What should I put in my child’s lunchbox?

Do you ever wonder what other parents pack in their children’s lunchboxes? I would like to be a fly on the wall of little man’s canteen to see what other children are eating. According to him, everyone eats crisps, sandwiches and biscuits. Nothing else!

I was delighted a few years ago when the government decided to introduce free school meals for all children up to Year 2. Knowing that my little one would get a warm, balanced meal every day was reassuring. I have to admit that lunch lunches do not always live up to my expectations, but that is a discussion for another day.

What happens when parents start making their children packed lunches in Year 3? Do they let the children what goes in the packed lunch?

The University of Leeds recently conducted a survey (commissioned by Flora) looking at children’s lunchboxes.

I was shocked to read that out of five lunchboxes, only one (17%) contained any vegetables or salad. Even worse, only 1.6% of  children’s lunchboxes were meeting school food nutritional standards.

It is not all ‘doom and gloom’ in the study though, as most lunchboxes met standards for protein (93%) and vitamin (75%). However the majority are still filled with saturated fats, sugary drinks, salt and too few fruits and vegetables.

Are parents the only ones to blame there? No, no, 100 times no. When Crevette started taking a lunchbox to school, we were not given any information regarding the school’s expectations of what would be in the said lunchbox. It was all wishy washy.

We only found out chocolate was a ‘no, no’ because Crevette’s homemade brownies were confiscated. Erm, so he was not allowed relatively healthy, homemade brownies (dark chocolate and raw cacao, anyone?) but children can have sugar-laden cakes or any type of crisps they want.

What we need as busy parents is guidance and simple solutions to help us create quick and healthy lunchboxes for our children. What makes a lunchbox healthy, nutritionally sound and full of goodness?

As part of their campaign to boost healthy eating in schools, Flora created a healthy lunch planner. I have found it really useful and I thought I would share it here so I can come back to it when I am lacking inspiration.

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

Putting together a good, healthy lunchbox need not be a chore or require effort or fancy equipment. Here is what Crevette’s lunchbox looks like on a typical day. Half of the time, we pack lunchboxes together, but he prefers me packing him a surprise lunchbox. He finds it really exciting, bless him!

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

On that day, I had bought myself an egg sandwich for lunch straight after playgroup with my younger two. Crevette loves egg sandwiches, so whenever I get myself one, I always keep a half for him. The fridge was getting pretty bare, but I had a couple of carrots needing using and we always have cucumber at home (perfect lunchbox ‘green’). We still had a few raspberries in the garden (autumn variety!) and I stole a couple of mini cereal bars from Jumpy’s allergy-friendly stash and added a halved kiwi, houmous and a spoon. The beauty of these pound shop tubs (10 for £1) is they are small enough to compress (without squashing) all of the above tightly enough so it does not create a mushy mess. Oh, and you can wash them and reuse them again and again.

Tonight, I made carrot and parsnip soup and he expressly requested I keep some for his lunch tomorrow. I bought him a brilliant thermos food container for his birthday last year. When you warm the food up in the morning, it really keeps it warm until lunchtime. Best buy ever for varying lunchboxes and using leftovers.

What I have struggled with over the past year is my little man’s ‘bipolar’ tastebuds. Seriously. one minute he loves something, but the next, he will not touch the stuff. He is getting picky. Long gone are the days when he would try to about anything presented to him. Mussels, snails, liver, stinky cheese. You name it, he would eat it… Every week, I check what he fancies in his lunchbox and whether he has gone off something new. The latest ‘unworthy food’ being a specific brand of breadsticks. Really?

Sometimes (on a really good day!), I actually plan dinner thinking of the following lunchbox, so that he can take cold leftovers to school.

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

Here are a couple of recipes you might find useful.

Rainbow Kebabs – main course

3 peppers, cut into 3x3cm cubes

1 red onion, sliced

Button mushrooms, halved

Baby plum tomatoes

Halloumi, cut into cubes

2 chicken breasts, diced

Splash of oil

Salt & pepper

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

Start by putting the kebab sticks in a bottle of water for 5 min. It will prevent them from burning under the grill.

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

In the meantime, chop the vegetables, cheese and meat.

