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Lunch box ideas

packed lunches

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Lunch box ideas are so much easier to come up with during the school holidays. A cheese sandwich can be made more exciting by eating it in the garden or the park, while access to the cooker at home opens up a wide range of hot meal options.

However, when faced with coming up with a week’s worth of lunches that your kids will enjoy eating at school and will stay fresh when packed in a lunch box all morning, interesting ideas can be a little more difficult to come by. Nobody wants to eat the same things day after day, children included, but while you may strive to mix things up a little sometimes packed lunches can become a little… well, stale.

What should I include?

Before you get down to planning exactly what to put in a child’s lunch box, there are some things to consider. Firstly, a lunch box designed to keep food cool will open up an array of options for filling it with.

Learning, playing and socialising (not to mention developing and growing!) all day means children need a good source of energy to see them through the afternoon. A healthy and nutritious packed lunch box should ideally include items from all the major food groups.

Carbohydrates such as bread or pasta help maintain energy levels and should form a large part of a lunch box. Choose wholegrain options for added fibre and mix it up a little by swapping sandwiches for wraps, pittas or pastas.

Protein can be found in cooked meats, fish and eggs, which all make great sandwich fillers, and also in beans and pulses, which could be added to pasta salads.

Like adults, kids should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Adding a banana or apple to a lunch box helps meet this target as well as filling children up.

Kids also need the calcium found in dairy products to keep their bones nice and strong. However, dairy products can be high in fat so try to choose lighter options such as low-fat yoghurts or cheeses.

As long as your school allows it, there is no harm in putting the occasional chocolate or savoury treat in lunch boxes now and again. However, these are generally full of calories without providing much nutrition so should only be used as an occasional treat rather than a lunch box staple.


Lunch box idea'sIf you’re looking for some inspiration for lunch boxes that will keep your children’s interest and encourage them to eat their mid-day meal, how about trying some of these ideas?


Wholegrain bread sandwich with ham and tomato


Mini Babybell cheese


Tortilla wrap with banana and peanut butter


Low-fat yogurt


Pasta with cooked chicken, broccoli and a light dressing

Carrot sticks with hummus dip

Cheese sticks


Wholegrain pitta bread with cheese and apple slices (dipped in lemon juice to keep fresh)

Handful of grapes

Pot of reduced-fat custard


Small baguette with tuna, sweetcorn and light mayonnaise

Box of raisins

Fromage frais











About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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