A lunch box with a sandwich and variety of fruits and nuts included. As well as a chopping board with nuts, blueberries, strawberries and grapes around it.

Healthy lunch ideas for kids

From November 9 to 13 this year, it’s National Schools Meals Week, a UK-wide event aimed at shining the spotlight on school meals, which has already become a widely talked about topic in recent months.

Run by LACA, The School Food People, the annual campaign is seen as a way to promote school lunches, and is a great opportunity to make healthy eating fun and enjoyable, as well as inspire lots of new lunch box creations that can be made by parents and children.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to dedicate this article to all things healthy lunchbox-related. We hope by the time you’ve reached the end, it’ll have provided you with lots of nutritious kids’ lunch box ideas, as well as plenty of pack lunch ideas inspiration!

If you’ve been wondering, ‘What should I put in my preschool lunchbox?’, ‘What do you put in your child’s lunchbox?’, ‘What can I give my child for lunch?’ and many more of those types of questions, this article is here to help you nail those lunchbox queries. Now, let’s tuck into those ideas!

6 lunch ideas for kids


Keep reading for these school lunch ideas:

  1. Lunchbox pasta salad.
  2. Super salad wraps.
  3. Salmon and salad bagel.
  4. Soft cheese and salad sandwich.
  5. Super versatile meatballs.
  6. Chocolate dipped tangerine.

School lunchbox idea 1: Lunchbox pasta salad1


Ingredients:

  • 400g pasta
  • 4 to 5 tbsp fresh pesto
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 200g mixed cooked veg such as peas, green beans, courgette (chop the beans and courgette into pea-sized pieces)
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 200g cooked chicken, ham, prawns, hard-boiled egg or cheese

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta in boiling water for around 11 minutes, until it is just ready. Drain and then tip it into a bowl. Stir in the pesto and leave the pasta to cool.
  2. When the pasta is cool, stir through the mayo, yogurt, lemon juice and veg. Spoon into lunchboxes or on to pasta plates and put the cooked chicken or protein of your choice on top. Chill the pasta until it’s ready to eat.

How healthy is it?


Nutrition per serving:

Kcal 528
Fat 16g
Saturates 3g
Carbohydrate 69g
Sugars 5g
Fibre 8g
Protein 23g
Salt 1.2g

 School lunchbox idea 2: Super salad wraps2


Ingredients:

  • 1 tortilla
  • 2 tbsp hummus
  • 1 lettuce leaf
  • ¼ carrot, shredded or grated
  • 4 cucumber sticks and/or 2 avocado slices
  • 1 tbsp fresh tomato salsa or chopped tomatoes
  • A handful of grated cheddar cheese

Method:

  1. Lay the tortilla out on a board or flat surface spread the hummus on the bottom third and put the lettuce on top. Arrange the carrot, cucumber and/or avocado in a bank on top of the lettuce and spoon the salsa on top. Then sprinkle the cheese on.
  2. Fold the bottom of the wrap up just over the filling, fold the sides in and then roll the wrap the rest of the way up. Cut in half or into pieces as shown. Either put straight into a lunchbox or if halved, wrap in wax paper first to help keep your wraps nice and fresh until they’re ready to be eaten.

How healthy are they?


Nutrition per serving:

Kcal 354
Fat 19g
Saturates 10g
Carbohydrate 26g
Sugars 4g
Fibre 5g
Protein 16g
Salt 1.7g

School lunchbox idea 3: Salmon and salad bagel3


Ingredients:

  • 1 wholemeal bagel
  • 1 small can (105g) or half a large can of pink salmon
  • 1 level tbsp of reduced calorie mayonnaise
  • Large pinch of black pepper
  • 4 slices of cucumber
  • A small wedge of lettuce, the equivalent to 2 tbsp when shredded

Method:

  1. Cut the bagel in half, toast it and then leave it to cool.
  2. Drain the salmon and remove the bones (they are edible, so you can leave them in if you want to). Mix with the mayonnaise and pepper.
  3. Spread the mixture on to one half of the bagel, add the cucumber and lettuce and then top with the other half of the bagel.

How healthy is it?


