The key to the perfect lunchbox is balance. This means that every day your child is getting at least one item from the three main food groups in their lunchbox: carbohydrates, protein, fruit and/or vegetables. Including all food groups also ensures your child gets their fibre intake. You can find lots of healthy recreations of your child's favourites inside my Lunchbox Made Easy book!
In my experience, carbohydrates tend to be the easiest group to encourage your child to eat. Few children object to bread or pasta however they may not like wholemeal versions - particularly in pasta form. If you want to introduce more wholemeal options into your child's diet, a good compromise is the half and half method. Simply use both white and brown pasta when cooking their lunch, and swirl in a tasty sauce such as my Quick Bolognese (who doesn't love bolognese?!) or something as simple as a homemade Tomato Sauce.
Pack these delicious pasta recipes in a food flask to send in with your child for a delicious hot lunch!
Most children are very responsive to bread, so I would take advantage of this to experiment with a variety of types! Check out the bread aisle and take some time exploring all the different types, or better still bake your own breads. You can find a whole section on homemade bread recipes inside the Lunchbox Made Easy book if you're looking for some inspiration.
Try my homemade Mozzarella Pesto Melt for a quick, healthy sandwich you can turn to time and time again!
Protein is essential for healthy muscle, bones, skin and building tissue in our bodies, which is why it is essential that your growing child gets a portion in their lunchbox every day. And don't forget that protein doesn't have to just be meat! Cheese, eggs, yoghurt and beans are all packed with protein and having a wide range of options on hand is a super helpful way of including variety in the school lunch.
Proteins are often really easy to prepare as well! Keep some hard-boiled eggs on hand in the fridge, and pop one into your child's lunchbox during busier days. Omelette fingers are great too, and are a quick option to make from scratch! Pop them in your food flask to keep them lovely and hot until lunchtime.
Fruit and/or Vegetables
After speaking to many parents about what causes the most difficulty when packing their child's lunch, fruit and vegetables seemed to be the most common issue! Please don't panic if you're struggling, as there are many ways to help your child embrace this food group.
You can make a world of difference by simply changing up how you serve fruit and veg! Serve vegetable sticks with you child's favourite dip - this is much more appealing than just chopped vegetables on their own. Cutting colourful produce into circles and squares also looks visually fantastic in a lunchbox. Served with some Coriander and Lime Hummus and you have a super tasty and healthy lunchbox snack!
Sauces are also a great way to pack full of veggies! Simple recipes such as my Marinara Sauce contain loads of amazing superfoods, such as tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower and butternut squash, blended to a super smooth consistency. Similarly, pesto is always a hit with children and are great as a sandwich spread! Try my Basil & Courgette Pesto for a deliciously creamy sauce.
In regards to all three food groups, make sure to try and avoid packing the same options every day. This can get very boring for your child and may cause them to reject that certain food in the future (also known as food jagging). Try and have six or seven different forms in rotation to keep lunchtimes interesting. For example, fruit like oranges and apples come in many forms. A big, juicy orange cut into segments is very different to a compact mandarin orange. Or you can change up a sandwich by serving it as a pinwheel, or even fashioning a fun sandwich kebab! Little details like this make the lunchbox colourful and enticing.