Lunchbox tips, tricks and recipes!
Many families are contacting us asking for lunchbox advice for the new term. Lots of schools and nurseries are not offering school dinners in September due to coronavirus concerns so some families may be facing this challenge for the first time.
I’ve always opted to make packed lunches for my little cook to ensure he gets nutritionally-rich lunches every day. It doesn’t have to be daunting, it can be fun and even a way to get your child involved in preparing food. Here are my favourite tricks, tips and some recipe ideas!
- Choose a fun lunchbox!
Long gone are my school days when my mum would send me off with a zip bag filled with a sandwich (wrapped in clingfilm), an apple and a packet of crisps!
Children need nutrients from a variety of food, so lunchboxes which have separate compartments (bento box style) will immediately make the contents more interesting, more varied and cut plastic use in half! Having compartments to fill means you can include things like grapes, cucumber batons, even a boiled egg, without the worry of it getting bashed, making a mess or needing to wrap it all up individually.
Here are our top picks of lunchboxes:
- YUMBOX – we’ve had ours for 4 years and it’s still going strong. Make sure you choose the larger size as the small ones are more for snacks!
- Sistema – less expensive than yumboxes but still a great choice of lunchbox
- Mepal bento box – another great priced lunchbox that will help make packing in the mornings easier!
- Yumi V – a little bit smaller but still big enough and the cutlery set on the top is very useful
- And don’t forget the trusty thermos if your child likes soup, or even for pasta and sauce to keep it warm for them on the cold winter days
- Involve your child in choosing what they want to eat
The psychology is simple – if they choose what goes in their lunchbox they are more likely to eat it! Look through a recipe book, or show them the recipes on our website – it can be a great fun activity to do at the weekend, preparing a recipe together ready for the week ahead.
Challenge them to eat a rainbow in their lunchbox every day – ask them to choose what food they want to make it from.
There are also lots of fun accessories you can buy to make lunchboxes more fun – Stix to make little kebabs, sandwich cutters and there are lots of lovely lunchbox notes which are fun for kids to open up and read every day!
- Easy lunchbox recipe ideas
Lunchboxes should be more than sandwiches! In fact a completely nutritious lunchbox doesn’t have to include sandwiches at all! Some quick ideas we use are:
- Boiled eggs
- Pesto pasta – you can buy very cool pastas now made from chickpeas, lentils, peas…available in most supermarkets and it makes each mouthful that bit more nutritious and make your own pesto!
- Make more dinner than you need – leftover rice-based dishes, meatballs, lasagna, Bolognese, fish, meat…it can all go into lunchboxes the next day!
- Salmon chunks – leftovers or you can buy ready to eat salmon steaks
- Chicken strips – as above!
- Batons and dip – cucumber, carrots, peppers, cherry tomatoes etc and you can make your own super quick dip with Greek yogurt, mint and a squeeze of lemon
- Fruit! Berries, mango, melon, let your kids decide!
- Make little kebabs with chunks of chicken and veggies, or maybe cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls
- Popcorn – making your own is soooo fun to do with kids and saves lots of dosh!
- If making sandwiches choose wholegrain, or ideally sourdough bread – and mix it up with pitta breads, wraps and oatcakes
We also put together 10 of our favourite lunchbox recipes here
- Keep them hydrated
Choose a good reusable water bottle and make sure it is at least 500ml. It will also help you keep an eye on how much they are drinking! We also love the infuser bottles which you can add herbs, cucumber and fruits into to help naturally flavour the water and make it a bit more interesting for kids. Our favourite combination at the moment is strawberries, mint and cucumber!
As a guide kids should be drinking:
- 5 glasses (1 litre) for 4 to 8 year olds
- 7 glasses (1.5 litres) for 9 to 12 year olds
- 8 to 10 glasses (2 litres) for 13+ years
- Be prepared and don’t panic!
Although we know its sometimes easier said than done, when opportunity allows, prepare the lunchbox the night before. There is nothing more stressful than trying to prepare breakfast and lunch at the same time, while juggling children, school uniforms and remembering sports kits! The new term will feel challenging for many of us so give yourself the time to prepare – you won’t regret it!