We are almost at the end of the first school term which probably means your kiddies lunchboxes are lacking inspiration and becoming a bit, well, samey… Enter a hopefully useful lunchbox blog… Below I’ve got some example lunchboxes and a ‘master list’ of healthy and, more importantly, simple lunchbox ingredients to make up a winning lunch!
My little lady (3.5 years) has only recently got into eating sandwiches as we tend to have lots of different bits of finger food instead to keep things interesting, pack in some nutrients and ensure variety. The lunchbox is generally made up of veggies, fruit, something with a little more substance (like oatcakes, homemade tortilla chips or homemade chicken nuggets) and I will often put something a little treaty in there like raisins, muffins or occasionally chocolate, but only a little. She really loves her lunches and they nearly always come back empty which is a good sign!
It’s also not a bad idea to make things into fun shapes once in a while; it can honestly help encourage your pre-schooler to try new things. We like cucumber flowers, cheese hearts and sushi sandwiches.
LUNCHBOX 1 – Salmon and cream cheese sushi sandwiches, carrot, cucumber and yellow pepper sticks, olives, hummus and a tangerine
LUNCHBOX 2 – Homemade chicken nugget, sweet potato mini waffle, red pepper ‘flowers’, cucumber, cheddar cheese, plum tomatoes, kiwi and raisins
LUNCHBOX 3 – Carrots, plum tomatoes, chickpeas, cucumber, tangerine, cheddar cheese, blueberries and homemade nut butter cookies (only include if nuts allowed in school or eating outside of school)
LUNCHBOX 4 – Gluten free oatcakes, carrot sticks, plum tomatoes, sweetcorn, cucumber flowers and hearts, red and yellow pepper, butter beans, paprika roasted chickpeas, cheddar cheese, blueberries and pineapple chunks
LUNCHBOX 5 – Gluten free sausage, cucumber, plum tomatoes, peas, cheese, mini bread sticks, blueberries & kiwi
LUNCHBOX 6 – Homemade tortilla chips, hummus, red pepper, cucumber, beetroot ‘letters’, plum tomatoes, cheddar cheese, raisins and carrot and zucchini (courgette) muffins
Why not try mixing and matching some of the following to make a colourful, healthy lunchbox for your preschooler?
- Carrot sticks
- Plum tomatoes
- Red, orange, yellow pepper
- Black or green olives
- Cold peas
- Cold boiled new potatoes
- Boiled beetroot
Beans and Pulses
- Butter beans
- Black beans
You can of course do others but these tend to be the ones I chuck in. I do these roasted or as is from the can. If roasting toss in salt, pepper and olive oil and roast in the oven on 100oC / 200oF for 1 or 2 hours. I also like to add in a little paprika or lemon juice to add to the flavour.
- Grapes (cut lengthways!)
- Oatcakes (we have gluten free)
- Sandwich sushi rolls – makes sandwiches a bit more interesting and focuses on the filling more so than the bread (just use one slice of bread, flatten it out and roll it up with filling inside). We like to do smoked salmon and cream cheese, cream cheese with boiled beets (blended together) or hummus and avocado.
- Cold sausages (we use good quality gluten free)
- Mini bread sticks
- Homemade tortilla chips (see below)
- Homemade chicken nuggets (leftover from the night before… see below)
- Sweet potato mini waffles (see below)
- Salmon, quinoa and spinach balls (see https://sproutingyumminess.com/2017/08/11/annabel-karmels-baby-led-weaning-book-a-review/)
- Salmon and kale burgers (see https://sproutingyumminess.com/2017/07/11/salmon-and-kale-burgers/)
- Cheddar cheese
- Homemade fruit cookies
- Homemade fruit and veggie muffins (see https://sproutingyumminess.com/2016/01/28/carrot-and-courgette-muffins/ for carrot and courgette muffins)
- Blueberry porridge squares (see https://sproutingyumminess.com/2016/06/28/blueberry-porridge-squares/)
- A little dark chocolate
- Nut free bliss balls
Ingredients for tortilla chips:
- tortillas (I use wholemeal or gluten free)
- olive oil
- Himalayan salt
Method for tortilla chips:
- Preheat oven to 160oC / 320oF
- Cut the tortillas into triangles
- Lay them on a baking tray then brush them with the olive oil and sprinkle over the salt (so it sticks to the olive oil)
- Bake for ~8 minutes, allow to cool and serve. These will keep for a day or two so great for the following days lunchbox!
Ingredients for the chicken nuggets:
- 2 lg chicken breast cut into 4 equal pieces
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 2 lg eggs beaten
- 1.5 cups coconut flakes
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
Method for the chicken nuggets:
- Preheat oven to 180oC / 360oF and brush a baking tray with extra virgin olive oil
- Arrange 3 bowls, one with coconut flour, S&P, one with beaten eggs, one with the coconut flakes, paprika, garlic powder, S&P
- Coat each chicken piece in the flour, then the egg (shake off excess) then the coconut flake mix and place on the baking tray
- Bake the chicken strips for ~15 minutes or until cooked through.
- Can be eaten cold the next day
Ingredients for the sweet potato waffles:
- 1 medium sweet potato peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks
- 2 of eggs
- 1.5 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup almond milk (can use other milk)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup gluten free flour mix (can use other flour)
- 1 tsp baking powder
Method for the sweet potato waffles:
- Boil sweet pot cubes until soft, drain and mash.
- Mix all the wet ingredients together (sweet pots, eggs, vanilla, milk).
- Mix dry ingredients together then add to the wet ingredients and mix well.
- Drop a heaped tbsp of the mixture into each corner of the waffle maker to make them look like ‘bites’. Follow your waffle instructions to cook.
- Can store in fridge for 4 days and toasted before serving (if not in lunchbox)
I hope this provides you with some inspiration! Enjoy, Sally x