Stress-free school lunches that the kids will actually eat!
School’s back! While that’s cause for celebration for most parents, it does mean the return of the dreaded daily challenge to pack yummy, budget-conscious (and hopefully healthy!) school lunches that the kids will actually eat.
Try these top tips for fun, healthy and cheap lunchbox ideas that are so good you’ll be packing an enjoying one for yourself too!
Save cash – and the environment!
- All those little individual packet serves of crackers, cheese, crisps, biscuits, yoghurt and dried fruit might be convenient – but they cost a heap more than buying one large pack, and they create a stack more wrapping and rubbish.
- Save on both your grocery bill and packaging by buying these foods in large packets and tubs. Invest in some small reusable containers and use these to create your own mini portions of snacks like crackers and cheese, yoghurt, biscuits – anything you like. Both your wallet and the environment will thank you!
- Try this cheap and easy snack idea – mix together dried fruit, homemade popcorn and pretzel sticks. Store the mix in an airtight container in the pantry and scoop into small zip-lock bags or containers as required.
Skip the boring sandwiches
Sick of those soggy vegemite sandwiches coming home uneaten? Like you, kids get sick of the same thing all the time. The good news is, there’s plenty of alternatives to sandwiches that are just as quick and easy!
- Mix things up a little and try sandwich alternatives like wraps, rolls or pita breads. Just like sandwiches, these can be made ahead and frozen if you like.
- Try vegemite and cheese, ham, chicken and other sliced meats, or tinned tuna or beans. Even toppings like salad leaves and shredded carrot freeze just fine.
- Skip the morning rush! Make a batch of rolls, wraps or pita breads once a week, wrap each in cling wrap and use a marker to note the filling before throwing them into the freezer.
Leftovers for lunch – yum!
Multi-task while cooking dinner – make a little extra to cover lunches for the next day. Leftovers make for easy, awesome and yummy lunches!
- Use those small reusable containers we mentioned earlier for servings of dinner leftovers such as –
- rice, pasta or couscous
- try these quick and easy recipes for frittata or quiche
- crackers or rice cakes.
- a deconstructed sandwich – skip the bread and instead chop fillings like cheese, ham, egg, lettuce and tomato into bite-sized pieces
- Other foods that travel well include:
Time it right
Who says making lunches has to be a part of the morning rush? Pick the time that best suits your schedule (and stress levels)!
- If you’re at home in the afternoon, why not pack your kids lunches for the next day as soon as they get home from school? It saves this chore interrupting dinner or homework time, or creating morning chaos.
- Alternatively, pack lunch boxes for the next day after dinner and before hitting the hay each night. It’ll make for one less job on your list when you get up the next day!
- Whatever time works best for your family’s routine, share the load and ask the kids to pack their reusable snack containers and select their fruit. This will also help ensure they’re involved in their food choices, making them more likely to eat all of their lunch.
Plan and prep ahead to save time and money
Lots of lunchbox prep can be done in bulk batches, saving time.
- Veggie sticks – chopped carrot, celery, capsicum and cucumber all keep crisp if refrigerated wrapped in wet paper towels and in a container. Throw a selection into a reusable snack container each day.
- Sandwich fillings like grated carrot, sliced cheese and cucumber, and shredded lettuce will all keep fresh in a container in the fridge for a day or two.
- Make and freeze your own muffins, muesli bars and savoury scrolls. These are great healthy alternatives to canteen snacks – just pop them in the lunch box still frozen and they’ll be thawed by recess.
If you’re still after inspiration, try here for lots more yummy, healthy and fun lunchbox ideas.