Thinking of healthy and exciting pack lunch fillings can be a daily challenge, especially if you can’t envisage your child happily trotting off to school with a box of sprouting mung beans and you’re not bowing to the crisp and chocolate demands.
Here are some simple, fast and delicious ideas to bring new life to the dreaded lunchbox. It’s time to bin the soggy sandwiches and get inspired with these healthy, speedy and scrumptious school packed lunch ideas. Remember, the power of novelty is not to be underestimated!
According to NHS choices a well balanced lunchbox should contain:
- Starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes or pasta
- Protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs or beans
- A dairy item such as cheese or yogurt
- Vegetables or salad and a portion of fruit
The Eat Well Guide shows you how to have a healthy balanced diet and can help you decide what to put in your child’s lunchbox. Click on the link below to download your copy.
For some healthy lunchbox ideas, visit the Change4Life website. You’ll find a whole host of recipes, hints and tips on food groups and helpful shopping guides and lists.
Cheese and pickle is not to be knocked, but if your kids are tired of the same old sandwich fillings, then why not try something new?
Double decking bread just makes sandwiches more exciting. But it also gives you license to squeeze in extra good stuff. The Green Club Sandwich is high on energy, so kids should feel extra alert all the way through double maths.
Different sandwich filler ideas are also a great way of adding extra variety by getting creative with simple ingredients.
Use a star-shaped cutter to stamp out six bread stars from the wholemeal bread (freeze the off-cuts to make breadcrumbs). Swirl red pesto through the cream cheese and spread onto both sides of the stars.
Mix their favourite grated hard cheese with grated apple, chopped spring onions, a squeeze of lemon and a little mayonnaise. Delicious with wholemeal bread or rolls.
Skin and flake smoked mackerel fillets, then mix with a little mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. Spread onto thick wholemeal bread and top with crisp lettuce leaves.
Try Marmite, grated cheddar and sliced cucumber in a crusty baguette or ciabatta roll, they’ll either love it or hate it.
Want to lose the sandwich altogether? There are plenty of carby options that kids should love, which help add a bit of variety into their diet.
Try the Store Cupboard Pasta Salad or the Two-Bean Tuna Salad. Both of these work really well in the summer months. If you’re worried about keeping your child’s lunchbox cool, why not freeze an extra bottle of water overnight to work as a cooler, and they should have a refreshing afternoon drink too.
Here are some more ideas:
- Ploughman’s lunch
- Very easy pasta salad
- Chicken guacamole wrap
- Mini ham rolls
- Sweet potato and chickpea soup
- BLT pasta salad
- Chicken taco salad
- Tortellini with pesto and broccoli
- Carrot and houmous roll-ups
Cutting out foods that are high in salt and sugar is a huge step to creating a healthy lunch for your child. Simply swapping crisps, sweet biscuits and chocolate bars for foods like dried fruit, chunks of cheese or a low-sugar yogurt is a huge step forward. But if you want to get creative, there are plenty of interesting ideas that kids should fall in love with:
- Bean dip with veggie sticks
- Raspberry banana smoothie
- Cinnamon custard plums
- Apricot granola yogurt pots
- Carrot and pineapple muffins
For a sweet and fruity treat for kids needing a boost at lunchtime, try the recipe for Fruity sundae—yogurt swirled with mashed strawberries and topped with berries.
If your child is known for returning their fruit untouched in their lunchbox then the Choco-dipped tangerines be the answer. Who can resist a chocolate orange in fruity form?
Sweet potato crisps are a super-simple veggie snack and take no time to make. Just thinly slice a sweet potato and roast in olive oil – no added salt is needed.
If your child needs a sweet fix then chocolate-drizzled popcorn is quick and easy and makes a great alternative to a chocolate snack bar.
Fibre, yogurt and fruit make a winning combination in scrumptious crunchy melon pots. Rhubarb and custard crunch makes a great Friday treat. Tuck shops may not be the norm now but the combination of rhubarb and custard never really went out of fashion.
Alternatively, spiced apple crisps take a bit of time to bake, but couldn’t be simpler to make. Try packaging in a paper bag to make them look more like sweets.
Chocolate flapjacks are packed full of slow-burning carbs that will happily see kids through an afternoon of running around the playground.
Creating a pick and mix affect can make fruit look much more attractive to kids, even if it is just taking the time to peel and dice an apple and adding in a couple of grapes. It sounds ridiculous, but sticking fruit and cheese on a stick can really work wonders when it comes to getting kids to eat their 5-a-day, and takes just minutes to prepare. Whizzing up healthy dips or homemade houmous to accompany vegetable sticks is another great trick, and so much easier than you might think. Here are some ideas:
- Cheese and fruit sticks
- Smashed bean dip
- Frozen fruit sticks with passion fruit drizzle
- Red lentil and sweet potato dip
All recipe ideas in this section are supplied courtesy of the BBC Food Collection. Click on the icon below to jump to our ‘Recipes’ page.