Back to School & many of our kids will be taking a packed lunch as part of the new social distancing guidelines. After 6 months at home, I think we could all use a little inspiration. Here's a roundup of my Top Packed Lunch ideas for Kids, which should keep them full until home-time.
In compiling this list, I've spoken to lots of kids. Many of them said, I shouldn't include any sandwich ideas! In any case, I'm guessing you don't need help with sandwiches. Most importantly, these packed lunch ideas are relatively stress free & can all be prepared the night before. You can even make some in bulk & keep them in the freezer as good standbys. They are also plastic free, which is a big win.
The Main Event
The main bit of the packed lunch is the most challenging. Everything here can be eaten cold, but you can also re-heat these ideas in the microwave for a minute or so on the morning and wrap them in silver foil to keep warm until lunch if you like.
This Basic Tomato Pasta Sauce is a great packed lunch idea and super healthy. I keep single portions of this sauce in the freezer as a standby. Pop it in a Thermos flask, and it will still be warm at lunchtime, or you can eat it cold.
Flatbreads are easy to make and there are loads of different toppings you can use
Sausages & ketchup are great for packed lunches. Cook the sausages the night before. Re-heat the next morning and wrap in foil, or enjoy cold. Don't forget to add a little pot of ketchup to their lunch box.
On the theme of sausages, sausage rolls are also good for packed lunches. Again, you can eat these warm or cold.
Home made soup is lovely on colder days and can be made from a variety of leftovers. If your child is old enough to be allowed a Thermos flask, this is a great lunch to have with a bread roll.
Vegetable Pastys can be made in advance and kept in the freezer. You can eat them hot or cold. Cook them the night before and just re-heat in the microwave if you want them hot. Wrap in silver foil to keep warm.
Easy Welsh Cornish Rarebit made with cheese and egg is perfect for lunch boxes and you can vary the toppings. They're more filling than a sandwich and should keep them going until home time.
Home made quiche is very easy and can be kept in the freezer. You could make a batch and have some on standby. A great packed lunch idea.
Don't forget, any leftovers from last nights dinner can also be used for lunch the next day, which is basically a free lunch and helps to reduce your food waste.
Salads are great sandwich alternatives. Pasta, cous cous and rice are all filling and can be combined with loads of different things. Vegetables such as onions, peppers sweetcorn, peas, mangtout, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olives, baby carrots. Mixed beans and chickpeas are healthy and go well. You could also add some dried apricots or sultanas. Diced cheese such as feta can add lots flavour. Store salads in the fridge overnight.
Instead of crisps, why not try these other healthier, more colourful ideas
Houmous & carrot sticks, pepper sticks, cucumber sticks, celery sticks, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes - all make great additions to packed lunches. Bread sticks with a soft cheese dip also work well.
Something Sweet (ish)
I can't recommend this Tea Loaf enough. You basically soak the ingredients the night before, then just add an egg and flour and pop it in the oven. Plus, it's low in sugar and fat free.
Banana Muffins are brilliant for using up bananas that are past their best and avoiding food waste and a great addition to lunchboxes.
Once you've made these Rice Pudding Pots, you won't go back to shop bought ones. They are healthier and cost only pence to make.
Home made flapjacks are also so much cheaper than shop bought and very quick to make.
No cook Sweet Ideas
Sunflower seeds and sultanas are healthy and great for kids to nibble at.
Natural yoghurt with chopped fruit or honey or granola. Just add chopped fruit to natural yoghurt to sweeten it. If you like you can blitz the fruit before mixing it in. This works particularly well with berries.
A fruit salad! Just chop up pieces of fruit such as apples, grapes, berries, pineapple or any fruit your child enjoys. Bananas don't travel well, but are great for after school.
After School Snacks
Kids usually come out of school 'Starving'. The challenge is finding something to fill them up, but not ruin their appetite before dinner. Try something from the above Something Sweet(ish) list, or one of these
- Toast & butter
- Bread sticks and soft cheese
- Cheese, crackers and grapes
- Bowl of low sugar cereal such as Weetabix, Shreddies, Porridge
If you're looking for ideas for dinner, why not visit the recipe page . You'll find loads of easy, no-fuss family friendly recipes. As a bonus, all the recipes will help you to eat more sustainably, reduce your food waste, food miles and eat with the seasons, which is better for you and the planet.
If you have any other packed lunch ideas, please share in the comments below and good luck with lunches!