Lunch box ideas for hot days

12 February, 2021

Win at back to school with cool lunch box ideas 

Kids might be back to school across Sydney, but let’s face it – summer’s still in full swing in February. It’s hot, humid and sticky. So it’s important to ensure you’re packing your A-game with lunch boxes, with cool foods to keep the kids nourished, hydrated and ready to learn.

Safety first

We probably don’t need to tell you this, but a hot lunch box is prime breeding ground for all sorts of nasty bugs. Especially if your school has the kids keeping their lunch boxes outside in tubs or hooks, often in the sun. Coming home with a tummy bug due to their lunch box becoming a bacterial breeding ground? That’s a firm ‘no, thank you,’ right?

A back to school essential for Sydney kids is an insulated lunch bag, ideally with an ice pack or two to help keep everything at a safe temperature to prevent bacteria thriving. Last year’s lunch box looking worse for wear? Check out Zap Variety for a range of affordable lunch box options.

Make friends with your freezer

Another great tip is to embrace your freezer to help make packing lunch boxes a breeze. Some of our favourite strategies include:

  • Save money and packaging waste by buying yogurt in bulk then freezing in reusable containers (you can even get washable ‘squeezy’ pouches for kids that prefer those). Fill them up, freeze and after a few hours at room temperature, they’ll be just right for your kid to enjoy.
  • Get your bake on and fill your freezer with tasty muffins, slices and more. Heaps healthier than packaged options, and not as time consuming as you might think. One weekend afternoon baking session can be enough to fill your freezer for several weeks. (Or even the whole term if you’re super organised!)
  • Bake up a batch of scrolls (eg cheesymite or ham and cheese, but you can experiment based on your child’s preferences) and grab from the freezer instead of making a sandwich.
  • OK, this one’s a bit controversial and we’re on the fence about it ourselves, but it’s even possible to make up sandwiches in advance and freeze them ready to grab and go. It’s best to stick with simple options. (No salad sandwiches – can you imagine defrosted lettuce? Yuck!)
  • Cool down fruit break with a bunch of frozen grapes, pineapple rings or orange wedges. Pack them in an insulated tub to keep them frozen for longer.
  • And don’t forget the drinks, like a reusable plastic water bottle or a pure juice popper, or even a carton of milk. Send it frozen and it will help to keep food cool as well as providing a much-needed cool refreshment on hot days.

Think beyond the sandwich

Who says lunch has to be a sandwich? If your child isn’t impressed with soggy bread, salads can be a great way to keep them nourished at school. Plus with veggies naturally containing plenty of water, it’s a good way to help stay hydrated when the temperature is soaring. 

Other ideas include:

  • Veggie sticks and crackers with dip
  • Cold chicken nuggets (home made for bonus points) 
  • Mini quiches
  • Meatballs
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Corn on the cob
  • Whizz up a smoothie and send it in an insulated drink bottle like this one from Japan Home Centre.

Another idea if your kids are finding it too hot to eat at school is to fill their boots with a nutrition-dense cooked breakfast and keep it simple at lunch with plenty of cut up fruit and maybe some cheese and crackers. With a solid breakfast and good dinner bookending the day, they’ll be fine. Look at the day as a big picture rather than getting hung up on lunch.