The search for new, healthy lunchbox ideas seems never-ending. You want foods that are quick and easy, yet you also want to ensure your child is getting the correct balance of nutrients. Here, I want to help you by giving you some of my all-time favourite lunchbox ideas within each food group. It is important to understand the health benefits of each group, and then have some foolproof, tasty recipes in each category to rely on. Once you have this knowledge, and you are doing some simple meal prep, then you can enjoy the mornings without the daily stress. Let this guide provide you with some inspiration!
The largest and most filling aspect of your child's lunch box, this food group is made up of starchy foods such as breads and pastas. As with everything on your lunch plan, using a variety of foods is more beneficial so be wary of not using the same bread or pasta every single time. Pitas, wraps, spaghetti - there are so many yummy options to pack. Another top tip for maximising the health benefits is to use whole-grain carbohydrates. These are packed with fibre, which makes them healthier than their white counterparts. If your child is reluctant to eat wholegrain foods, a great compromise is to use the method of half and half. For example, in a pasta dish make sure that half is wholegrain and half is white. Therefore, your little one is becoming familiar with the wholegrain taste and texture, without being overwhelmed by a purely wholegrain meal. Here are some of my favourites carbohydrates to pack:
No child can resist this deliciously creamy sauce. A warm, filling treat, this classic not only gets a great reaction at the dinner table, but causes excitement at school too! Despite its reputation as a seriously heavy meal, my version is much lighter and is packed with cheesy goodness and nutritious veggies.
This a lovely twist on the school sandwich. Children love wraps and finger food, so this crispy tortilla will go down a storm. It is a firm favourite in my home, and it only takes a mere twenty minutes to make! Serve it the night before and keep some aside to pack the next morning.
Meals don't come much simpler to make than pasta with pesto. I cannot recommend having delicious, homemade pesto available enough. Simply cook some pasta and swirl in your child's favourite pesto for a tasty and nutritious lunch in a pinch. Pesto is also a great way of getting greens into your child, such as kale, without them even noticing.
Protein is so important for children, as its essential for their muscle, bone and skin. Not to mention that it fuels them up with the energy they need to tackle the school day. When we think about protein, often our mind immediately goes to heavy foods like red meat. However, protein can come from so many sources. Cheeses, yogurts, nut butters - these are all great options! Here are some of my favourites.
Eggs are a wonderful source of protein, and these omelette fingers are a great way of getting them into lunchbox. By cutting them into fun finger shapes, your little one will find eating this a much more fun and interactive experience.
What child doesn't love biscuits? These treats only contain three ingredients - peanut butter, honey and egg. Nut Butters are a fantastic way of upping your child's protein intake, and most children adore the taste. The biscuit form will definitely entice your little one, and this will be a go-to favourite in no time.
Yogurt is many a mum's preferred snack to pack in a lunchbox. However, there can be an unfortunate amount of hidden sugars in fruit yogurts. The best solution, in my opinion, is to make your own using natural yogurt. This recipe is so simple to make, and the plum and the ginger make for a very tasty combination. Pack some granola for your child to add so that a simple snack turns into a sensory experience.
Fruit and Vegetables
It is so important that your child gets enough portions of fruit and vegetables. However, this can also be the area where children can start to be most fussy. The texture, the colour - many aspects of produce can put a child off. It is vital that they eventually learn that these foods are actually not scary at all. Even simple things like changing the shape of the vegetables or adding a dip can make the experience more fun and less frightening. For example, carrots do not seem as daunting when cut into sticks and paired with hummus as an interactive snack. Here are some fantastic recipes to familiarise them with fruit and veg and hopefully help them to overcome any pickiness.
The majority of children are crazy for crisps, so this format can be a really beneficial way to get them used to vegetables. Just make sure the veggies are cut extremely thin to avoid sogginess and to mimic the crunchy texture of their favourite potato crisps.
Sometimes the best way to up the veggie intake of a fussy eater is to sneak them into other snacks. These scones are just the thing. The gorgeously cheesy taste will entice them to try, and the carrot and courgette will not overpower the flavour. A truly yummy treat packed with nutrients and health benefits.
Soups that are filled to the brim with vegetables are the perfect way to up a child's nutrient intake. It allows you to control the texture, so you can blend until no lumps are found. This particular soup is packed with amazingly healthy foods, like celery and carrot.
I hope that this list has inspired you when packing a balanced lunch box! There are so many yummy ideas that can be tried, all it requires is a little bit of organisation and meal prep.
The Mummy Cooks Lunch Set contains twenty pots in four different sizes, everything you need to get you through the school week!