Simple packed lunch ideas for kids

Are you bored of making cheese sandwiches but know in your heart that you’re never going to be the sort of parent who gets up at 5am to make teddy bear shaped felafel?


If you’re bored of the packed lunches you’re making then your child probably is too. Does the lunch box always come back with the same sad-looking apple and a few crusts?  It’s time you mixed things up a bit, life will be more interesting for everyone and your child might even get a more balanced diet too.

But don’t worry, this needn’t take tons of time and effort. Here are a few useful tips to make packed lunches a bit more varied without taking any more time to prepare.


  • Pasta/rice/couscous salads are quick if you think ahead. If you are making pasta bolognese for tea, chop up a little extra raw veg, add in some of the cooked pasta with a bit of mayo or pesto. And there you have it – pasta salad ready for the next day.
  • Buy some different types of bread. These might also inspire you to use the matching filling: bagel (cream cheese), pitta bread (houmous), soft “hot-dog” rolls (sausage & ketchup).
  • Plan ahead when shopping. You can’t pack a tiger bread roll or a mini pack of raisins for a change unless you thought to buy them.
  • Even ordinary sliced bread sandwiches can be made more interesting without spending any more time or money. Use a slice of brown on top and a slice of white underneath to make a multi-coloured sandwich. Cut into triangles, small squares, fingers …
  • Kids will generally eat lots of small things better than one big thing. So ditch the door stop. Include one or two small sarnies and add a few nibbles: cheese cubes, breadsticks, mini sausages, mini quiches, mini-spring rolls, mini-pasties, felafel, cheese straws, crisps, vegetable crisps.
  • Collect together a few very small, cheap containers. It’s easier to include fresh things if you can just pop a few small bits into a small container.
  • Don’t forget leftovers. “Fridge-food” can make easy, tasty additions: cut up sausage, omelette square, cubed roast chicken, pizza, small baked potato, pancake.
  • Once or twice a week make something completely different. Veg strips and breadsticks with houmous, cheese and crackers, soup in a flask, tortilla wraps, pitta pockets, cold potato wedges with cream cheese dip.
  • Add a little pot of veg: carrots, cucumber, sugar snap peas, mangetouts, mini-corns, cherry tomatoes, peppers.
  • Add a little pot of fruit: raisins, dried apricots, grapes, mango, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, tinned fruit.
  • Keep a crib list. If you know you’ll have a serious inspiration deficit at 7.30 am, keep a crib list of things the kids will eat and can be made into a packed lunch in less than 10 mins.

Need more ideas? Ask your child what their friends take to school. It’s surprising what new foods they might try if their friend has it too!

Take a look at our blog on top ten ways to encourage kids to enjoy cooking.

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