Fight term 4 lunchbox fatigue

13 November, 2020

Summer lunchbox ideas to finish the year strong

Packing lunches is a daily chore that can start to get even the most enthusiastic of parents worn out as the last weeks of the school year roll around. But with the foods our kids eat at school contributing about a third of their daily nutritional intake, it’s worth digging deep to find some new ideas.
Healthy Kids Association, a non-profit health promotion charity promoting healthy food choices for children, recommends a simple formula for a balanced lunchbox – the core 4 + 1. This formula is:

  • Main lunch
  • Core snack
  • A seasonal piece of fruit
  • Water with an additional small reduced fat milk drink or 99% fruit juice (less than 200ml serve)
  • + 1 extra snack for active kids

Substance beyond sandwiches

We love a sandwich. But by the end of the school year, if your kids are existing almost exclusively on Vegemite sandwiches that even you’re bored of making, we’ve got some easy ideas for mixing it up. And the good news is that with a teensy tiny bit of organisation, some of these ideas can even make the daily lunchbox pack easier!

  • A freezer full of scrolls: Making your own cheese and Vegemite or other scrolls (pizza- style scrolls with tomato paste, ham and cheese – and maybe even some spinach if you are feeling daring – are a big hit) isn’t as hard as you might think. Bake up a batch at the weekend, pop them in the freezer, then it’s a simple matter of putting one in a lunchbox in the morning to defrost in time for lunch.
  • Pasta-bilities: The possibilities of pasta provide plenty of options for lunchboxes. Cook up extra when you’re making dinner and lunch the next day can be taken care of with
    leftovers, or mix some pasta through salad veggies for a nutritious and nourishing meal. Great to pair with some meatballs too!
  • Eggs-cellent energy: Eggs are a great source of protein for busy kids. You can keep it simple with a hard boiled egg and some veggie sticks, or bake up a frittata to keep those tummies satisfied. A great idea is to make individual frittatas using silicone muffin cases, and once again these can be frozen for an easy grab-and-go option for busy mornings.
  • Roll up, roll up: Rolls and wraps are a great option for kids, whether it’s the simplicity of a wrap simply rolled up with ham and cheese, or something more complex like homemade sausage rolls, a kinda-Vietnamese rice paper roll with salad, or a quesadilla.

Snacks beyond the packs

There’s no denying the convenience of packaged snack foods. But, let’s be honest, they’re often not the healthiest choice for kids and they’re not that great for the old hip pocket either. Some alternative snack ideas that you can go for include:

  • Veggie sticks with dip like hummus is a great way to get some of your kid’s 5-a-day happening, and if you chop some extra veg when doing dinner prep that can make lunchbox packing a breeze
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Instead of the packaging waste of squeezy yoghurts, get some small reusable pots and fill yourself from a bulk tub of yoghurt – it’s a great idea to freeze these too for staying
    cool in the Sydney sun
  • Chopped and frozen fruit – watermelon, pineapple, orange wedges, grapes and more are all fun options that freeze well and are healthier than sugary ice blocks
  • Cook your own popcorn – make a batch on Sunday and it will keep in an airtight container for the week
  • Home-made muffins, pikelets, biscuits and other treats can be a better choice than store-bought, especially when you keep an eye on the sugar quantities and experiment with healthier recipes.

What are some of your kids’ favourite lunchbox options and do you have any tips for streamlining the daily lunchbox pack?