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

Retrieve the kebab sticks and get everyone to make their own kebabs.

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

Grill for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through, turning halfway.

Serve with warm wholemeal pitta bread, houmous, guacamole or coleslaw and dressed leaves.

 

Potato salad – side

750g baby new potatoes, boiled in salty water for 15-20 minutes (until the blade of a knife goes in and comes out easily).

1/2 red onion, chopped finely

6 spring onions, trimmed, outer layer removed, washed and sliced

5 tablespoons mayonnaise

Salt, pepper

Leave the cooked potatoes to cool to room temperature. Dice them and mix with all ingredients in a large serving bowl.

 

Rainbow fruit kebabs – dessert

Let everyone make their own kebab using fruit you have at home.

 

White chocolate and cranberry cereal bars – An extra cheeky treat

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

We used Flora instead of butter to make our favourite treat. They were more crumbly than usual, but they still tasted delicious.

No Bake Cranberry and White Chocolate Cereal Bars - Yummy

Crevette was really happy to put together his lunchbox on that day. He made his own savoury kebab, chose the fruit for the sweet one and buttered his pitta bread.

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

He was particularly excited because my friend Grace, who blogs at ‘Eats Amazing,’ had given me a few goodies from her shop (do not look – you will want to buy it all!) to jazz up his lunchboxes. Check out the cute little panda container we used for the houmous, and the dotty pot he put his salad in!

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

You can also find great ideas for gluten-free vegan lunchboxes here.

Disclosure: This post is an entry for the #FloraLunchbox Linky Challenge, sponsored by Flora. Check out their lunch planner and recipe ideas here. I included a link to Amazon. As an affiliate, if you click and buy the Thermos flask, I might get a few pennies.

 

Save me for later!

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

 

Packing a lunchbox doesn’t need to be a chore! Check those simple steps to put together a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchbox for your child that is full of flavours, wholesome ingredients, fruit and vegetables so they are focused, bursting with energy and full. Don’t forget to pack water, too!

Digiprove sealThis content has been Digiproved

Subscribe

Comments

  1. Lyndsey says:

    Ahh its so hard to know what is right and wrong with pack lunches. That chart looks so good and easy!
    L x
    thequietresolution.co.uk

  2. LaaLaa (@LaaLaaMonroe) says:

    These are thoughtful and healthy lunchboxes. I’d even want to eat that for lunch x

  3. cattitudeandco says:

    This is a great post, what a handy little guide!

  4. Sarah Bailey says:

    I wouldn’t have the first idea on where to start with a lunch box, so this is a great little guide. x

  5. Stephanie Merry says:

    You can make me a lunchbox any day of the week – I love these ideas! And I love that he likes to be surprised by what he has in his lunchbox.

  6. The Kats Paws says:

    I know these are originally for children but I would be more than delighted with this kind of lunch xx

  7. Margo says:

    Mine are grown and gone now, but they took sandwiches with various fillings, I had two sizes of thermos for them. Soup or chili went in the larger and items like potato salad, sometimes something such as ranch chicken or chili pie, & sometimes a meat filling went into the smaller one especially if it contained mayo. They enjoyed fresh vegetables, such as carrot or zuchinni sticks, lettuce for their sandwich & green onions, cherry tomatoes on the side or fruits…the one thing I know now that I did not know way back when was that here in the states there is only one brand of wheat bread that does NOT have corn syrup in it and that is not good for anyone. I love your menu for children’s lunch boxes. It is brilliant!…one of their favorite fillings was albacore tuna with apple died into it with pecan bits and just enough mayo to hold it together. They had hard boiled eggs. When my oldest sons got into high school they worked a part time job in a really nice restaurant and grabbed different ideas from the chef and went to improvising meal of their own to take in their lunch.

    I think your young man has an excellent Mum to inspire him like you do.
    Have a blessed day.

    • Thanks so much for your comment Margo. Working in a restaurant to get more ideas would be a dream come true for me. I love varying what we eat, but you tend to get stuck in a rut, don’t you?

  8. Liz Mays says:

    It’s so fun when you’re able to be creative with the kids’ lunchboxes! Planning with the leftovers in mind is a pretty good strategy.

