Coming up with varied packed lunch ideas day after day can be a challenging task for all parents – even if your children aren’t particularly fussy! Endless demands of chocolate, crisps, or the currently trending ‘cool’ snacks that are doing the rounds in the playground, can be hard to say no to but packing the lunchboxes full of nothing but plain fruit and veg is never going to be a recipe for success.
Sometimes the key to having your children enjoy a healthy lunchbox is the fun factor. Getting your children involved in the making process can really help too as they’ll be more inclined to eat what they’ve helped to create. We’ve whipped up some simple, tasty ideas to help your little ones become the envy of the lunch table.
Monday: Easy pasta salad and fruit kebabs
Start the week with a carb-filled pasta salad which you can vary from week to week by adding different vegetables, sauces and flavours. Pasta salads are simple to prepare the night before, or at the weekend, and you can easily omit specific ingredients from one lunchbox and not the other to suit different taste buds. Try making a pizza pasta salad by using some chicken, pepperoni, olives, red peppers and tomato.
Include some colourful fruit kebabs on the side using cocktail sticks for older kids, or just line up fruit pieces like a rainbow for little ones, to make eating fruit fun!
Tuesday: Ploughman’s Lunchbox
Although this one takes a bit of preparation it’s still quick and easy as it’s just a case of wrapping things up individually. Take some chunks of cheese, a selection of crackers, a couple of tablespoons of chutney or pickle, some baby tomatoes, lettuce and some grated carrot to make a fun, finger-food lunch that they can assemble themselves.
Popcorn makes a light snack to go alongside. Try drizzling over a small amount of melted chocolate and leaving to set the night before for an extra treat.
Wednesday: Lemon, garlic & mint bean dip with vegetable dippers
Help them get their 5-a-day by lunchtime by making a bean dip and serving with some vegetable dippers. Mix together some butterbeans, lemon juice, garlic and mint with 1tbsp of olive oil and 1tbsp of water and serve with a selection of their favourite crunchy vegetables.
Accompany with some homemade flapjacks with fruit and seeds – quick and easy to make, will last for a long time if kept properly and are packed full of slow release energy to keep their attention level high until home time.
Thursday: Fun-shaped sandwiches with sweet potato crisps
Put a twist on the classic sandwich by investing in some shape cutters to make them more appealing. Perhaps you could use cutters that are related to what they’re learning about in school or just their favourite shapes or animals. Fillings could include a tuna and sweetcorn salad, cheese and apple or how about chicken and avocado? Mix up your sandwiches by making wraps instead or you could even make a double-decker sandwich by using three slices of bread – an exciting sandwich for the kids and an extra chance to add in more goodness for the parents.
Accompany with a healthy alternative to crisps without losing the crisp factor! Roast some thin slices of sweet potato drizzled with olive oil for 20 minutes or until crisp. Keep in mind you won’t need as much on the side to accompany the bigger sandwich!
Friday: Cornflake covered chicken nuggets with dip and a fruity yoghurt and granola sundae
Turn Friday into fun-day with another twist on a classic. Crush the cornflakes by putting them in a food bag and rolling over with a rolling pin before adding flour to one bowl and eggs to a second, seasoned with salt and pepper. Dip small chunks of chicken into the flour, then the beaten egg and finally into the crushed cornflakes before baking in the oven for around 25 minutes at 200C. Serve with a salsa dip and some cherry tomatoes.
Finish with a yoghurt and granola fruit sundae for a delicious end of the week treat. Simply place your chosen fruit in the bottom of a round, clear tub, add your yoghurt and top with granola and some berries for a show-stopping Friday finale!
Words: Jake Tucker