School packed lunch ideas
Bin the soggy sandwiches and get inspired with our healthy, speedy and scrumptious school packed lunch ideas.
Thinking of healthy and exciting packed lunches 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.
What should a healthy packed lunch contain?
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
Lunchbox sandwich ideas
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?
Combine two lunchtime favourites for the ultimate mealtime mash-up your kids will love. These hearty omelette rolls can either be served warm for a quick dinner or wrapped up for a satisfying veggie packed lunch the next day. Fill the omelettes with juicy cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta and spinach for a mouth-watering bite. You could add extra salad, if you like, and older children may like a touch of salsa or pickle as well.
Use a star-shaped cutter to stamp out six bread stars from wholemeal bread (freeze the off-cuts to make breadcrumbs). Swirl red pesto through cream cheese and spread onto both sides of the stars. Close the sandwich, wrap and chill in the fridge if making the night before.
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.
Help your kids to pack in the veggies with these super tasty and colourful salad wraps. We've added lots of crunchy veg for texture, whilst cheddar cheese and hummus give a flavour hit. Alternatively, add tuna, chicken or egg. For more tasty tortillas, try our carrot & hummus roll-ups or chicken roll-ups.
Cheese and apple
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.
Marmite, cheese and cucumber
Try Marmite, grated cheddar and sliced cucumber in a crusty baguette or ciabatta roll. They'll either love it or hate it.
Alternatives to sandwiches
Want to ditch sandwiches altogether? There are plenty of carby options that kids should love and that can help add a bit of variety into your child's diet.
Perk up their lunchboxes with a gorgeously creamy pesto pasta salad. Customise with cooked veg such as peas, green beans and courgettes, as well as an assortment of protein. Chicken, ham, prawns, hard-boiled egg or cheese are all good options, depending on dietary preference. For more pasta inspiration, follow the 'make it for kids' swap on our storecupboard pasta salad; whip up a speedy Mediterranean-style tortellini with pesto & broccoli; or try this flavourful BLT pasta salad for a lighter version of a classic British sarnie.
For something a little lighter yet still filling and flavoursome, make our speedy coronation chicken salad. This deliciously creamy recipe uses pre-cooked roast chicken pieces along with a grain pounch to save time. Our chicken taco salad and two-bean potato & tuna salad also 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 – it'll give them a refreshing afternoon drink, too.
Discover plenty more healthy lunchbox ideas for kids.
If your kids fancy something warm and comforting for lunch, why not whip them up a tasty soup, a veg-packed curry or even some Swedish-style meatballs? Pack in a wide-necked thermos flask to take to school. With these super-satisfying recipes, they'll be the envy of the class on chilly winter days...
Healthier lunchbox snacks
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...
A sweet and fruity treat for kids needing a boost at lunchtime – yogurt swirled with mashed strawberries and topped with berries.
These super easy and moreish oatmeal bites are not only bursting with wholesome flavour, but also only take 30 minutes to prep and bake. Your kids might never ask for shop-bought versions again...
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?
This super-simple veggie snack takes no time to make. Simply drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with ras el hanout before popping in the oven
If your child needs a sweet fix, then this quick and easy popcorn makes a great alternative to a chocolate snack bar.
Fibre, yogurt and fruit make a winning combination in these scrumptious crunchy melon pots.
Get the kids to help make up these yummy muffins, and they can show off the results to their friends at lunchtime.
These are great for a Friday treat. Tuck shops might not be as popular as they once were, but this classic combination of rhubarb and custard never really went out of fashion.
These bars are packed full of slow-burning carbs that will happily see kids through an afternoon of running around the playground.
These easy granola bars are great for lunchboxes as the porridge oats, sunflower seeds and walnuts are filling, so they can see kids through a long day of learning.
These cheesy egg & noodle muffins are packed full of veg – we used broccoli and carrots, but peas, courgette and peppers also work.
New ways with fruit and veg
Creating a pick-and-mix effect can make fruit look much more attractive to kids, even if all it involves is a few extra minutes peeling and dicing an apple or adding in a couple of grapes. It sounds ridiculous, but securing fruit and cheese on a stick can really work wonders when it comes to getting kids to eat their five-a-day, and it takes just minutes to prepare. Whizzing up healthy dips or homemade hummus to accompany vegetable sticks is another great trick, and so much easier than you might think. Here are some ideas...
These spiced apple crisps take a bit of time to bake, but couldn't be simpler to make. Try packing them in a paper bag to make them look more like sweets.
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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...