33 healthy lunchbox ideas you won’t find hidden in the bottom of their backpack
Back to school. Back to the daily (lunchbox) grind.
We all want our kids to eat well, but sending them off with a bag full of good intentions and gluten free snacks doesn’t always work.
They’ll swap items, turn their nose up or simply toss what they don’t like.
It takes a precise combination of colour, coercion and magic to pack a successful lunchbox – one that is healthy, and won’t come home soggy.
Today we want to help you do it!
We’re offering our favourite tips for getting your little people involved and excited to devour what you pack for them.
Tips for success – at home:
- Know your child. Do they like the same thing every day? Or variety? Are they a big eater or a sparrow?
- Get them involved. Kids who cook are engaged with what they’re eating, know what real food tastes like and appreciate the effort that goes into a meal. Allowing your kids to help at mealtimes and also specify what they’d like to take to school the next day reduces the chance of shock! horror! there’s a spam sandwich in my lunchbox! Who packed that?
- Make a list together. Sit down with your kid/s and ask: what do you like to eat? What will make you happy when you sit down for recess? Let’s negotiate healthy and tasty options. Giving them a voice in the process works wonders for compliance (not that you’re running a dictatorship or anything. Only sometimes!)
- Plan your week in lunches: Many of you already have a dinner roster – make one for lunches too. This lifts the weight of decision-making and cements a routine for your kids They can also refer to the calendar to see ‘what’s for lunch?!’ – and you never know, they might get excited about what’s coming up.
- Buy a thermos and harness the power of leftovers. Dinners are the precursor to delicious, pre-prepared lunches. Always cook more than you need at night, taking a few extra minutes to portion out the rest into containers for lunch tomorrow. Your future self will thank you in the morning.
Tips for success – at school.
- Add variety. Kids typically need to eat more frequently than adults. Dividing their lunchboxes into interesting, smaller snack options will keep them satiated and spoilt for choice.
- Always add protein. Many pre-packaged or processed lunch box items are shamefully low in protein – the very thing that will keep kids full and focused. Be sure to include things like egg, meats, nuts or seeds (as per allergy guidelines), high-quality dairy or vegetarian alternatives – not just carbs and sweet foods.
- Make it a bit special. Invest in a set of eco-containers (that will last until Uni!) to add colour, extra compartments and far fewer chemicals to your kids’ day. We love My Green Lunchbox for sustainable Aussie options.
Now you’re ready to tackle the new school year with a fool-proof food strategy.
The only question left is…. what do I make?
33 of our favourite healthy lunchbox ideas
- Spicy Tuna Cakes
- Grass-fed or organic deli meats
- Colourful crudites and babaghanoush.
- Hard-boiled or devilled eggs.
- Egg & prosciutto roll-ups (oooh! fancy.)
- Leftover roasted vegetable cubes such as pumpkin, sweet or white potato.
- Sliced leftover roasted meat with chutney
- Home-spiced macadamia nuts
- A whole baked potato (with your kid’s favourite extras)
- Healthy egg muffin cups
- Bacon & egg cupcakes
- Dried sulfur-free figs
- Fresh seasonal whole fruits
- Pear and cheese stacks
- Rainbow fruit-salad cup
- Strawberry roll-ups
- Coconut oil salt n vinegar crisps
- A little pot of pickles (try mild olives or done-yourself dill pickles).
- Bliss balls
- Good quality local yogurt & fruit
- Baked coconut chips with cinnamon and coconut oil.
- Baked kale chips.
- Homemade trail mix (can make seed-only for allergies)
- Homemade rocky road slice.
- Chocolate date squares
- Carob (without the chocolate! Our local favourite, here).
- Cinnamon ‘French Toast’ Flatbread
- Nut-free chocolate zucchini muffins
- A whole baked apple with cinnamon
- Homemade gummy bears
We like the ‘water only’ rule for kids – even juices and ‘healthy alternatives’ for kids are still packed with sugar.
However, if you’re looking for a treat (or a healthful cool/fizzy alternative), give these a go:
Phew! That should keep you going for the semester. Or until your little people start begging for ‘more types of those delicious green chip things!’
Remember to let us know how you go. We love hearing your feedback, wins, setbacks and breakthroughs in clinic.