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With school age children most parents will become familiar with packed lunches. Even with free school meals on offer until Year 3, there are days when Little Man has to take a packed lunch to school or just prefers the variety that a packed lunch brings. LP is the same, seeing a packed lunch as such a novelty.
But, as parents we have steered away from making packed lunches too often. We would always worry that they’d be boring or not as healthy and balanced as a school meal. Compass Fostering challenged us to come up with three healthy lunchbox ideas that were good value, easy to prepare and nutritious and so I enlisted the help of the children to see if we could create lunchboxes they would happily eat and enjoy without breaking the bank.
Our go-to lunch boxes are always full of sandwiches, bagels or wraps. Then we add a bag of crisps, a piece of fruit and a yogurt. The variety comes in which flavour crisps and whether the children get an apple or a plum! Thanks to Compass Fostering’s inspiration we’ve realised that lunches can be so much more exciting than that with little effort.
- Pasta and Sauce
- Hard Boiled Egg
- Fruit Skewers
Our first lunch box idea had pasta as the main part. Pasta is filling and healthy and something we often have leftover from dinner the night before. Plus, it’s easy to throw a handful more pasta in when cooking to make sure there are leftovers for lunches.
A simple pesto or tomato sauce works really well and the children will happily eat this cold too. You can add fresh tomatoes or other vegetables for some colour and texture and a hard boiled egg adds a portion of protein too. You could substitute the eggs for ham, chicken or cut up sausages too.
We finished off this lunch with a portion of popcorn and some fruit kebabs. Popcorn can be made in batches cheaply at home and is a great healthy alternative to crisps. Kebab sticks make any fruit exciting and you can buy reusable ones to make it an affordable novelty. One or two different fruits can last well through the week.
Pitta and Hummus Lunch
- Pitta Bread
- Veg Sticks
The children love what they call dippy lunches and a box full of toasted pitta and veg sticks that they can dip into a portion of hummus is an ideal lunch for them.
We add a portion of cheese for extra protein and a selection of berries to add some variety. This is a lunch we know that they’ll always be happy to eat and it will feel to them more like grazing than eating one big lunch.
- Crackers, Cheese and Ham
- Veg Crisps
- Cherry Tomatoes
Our last lunch is something the children love – a make your own crackers lunch. Crackers, cheese, ham and tomatoes are a really nice lunch for children and quite exciting too. It’s almost a child’s version of a Ploughman’s lunch and you could vary it depending on your child’s tastes. Chutney, pickles, salad or a chunk of bread could be great options too.
We’ve finished off this lunch with vegetable crisps that can be made cheaply at home with carrots and parsnips and a piece of fruit.
These are just three healthy lunch ideas that you can easily mix up to add even more variety for the children. We always make sure that a lunch box has all the main food groups – with some carbs, some fruit or veg and protein – whilst finding foods the children will happily eat at school and enjoy.
What are your children’s favourite things to have in their lunch boxes at school? I’m always looking for more lunch box inspiration and you can find some more ideas over on the Compass Fostering website too.