’ve put into each lunchbox; because sometimes, love is cleaning a lunchbox covered in hummus.