What parent doesn't break out into a cold sweat on a Sunday evening while hunting for their kids shoes, at the prospect of yet another week of boring school lunch boxes? In fact, if you haven't had sneaky thoughts of ditching the lunch box, and opting for a full year of school dinners, then you're made of sterner stuff than most!
We all know from the numerous parenting tips we've read that packing a nutritious lunch is essential for healthy growth and development, not to mention keeping a grumbling tummy under control so they can concentrate on their lessons.
However, creating ingenious lunch goodies that are both healthy and creative enough to entice your little one to munch on can seem like a challenge only Superman can perform.
If lunch boxes leave you scratching your head wondering what to pack, this article is for you!
6 Creative Lunch Box Ideas for Kids
Here are six creative lunch box ideas every busy parent should have in their school lunch arsenal!
- Rainbow veggie wrap - Spread hummus on a whole wheat wrap, add colorful vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, and top with feta cheese.
- Turkey sandwich - Make a delicious turkey sandwich by layering turkey slices between two slices of wholegrain bread. Add some lettuce, tomato, and avocado for added flavor and nutrition.
- Mini muffins - Preheat the oven to 350°F and line the tin with parchment paper. Crack eggs into the cups and add veggies, herbs, and cheese for flavor. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the eggs are cooked.
- Variety box – crackers and cheese, cherry tomatoes and baby cucumber slices, vegemite sandwich, and a small portion of unsalted popcorn.
- Fruity surprise box – Kiwi fruit and raspberries, mini chocolate-chip muffin, cheese cubes, and a small portion of Mac n Cheese (leftovers from dinner) with slices of ham.
- Deluxe lunch box – Ham, cheese and lettuce sandwich triangles, carrot sticks, wholegrain rice cakes with mashed avocado dip, blueberries, and raspberries sprinkled with white chocolate chips.
10 Parent Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch Box
- Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your child's lunchbox - aim for various colors to get different vitamins and minerals into their diet.
- Opt for lean proteins like chicken, turkey, or fish instead of processed meats.
- Use wholegrain bread, wraps, or pitas as the base for sandwiches or salads.
- Pack unsweetened yogurt with some fruit for a healthy snack.
- Incorporate plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and quinoa into your child's lunchbox for an extra boost of nutrition.
- Add some crunch with whole grain crackers or popcorn as an alternative to potato chips.
- Skip processed snacks like cookies, candy bars, and chips - opt for healthier alternatives like fruits and veggies instead.
- Pack water or unsweetened drinks so your child can stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Use leftovers! Cook a little extra dinner and add them to your lunch boxes; they make an easy lunch box option!
- Prepare, prepare! Busy school mornings aren't the best time to start creating healthy lunch boxes. Instead, pack lunches the night before; that way, your kids can get involved (positive parenting win!), and it gives you time to create a balanced and nutritious lunch – move over, Superman, you have competition!
Ingredients to Avoid When Crafting the Perfect Lunch Box
- Processed meats like salami or ham
- Sweetened yogurts/desserts
- Sugary fruits snacks or dried fruit
- Packaged crackers and chips with added flavorings or seasonings
Unfortunately, these items can contain high levels of salt and sugar, which if eaten in excess can be detrimental to your child's health. Check out this interesting article on reducing your family's added sugar intake.
The Final Crumb
When it comes to creating tasty school lunches, preparation is key. Spending ten minutes on the weekend planning your lunch box ideas for the next week will save time worrying about what to pack.
One of our best and final parent tips is to purchase a lunch box with multiple sections in which to pop bright, fun, and healthy finger-sized nibbles. This will entice your little one to enjoy the healthy goodies you pack and make adding a variety of tasty morsels easier.