Lunchbox Inspiration

As weeks and weeks of school lunches hang over us at the start of the  school term, it’s easy to turn to tried and true favourites and easy spreads.

But with a little effort and a bit of inspiration, you can make your kid’s lunches  less monotonous for you and a lot more exciting for them.

Who knows, they might even come home with empty lunchboxes. Now wouldn’t that be a miracle?

School children need:

  • At least three servings of vegetables and two of fruit per day
  • At least five servings of breads and cereals per day (e.g., one medium slice of bread, one roll, one cup of pasta)
  • At least one serving of lean meats, chicken, seafood, eggs, dried beans, peas and legumes (protein) per day (e.g., one egg, two slices of cooked meat, two chicken drumsticks)
  • At least two or three servings of dairy products per day (e.g., two slices of cheese, one pottle of yogurt)


  • Great protein – Frozen yogurt, nuts, cheese and bacon scones, eggs, tinned tuna, cheese slices, hummus
  • Great fruit and vegetables -Dried fruit or leathers, frozen fruit puree, fresh pieces cut and kept cool, tubs of preserved fruit, frozen grapes, melon cubes, small salads, carrot sticks, celery and cottage cheese sticks
  • Great carb ideas-sushi, sammies, pasta, potato kebabs, crackers, rice salad, wraps, toasted muffins, crumpets, rice cakes, fruit bread, scones. Remember, wholemeal and wholegrains are best for releasing energy slowly throughout the day and keeping your child feeling fuller for longer

Rather than one big sandwich and a whole piece of fruit, try tempting your child with lots of small packages of different things.

Lunchbox fillers

Rather than one big sandwich and a whole piece of fruit, try tempting your child with lots of small packages of different things.

Cut sandwiches into smaller portions, cut up fruit and wrap them individually to prevent browning or try mini-containers of grapes (frozen are nice), melon cubes, raisins or cranberries, for example.

  1. Sushi is super-easy to make these days and makes great finger food in a lunchbox. Just purchase a plastic sushi maker from the local Asian grocery shop and pack the cooked rice into it, along with a filling and then simply wrap the seaweed around the ready-made roll.
  2. Dried fruit and fruit bars are a great alternative to soggy or bruised fresh fruit or high-fat, high-sugar, highly processed muesli bars. You can also purchase dried veggie bars and fibre fruit bars, as a tasty way to get added fibre and vitamins into your child’s diet.
  3. Fruit can also come in other guises such as fruit purees or fruit in jelly. You can even freeze the fruit puree which can then defrost throughout the morning, leaving it cold but just right to eat at lunchtime. There are also pure fruit sorbets available in the tinned fruit section of the supermarket that can also be frozen and eaten later.
  4. Cut sandwiches into interesting shapes using a cookie cutter or try the new Sandwich Pie cutter to keep bigger fillings inside the sandwich.
  5. Make mini foods such as mini muffins, mini quiches, mini cheese and veg tartlets, and meatballs.
  6. Cold cooked rice, tossed with chopped celery, sultanas, orange segments, capsicum and some French dressing makes a nice change from sandwiches.
  7. Use wraps or pita bread filled with grated salad ingredients as a change from your usual sandwich bread. Or spread a little vegemite or pizza sauce on a pita bread with some mozzarella cheese and put under the grill to melt.
  8. Create a triple-decker effect using brown and white bread and fill with ham, cream cheese and lettuce. Slice into fingers and pack on their sides so your child can see the layers.
  9. Make sliced bread into ‘rolls’ by removing crusts and flattening slightly. Use a thin spread like vegemite or cream cheese and ham and roll up. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, refrigerate until chilled, then slice into rounds about 1cm thick.
  10. Make tasty salads from cold noodles or pasta – just add bite-size bits of any leftover vegetables from last night’s dinner.
  11. Mix chopped leftover cooked potatoes with mayonnaise, spoon into a lettuce leaf with chopped hard-boiled egg, tomato and cress.
  12. Cut up carrot sticks, celery, red pepper and serve with hummus, pita bread and crackers.
  13. Serve cubes of mild cheese with a small bowl of chopped fruit, or even pickled onions if your child has a taste for them.
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