Lunch Box Ideas


By Lydia Schoonderbeek

1. Tummy fillers

Growing kids need  3 meals per day and 2 snacks to fill them up and give them energy. Nutritious meals packed with fiber, protein, good carbohydrates and vitamins will also help your child’s growing bones and provide a healthy dose of brain power for the afternoon ahead.

These along with fruit and/or vegetables should form the main part of your child’s lunch.

Recipe: Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is nearly always a hit with children and grown-ups alike.

Just boil some pasta – colored pasta seems to appeal to children. Cook around 25g of pasta per child for about 12 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Then throw in your choice of extras from the list below (chopped into bite sized pieces).

Mix in a good dollop of mayonnaise or salad dressing and away you go. For an alternative dressing, mix 2 tbsp tomato ketchup (or puree) with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp white vinegar.

  • Tinned sweetcorn
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Tuna
  • Cheese
  • Spring onion
  • Raw mushrooms
  • Tinned kidney beans
  • Tinned chick peas
  • Boiled egg
  • Sausages
  • Peppers
  • Grated carrot
  • Salami
  • Olives


Variations:Substitute pasta with rice. Add some black pepper and chopped fresh (or dried) herbs for extra flavor.

2. Five-a-day options

• Any combination of the following, in a small pot or bag: raisins, sultanas, ready to eat dried apricots, dates or prunes.

• Whole fruits – Tangerines, apple, banana, pear, peach, plum, grapes, strawberries (whatever is in season).

• Fruit salad pot – any combination of prepared fruit: strawberries, orange, melon, mango, pineapple, kiwi etc.

• Fruit jelly made with fruit pieces and pure fruit juice.


3. Good for growing bones

• Fruit yogurt

• Cold rice pudding or custard.

• Cubes of cheese or pre-packed lunchbox sized cheese portion, cottage cheese with pineapple.

• Dips: hummus, cream cheese and plain yogurt.


4. Snacks

If you have energetic kids, you may like to add a snack to their lunchboxes to re-fuel their energy levels!

• Savory options – Hard boiled eggs, mini sausages, or falafel.

• Small bag of lower salt options, such as whole wheat crackers, crisp bread, rice cakes, cheesy biscuits, bread sticks, unsalted popcorn.

Sweet options -Muffin, cup cake, small piece of cake, biscuit or cookie, flapjack, shortbread, jam tart, cereal bar.


Recipe: Flapjack

• 50g ready to eat dried prunes, chopped

• 50g ready to eat dried apricots, chopped

• 50g raisins or sultanas

• 175g porridge oats

• 50g butter

• 3 tablespoons syrup OR clear honey

• 1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180C/Fan oven 170C Lightly grease a small shallow (approx 9 x 7 inch, 22 x 18cm) baking tin.

Chop the prunes and apricots into small pieces. Put the prunes, apricots, raisins or sultanas and oats into a mixing bowl and stir until evenly mixed. In a small saucepan melt the butter with the syrup/honey, and then add to the fruit and oats, and mix well.

Beat the egg, and when the fruit & oat mixture has cooled slightly, add this to the mixture. Turn the mixture into the greased tin and level the surface.

Bake for 15-20 mins until a pale golden brown. Leave in the tin until almost cold and then score into fingers with a sharp knife, and loosen around the edges. Remove from the tin to finish cooling on a wire rack. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week and are suitable for freezing.


Variation: Use any combination of chopped dried fruit.

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