My son Oliver, 6 takes a lunchbox to school every day and like all parents, I want to provide him with a tasty, filling and importantly, healthy lunch to help fuel him throughout the day.
Here are 5 lunchbox ideas for each day of the school week that are quick, convenient, easy, healthy and low-cost too. For those with more time, I’ve included a couple of my favourite easy recipes for you to try out – great for your own lunchboxes too!
I’ve worked closely with nutritionist Claire Basely to make sure these meals give kids that nutritional balance – AND something they actually want to eat!
I hope it gives you some lunchbox inspiration so your kids can enjoy vibrant, delicious lunches. They also work well on day trips out and picnics, ensuring the kids stay full and content.
● Tuna, sweetcorn and mayo sandwich on wholemeal bread
● Hummus with carrot sticks
● Chopped apple and black grapes (top tip – to keep the apple from browning a little squeeze of lemon juice will help).
● Hartley’s No Added Sugar Strawberry Jelly Pot.
Nutrition fact: tuna is a great source of protein to help little bones and muscle to grow.
● Pitta bread ‘pizzas’ spread with tomato puree and sprinkled with cheddar cheese and 1-2 sliced olives, grilled the night before and cut into wedges. You can alternate toppings adding chicken, ham, sweetcorn etc. I used to make these with my brother as a kid and remember the fun we had creating our own personalised pitta pizzas. I like to toast them lightly first before putting under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese melts.
● Red and yellow peppers.
● Chopped and de-seeded watermelon.
● Greek yoghurt with a drizzle of honey.
Nutrition fact: peppers are a source of vitamin C which can help support little ones’ immune systems.
● Brown pasta salad with chopped tomato and olive oil.
● A boiled egg.
● Sliced cherries.
● Hartley’s No Added Sugar Blackcurrant Jelly Pot
Nutrition fact: wholegrain foods like brown pasta are rich in fibre and some of the B vitamins like thiamine and vitamin B6 – these help to release energy from food.
● Sliced chicken, a little mayo and lettuce corn tortillas.
● Homemade coleslaw (I make mine with Greek yoghurt and mayo and the kids love it. Recipe HERE).
● Homemade gluten-free oat and coconut cookies (recipe here: https://honestmum.com/healthy- quick- and-simple- oat-and- coconut-cookies/) but I omitted seeds in this one as my kids prefer them without!
● Chopped strawberries.
● Plain yoghurt with fresh fruit e.g. the blueberries left overnight in yoghurt sweeten and turn it purple without any added sugar.
Nutrition fact: oats are a good source of manganese which can help little ones to release the energy from the food they eat.
● A lentil and bean salad with sweetcorn and ham.
● Buttered rye crackers and slice of Edam cheese
● A banana.
● Sliced cucumbers.
● Hartley’s No Added Sugar Apple Jelly Pot.
Nutrition fact: cheese is a good source of calcium which helps to keep little bones growing properly.
MY TOP 10 LUNCHBOX TIPS
1. Get your kids involved with creating their lunch boxes from the shopping stage, asking them which ingredients and products they want for the week ahead.
2. Prepare what you can the night before. I like to pack the lunchbox and keep it in the fridge as I know the mornings can be a rush. Perishable items such as dairy products must be kept cool and consumed within 4 hours of preparation. Always cool these in the fridge overnight before adding to the lunchbox.
3. Place an ice pack in the lunch box to keep food cold and fresh. Not all schools have fridges for lunch boxes.
4. Always ensure children are hydrated with water and give them a full water bottle each day and a carton of semi-skimmed milk too.
5. Shop seasonally when it comes to fruit and veg, for instance, soft fruit like strawberries in the spring and summer and satsumas and fresh dates (de-stoned) in winter.
6. Keep bread in the fridge to keep it fresh for longer.
7. Vary the starchy carbohydrates you offer opting for wholegrain bread, pitta, crackers, wheat-free options, rice cakes, tortillas, pasta, potato or rice salads and savoury muffins.
8. Always chop and de-seed items that could be a choking hazard including grapes, olives, apples etc.
9. Watch high-sugar content snacks like raisins and chocolate bars.
10. Don’t forget a napkin or wet wipe to keep those hands clean!
This is a collaborative post commissioned by Hartley’s.