Healthy. Simple. Fun.
After the recent surge of healthy school dinner campaigns outlining concerns over the food being served to children, school dinners have benefited from a long overdue transformation. Providing healthy lunches for children is now more essential than ever with the change in attitudes and knowledge towards food. This change has helped to identify the importance of healthy, balanced and nutritionally rich diets as it promotes better concentration, increased academic success and a general uplift in mood – just to list a few!
“Packing a healthy lunchbox can be a daily battle!”
So what should we be putting in those little boxes each day?
The NHS has outlined that a healthy lunchbox should contain the following:
- Starchy foods. These are bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, and others.
- Protein foods. These are meat, fish, eggs, beans and others.
- A dairy item. This could be cheese or yoghurt.
- Vegetables or salad, and a portion of fruit.
Top 10 Healthy Children’s Lunchbox recipes
Planning ahead can help you to avoid getting stuck in a cheese and pickle rut! Being creative and healthy can be time-consuming so below is a list of our top 10 easy to prepare, creative and healthy kid’s lunchbox recipe ideas. Enjoy!
Couscous has become a popular alternative to rice and pasta originating from North Africa and it is very low in saturated fat. It’s easy to prepare with the bonus of being able to be creative with what’s in your fridge, you can use a variety of different vegetables and meats to make a delicious couscous dish.
2. Pasta Salad
Pasta Salads are an easy and quick recipe that’s always a favourite! Using tuna can be beneficial for children’s lunches as it is low in saturated fat, a very good source of protein and contains Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12.
3. Chicken Wrap
A creative alternative to sandwiches, making your child’s lunchbox that little bit more fun! You can also use vegetarian alternatives in the wrap for example one of my favourites – Paneer cheese, which could be served with spinach or salad. Paneer can sometimes be a pain to get hold of so halloumi cheese is a great substitute.
Savoury cupcakes are a good idea to get those fussy eaters into more adventurous foods as well as subtly giving them a good portion of vegetables. A good combination would be cheese and spinach, the recipe above uses feta but you could also try cheddar or parmesan. I also find using frozen spinach saves time and reduces waste (who hasn’t explored the fridge to find half a bag of soggy leaves) plus – it tastes every bit as good as fresh once baked.
For children’s pack lunches it may be an idea to make smaller jellies in mini Tupper-wear boxes with lids. Make a batch on a Sunday and you can have yummy fruity jellies all week. Add tinned peaches or fresh blueberries or any softer fruits to a basic raspberry jelly mix or dissolve your own gelatine or agar (a veggie jelly substitute made from seaweed) into fresh juice instead. Just avoid pineapple as this fruit can prevent the jelly from setting and developing a nice wobble!
A dish consisting of a thick egg omelette made with onions and potatoes fried in olive oil, but you can add vegetables or meats to make it more flavoursome and give your child some of their 5 a day. Making smaller portions might be easier to store in your child’s lunchbox, you could even use cutter to make some fun shapes!
Most children are familiar with potato crisps but using other vegetables can be colourful, tasty and that bit healthier. You could serve with a homemade hummus dip.
8. Spring rolls
A fun alternative to sandwiches with the added bonus of getting your child to have a variety of vegetables that are not always considered ‘child friendly’! The above recipe uses prawns which are a great source of protein and contain omega-3 fatty acids but you can make them with meat – chicken or duck and there is always the option to just use vegetables – always delicious!
Cheesy pastry straws, lovely on their own but can be great for dipping! Like with the savoury cupcakes I think it would be idea to add ingredients such as spinach to add some colour and flavour to the dish, as well as making it a slightly healthier option!
10. Chicken Kebabs
Marinated chicken and vegetables cooked on skewers – as enjoyable to make as to eat! I would use a variety of vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms and courgettes to go with the chicken; it makes it more colourful and fun to eat! Paneer or halloumi cheese or tofu would be a great substitute for the chicken.
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