    • My little man loved his leftover carrot and parsnip soup for lunch today but he was telling me some of his ‘friends’ were mocking him at the table and saying his food smelt awful. What did they have for lunch? Crisps and Dairylea dunkers. Grrrr…

  9. nicol says:

    those are some great ideas for lunch! and its not constantly sandwiches

  10. Hannah says:

    I love the lunchbox builder – makes everything easy! I feel like even I need to follow that x

  11. I love the idea as when I was younger, packed lunches were so boring and full of processed rubbish! xxx

  12. Caroline Job says:

    I love anything rainbow! So colourful for the kids to enjoy! Some really useful tips! Thanks! Xx

  13. These are lovely balanced and healthy options for lunch box options.

  14. I love the idea of the lunchbox builder – lots of great ideas there. fruit and veggies are so important.

  15. TheLondonMum says:

    Great ideas for the lunch box! I never knew schools could confiscate food. I think I would have cried if the school confiscated my brownies at school!

  16. Sam | North East Family Fun says:

    wow loads of fab ideas here – I’m going to pin this post to my lunch box recipe board and pop back to it when I need inspiration – thanks x

  17. Ashleigh Day says:

    I’d struggle so much to make packed lunches every day, my son is super fussy. That lunch chart to pick things is a brilliant picture! xx

  18. How yummy! Love that you send in such bright and varied meals.

  19. MELANIE EDJOURIAN says:

    These look delicious and are a great idea to help encourage children to eat healthily. I’d eat them too!

  20. Baby Isabella says:

    Sounds like you have a healthy balance in that lunchbox! The rainbow kebabs look amazing too! It’s hard not to get stuck in a rut!

  21. i knew i was hexed? (@ikiwn) says:

    There are some great and diverse options here, I used to get a sandwich and packet of crisps every day and at the time I was happy with it but looking at this I can’t help but wish I’d found some of these in my lunchbox when I was a kid! X

    • Growing up in France, I didn’t have a lunchbox, so until I had to start packing little man’s lunches, I had no idea what I was supposed to pack for him.

  22. Rosie Corriette says:

    Those lunch boxes look amazing! Boo has school dinners as they’re really good and cooked on sight.

    • Lucky her! My niece also has lovely lunches cooked on site, but we’re not that lucky here… Not great, and really expensive if I’m honest.

  23. anthea says:

    I’m liking your lunchbox style. Mine take a lot of cold pasta and rice dishes to school for packed lunch as I didn’t want them having sandwiches every day. So I try and mix it up a little and that flora inforgraphic is great for some ideas.

  24. thingssarahloves says:

    I remember when I was at school, my mum always put surprises in my lunchbox and kept it exciting. I loved carrot sticks with different dips or fruit salads.

  25. Vicki Montague says:

    Wow! Your lunch boxes look fabulous! That little infographic from Flora is pretty helpful although I wouldn’t agree with putting a sweet treat in there. There is no need for a child to have a sugary treat at lunchtime in my opinion…all it serves to do is set them up with the expectation that they get something sweet after every meal and increases their desire for sweet foods. Fruit is sweet enough (not dried because that often contains more sugar than a sugary snack and gets stuck in their teeth causing decay)… Yup, you can tell I am no fun to live with but I know that my kids won’t have an increased chance of getting type 2 diabetes. Even savoury things have sugar in these days so it is very easy for kids to eat way too much sugar without you even giving them sugary things!

    • I agree with you re. overdoing sweet treats my lovely. Fruit is what Crevette normally gets as his sweet treat, as well as a cereal bar or some Greek yoghurt and jam. xx

  26. Daniella Keating says:

    This gives me inspo for my own packed lunch for work, thanks!

  27. Love the lunchbox builder – what a useful tool to help get ideas about what to put in the lunchbox. Crevette’s lunchboxes look very yummy. I have to admit I’m quite relieved that Jessica has free school meals at the moment as it means I don’t have to come up with ideas for lunchtime! I like the sound of the rainbow kebabs and the cereal bars though 🙂

    • Thanks sweetie. His lunchboxes are not always that pretty, but as he’s getting a tad fussy, I make sure he has things he really likes for lunch. x

Speak Your Mind

*