With two kids, we understand the relentless and tedious job of preparing school lunchboxes. But preparing a delicious, healthy and balanced lunchbox doesn’t have to be time-consuming.
This article features our favourite lunchbox ideas, as well as time-saving tips and tricks to help you assemble a delicious lunchbox in no-time.
So, what’s the secret? We mix freshly made produce with freezer basics and leftovers to make our life easier. If you’re ready for some lunchbox inspiration that your kids will love, this article’s for you!
FRESHLY PREPARED PRODUCE IN A FLASH
Sometimes, preparation pays off. In just a few minutes, you can assemble super-healthy and mega-delicious fresh food that will nourish your little ones. Here are some of our favourites.
• Sushi – We make a small batch of one-flavour sushi that lasts for two days. Complete with a mini bottle of soy sauce, we rarely see any come home.
• Cold rolls – We love cold rolls for dinner, but they make a great lunchbox snack too. As they dry out quickly, we recommend eating the next day only. We use hoisin for the dipping sauce, but peanut sauce at home. For an even healthier option, consider dropping the noodles and including shredded iceberg lettuce and grated carrot as the primary filling instead. It’s delicious!
• Wraps – A traditional wrap is always a winner, but you can also try mountain bread wraps thinly spread with hummus, crushed falafel or cauliflower fritters (Let Them Eat of course!), grated carrot and cheese, fine iceberg lettuce and egg mayo. Just be aware that whole egg or egg mayonnaise can be a food poisoning risk if it’s not kept at a cooler temperature. Our kids also love it when we cut wraps into ‘pin wheels’ for smaller bite-sized snacks.
• Pasta salad – We have a few pasta salad options depending on daily tastebud preferences. We’d recommend trying a tomato base (for example a good quality pasta sauce) with olives, or pesto (nut-free) with broccolini. Our kids also love the Let Them Eat risoni, preserved lemon and mint salad or the Middle Eastern cracked wheat salad which are great lunchbox fillers.
• Grazing plate – Kids love variety, and this is a great (and easy) way to prepare food. Whether it’s a bento box, or finger-food based lunch, we love a grazing plate that includes cheese cubes, boiled egg, cucumber, baby tomatoes, carrot sticks, dip (our pumpkin dip is a favourite with our kids), crackers, falafel, olives and deli (or other) meats.
FREEZER STAPLES YOU’LL LOVE
Sometimes we have no time, energy or lunchbox inspiration. In these instances, reaching for pre-ready freezer staples is key. Here’s a few of our favourites.
• Savoury muffins – Our kids love our savoury muffins. The base recipe uses pureed pumpkin, half wholemeal, half normal flour, with lots of cheese. Although this recipe can be a bit dry (more like a scone) it’s a great base that freezes well and our son loves them! I sneak in grated veg, corn kernels or feta for extra bite.
• Zucchini slice – It’s old-school but a winner! I make it, then cut it into cubes for the lunchbox. When making a zucchini slide, always make sure you cook out the onion (and bacon if you use it) before adding to the mix. It adds a deeper, more mellow flavour that is still delicious once defrosted.
• Scrolls – These are a little more advanced than muffins or slice, but our kids love them. In our house we make a yeast dough that’s either a cheesy-mite or pizza flavoured. Yum!
• ‘Sausage’ rolls – A traditional sausage roll is a thing of joy, but we also love a vegan sausage roll option. Our tip is to cook them from frozen in the morning, so they are ‘fresher’ at lunch. When making them from scratch, we don’t cook them but freeze them on trays, and then move them into small bags. This way we only defrost and cook a serve or two at a time.
• Fritters – Our kids love Let Them Eat sweetcorn and feta fritters. Just one fritter is a full lunch for a small person. Not only are they a quick and easy option, but they also freeze well.
GOTTA LOVE LUNCHBOX LEFTOVERS
Around one lunch per week is leftovers from the night before – and I feel good that my kids can enjoy a cooked lunch. Our regular is pasta or mornay. We have bulk pasta sauce frozen in the freezer that’s enough for dinner and then lunch for the kids the next day. It’s a quick and easy meal that we can throw together on the nights we get home late – usually due to school activities or sports training.
NOW FOR THE SWEET STUFF
Kids love a sweet treat in their lunchboxes and here are a few of our tried and tested favourites.
• Banana bread – Let Them Eat banana bread of course! Hot tip: you can purchase a banana bread loaf via pre-order with Let Them Eat! A loaf allows you to slice into lunchbox sized squares and freeze. I pull it out by the slice, and it defrosts by the time they’re ready to eat it.
• Freezer cookies – there are heaps of recipes online for healthy cookies. Simply pop them in the freezer and grab as you go.
• Other sweets – We also love sweet muffins and upside-down fruit cakes for lunchbox fillers. Mmmmm….
We hope these ideas will transform your lunchboxes from mundane to mouth-watering. May your lunchboxes return home empty every day! (We can only hope!)