Are you constantly scratching your head in the morning while looking at your child’s empty lunch box before school? Has your child been complaining about eating the same thing every day, and perhaps you are also getting tired of preparing the same lunch box every morning too? Well, don’t worry because we have just the perfect inspirations for you to make lunch boxes exciting again!
In this blog piece, we will be sharing some fun, creative and quick to make lunch box ideas that you could try out for your child’s next lunch box (and hopefully the following one, and the one after that too!!). But before we dive into the fun part, let’s just talk about the importance of having a balanced lunch box for a second. STOP! Please don’t skip this part! I promise you it will come in handy when building the perfect lunch box for your kid.
As children grow, their nutritional needs also increase. This is where the role of a balanced lunch box comes in. A balanced lunch box contains all five food groups (i.e., carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables, dairy and healthy fats), which can provide children with the energy, protein, essential vitamins and minerals, fibre they need to optimise their growth, health, and activity. These key nutrients at lunchtime will help fuel their bodies for the rest of the day too! The following lunch boxes can serve as a good model to follow when you’re making yours. Lots of foods can be used to make a packed lunch varied and tasty.
1. Filling ideas
Of course, we cannot forget about the classics of lunch boxes: sandwiches, but who are we to say that fillings only belong in sandwiches? Try out these fillings we have listed down for you in your wraps/rolls/baps/panini/pitta bread:
- Ham and cheese
- Tomato and cheese
- Tuna and sweetcorn
- Egg, mayo and cress
- Banana and cream cheese
- Cheddar and grapes
- Cheddar and apple
- Avocado and banana
- Hummus, feta cheese and tomato
2. Wrap it up!
The first thing that comes to mind when I hear, “quick and easy” are sandwiches, but who says wraps are not easy and quick to make? Sometimes children may get bored of constantly having sandwiches, so these options are going to be your best friend. Here are some examples that you can try out:
- Chicken, lettuce and cucumber wrap
- Chicken and vegetables in rice paper
- Hoisin chicken wrap with cucumber and spring onions
3. Animal-themed lunch box ideas
While it is understandable that you may be too busy to do this every day why not try to do an animal-themed lunch box once in a while? You can either cut the bread to the right shape or buy some cheap cutters to get the desired effect! This could be something the kids could look forward to during their Friday lunchtimes, or you could even get the kids involved to make them with you on a Sunday night, for Monday’s lunch break. Here are some examples:
4. Country-themed lunch box ideas
If you want to spice up your kid’s lunch box, why not try foods from other cultures? This could pique your child’s interest, making them more excited to eat their meals. You could also relate to other activities such as finding the country on the world map, reading a book or having a go and making a family themed dinner such as taco night!
- Quesadilla with guacamole (Mexican)
- Teriyaki chicken and rice balls (Japanese)
- Grilled chicken, hummus and pitta bread (Mediterranean)
Seasonal-themed lunch box ideas
These seasonal-themed lunch boxes are super cute and festive, which can be super exciting for the kids, so why not give them a go?
- Valentine’s Day
5. Hot meal ideas
If you have a child who prefers hot meals over cold, consider getting a thermos pot if you haven’t got one already. This would keep their food warm for longer, making their meal more enjoyable for them.
- Tomato soup and grilled cheese
- Curry and rice
- Pesto pasta
- Red pasta
6. Snack/side ideas
You may be thinking, “my child is not going to eat any of those fruits/vegetables in the pictures you have shown us,” This is totally fine! In fact, this is not a surprise at all. Hence, we have come up with many ways you can make your children touch the fruit and vegetables compartment of their lunch box:
- Sprinkle cinnamon on their fruits. This gives the fruits extra flavour, and make them seem like they taste sweeter
- Turn them into skewers! This makes the fruits easier to hold, and it makes them look more appealing (think rainbow!)
- DIPS DIPS DIPS!!! There is something fun with having to dip your food into a dip before eating it, it gives us a sense of adding extra flavour and texture to our food making the food more enjoyable
7. Healthy Swaps
It is ideal to limit the intake of crisps, sweets, biscuits, and chocolate to 1-2 times a week. Here are some ideas of how to make simple swaps.
- Swap crips for popcorn or pop chips
- Swap sweets for fruit including fresh, dried or tinned fruit
- Swap full sugar fizzy drinks for sugar free versions or flavoured water
- Swap biscuits for rice cakes or crackers
8. Plan ahead
- You can now use the information we have given you to get some inspiration for your child’s next lunch box. This would help you with your next grocery shopping, and spare you time from wondering what to make next.
- Prepare the lunch box the night before to save you from stress in the morning.
- Don’t throw away last night’s leftovers, these can be easily put in the thermos for a hot meal and call it a day.
9. Change it up!
- Buy fruits and vegetables on offer and in season to save cost.
- Consider other forms of fruits and vegetables (i.e. frozen, tinned or dried) for better shelf-life.
- Buy go-to-go rice or grains for hot meals to save time.
10. Get your child involved!
It’s always good to get your child to look forward to their meals! Getting children involved when making their lunch box would allow your child to include the foods they like in their lunch box, and design their meals how they want it, which would make them more excited with their lunch box, increasing their likelihood of finishing their meals.
Now, what are you waiting for? Express your love to your child by using our amazing lunchbox ideas for their next lunchbox! If you do tag us on social media @nutrition4kidsni and let us know how you get on! We love seeing families making our foods.
Want to learn more, why not join our mailing list to get a free cheat sheet or check out our new Munchbox Lunch Boxes ebook?
Need more support?
Check out the Nutrition 4 Kids NI Mastering Fussy Eating online course or webinar workshop. Dr Kirsty can also provide one-to-one consultations to establish effective personalised strategies for you and your child. More information about all of these services is available on the website.
Written by Diana David and Dr Kirsty Porter