School packed lunch inspiration

Bin the soggy sandwiches and get inspired with our healthy, speedy and scrumptious school packed lunch ideas.

Lunchbox collections

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 scrumptious ideas to bring new life to the dreaded lunchbox, and remember, the power of novelty is not to be underestimated.

Healthy and happy

According to NHS choices a balanced lunchbox should contain:

  • Starchy foods like bread, rice, potatoes or pasta
  • Protein foods like meat, fish, eggs or beans
  • A dairy item, like cheese or yogurt
  • Vegetables or salad and a portion of fruit

Try something new

Green club sandwich

Cheese and pickle is not to be knocked, but if your kids are tired with the same old sandwich fillings then why not try something new?

Double decking bread just makes sandwiches more exciting, fact. But it also gives you license to squeeze in extra good stuff. This green club sandwich is high on energy, so kids should feel extra alert all the way through double maths. Lesley Water's sandwich filler ideas are also a great way of adding extra variety by getting creative with simple ingredients.

You're a star sarnies

Use a star-shaped cutter to stamp out six bread stars from the wholemeal bread (freeze the off-cuts to make breadcrumbs). Swirl the red pesto through the cream cheese and spread onto both sides of the stars. Close, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge if making the night before.

Cheese and apple You're a star sandwiches

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.

Creamy smoked mackerel

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.

Scout's MCC

Try Marmite, grated cheddar and sliced cucumber in a crusty baguette or ciabatta roll, they'll either love it or hate it.

Sandwich swap BLT pasta salad

Want to bin the sandwich altogether? There are plenty of carby options that kids should love, which help add a bit of variety into your child's diet. Follow the 'make it for kids' swap on the store cupboard pasta salad, or this two-bean tuna salad works really well in the summer months. If you are worried about keeping your child's lunchbox cool then 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...

Speedy lunchbox mains including cheese ploughman's lunch, very easy pasta salad, chicken guacamole wrap and more.

BLT pasta salad Chicken taco salad

Chicken taco salad

Tortellini with pesto & broccoli

Carrot & houmous roll-ups

Chicken roll-ups

Melon potCrisp and chocolate swaps

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 unsalted nuts, dried fruit, chunks of cheese or a low-sugar yogurt is a huge step forward. But if you want to get creative we have plenty of interesting ideas for lunchbox snacks that kids should fall in love with...

Fruity sundae

A sweet and fruity treat for kids needing a boost at lunchtime - yogurt swirled with mashed strawberries, topped with berries.

Fruity sundae

Choco-dipped tangerines Choco-dipped tangerines

If your child is known for returning their fruit untouched in their lunchbox then this might be the answer. Who can resist a chocolate orange in fruity form? 

Choco-dipped tangerines

Sweet potato crisps

This super-simple veggie snack takes no time to make, just thinly slice a sweet potato and roast in olive oil - no added salt is needed. 

Sweet potato crisps

Chocolate-drizzled popcornChocolate-drizzled popcorn

If your child needs a sweet fix then this quick and easy popcorn makes a great alternative to a chocolate snack bar. 

Chocolate-drizzled popcorn

Melon & crunchy bran pots

Fibre, yogurt and fruit make a winning combination in these scrumptious crunchy melon pots.

Melon & crunchy bran pots

Welsh rarebit muffins

Get the kids to help make up these yummy muffins, and they can show of the results to their friends at lunchtime.

Welsh rarebit muffins

Rhubarb & custard potRhubarb & custard crunch

These are great for a Friday treat. Tuck shops might not be as popular, but the combination of rhubarb and custard never really went out of fashion.

Rhubarb & custard crunch

Spiced apple crisps

These 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.

Spiced apple crisps

Chocolate flapjacks

These bars are packed full of slow-burning carbs that will happily see kids through an afternoon of running around the playground.

Chocolate flapjacks

New ways with fruit and veg

Fruit sticksCreating 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 & fruit sticks

Smashed bean dip

Frozen fruit sticks with passion fruit drizzle

Red lentil & sweet potato dip

If you've got any ideas on what to pack in your child's lunchbox we'd love to hear them, or let us know how you got on with our lunchbox recipes...

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