Nutrition per serving:

Kcal 376
Fat 11.0g
Saturates 1.6g
Carbohydrate 40.2g
Sugars 4.4g
Fibre 5.6g
Protein 26.2g
Salt 1.5g

School lunchbox idea 4: Soft cheese and salad sandwich4


Ingredients:

  • 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread
  • 2 tbsp medium fat soft cheese
  • 3cm piece of cucumber, finely chopped
  • 20g celery (about ⅔ of a stick), finely chopped
  • Small wedge of lettuce, to give 2 tbsp when shredded
  • Pinch of black pepper or paprika, optional

Method:

  1. Spread both slices of bread with the cheese.
  2. Pat the salad dry and use to fill the sandwich, sprinkling with pepper or paprika for a little extra taste.

How healthy is it?


Nutrition per serving:

Kcal 266
Fat 5.9g
Saturates 2.6g
Carbohydrate 37.1g
Sugars 4.2g
Fibre 7.0g
Protein 12.7g
Salt 1.1g

School lunchbox idea 5: Super versatile meatballs5


Ingredients:

  • ½ medium onion , roughly chopped
  • 85g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 200g lean pork mince
  • 200g turkey mince
  • A grating of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp plain flour, plus more for dusting
  • Rapeseed oil for frying
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 400ml of hot beef stock
  • 2 tbsp single cream

Method:

  1. Mix the onion, breadcrumbs and parsley in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the mince, nutmeg and seasoning. Form the mixture into 20 walnut-sized meatballs and dust with flour.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the meatballs in batches until they are browned all over, then carefully lift them out with a slotted spoon and drain them on a piece of kitchen paper.
  3. Melt the butter in the pan, then sprinkle over the flour and stir well. Cook for 2 mins, then slowly whisk in the stock. Keep whisking until it becomes a thick gravy, then return the meatballs to the pan and cook them for 5 mins. Stir in the cream. Before serving, check one to see if they are cooked all the way through to the centre.

How healthy are they?


Nutrition per serving:

Kcal 314
Fat 13g
Saturates 4g
Carbohydrate 16g
Sugars 2g
Fibre 2g
Protein 31g
Salt 0.8g

 School lunchbox idea 6: Chocolate dipped tangerines6


Ingredients:

  • 1 tangerine, peeled and segmented
  • 10g dark chocolate, melted

Method:


Dip half of each tangerine segment in the melted chocolate, then put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Keep in the fridge for 1 hr to set completely or overnight if you prefer.

How healthy are they?


Nutritional serving:

Kcal 99
Fat 4g
Saturates 2g
Carbohydrate 13g
Sugars 12g
Fibre 2g
Protein 1g
Salt 0g

Some other school lunches advice

Help keep your child’s school lunch nice and fresh by:7
  • Putting it in a proper lunch bag or lunchbox.
  • Make sure the bag/lunchbox is leak-proof!
  • Keep cold food chilled with an ice tray or pack.
  • Keep hot food separate to the cold food.
  • Don’t try and keep lunch cool with a frozen drink.
  • If your child is a fussy eater, use an ‘easy lunchbox’ a lunchbox that contains different compartments to keep all of the different ingredients separate for them. If there’s something in particular they don’t like, it hasn’t contaminated the rest of the food in their packed lunch8
  • Don’t just stick to standard sandwiches, lunch box ideas involving wraps and pots of fillings are more exciting for children to put together and enjoy9
  • Always add some salad and veg to your child’s lunch box, it’s an easy way to make sure they get their 5 a day. Ideas include: carrot sticks, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, celery shapes and lettuce leaves10
  • Add in some bite-sized fruit that’s easy to eat, such as chopped up pieces of apple, peeled satsuma segments, halved strawberries, a small handful of blueberries, grapes that have been cut in half or small slices of melon11
  • Tinned fruit can also be classed as one of your child’s 5 a day, so make sure you add them into their lunch box too. Tip: Choose fruit that’s in juice over fruit that’s in syrup, as it’s much healthier12

Hopefully you’ve found these lunch box ideas useful and can’t wait to give them a try? Remember, you don’t have to rigidly stick to them, it is possible to swap out some of the ingredients, depending on what your children does and doesn’t like, but make sure they’re just as healthy.

For more healthy ideas on what to rustle up for your child’s school lunches every day read, ‘Back to school: Healthy and nutritious lunch ideas kids will love.’

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Last Updated: 10th November 2020