Lunchbox Ideas for busy Mums

We know how mad it can be in the mornings for busy Mums, so that’s why I have put together this 5 day menu planner for healthy lunchbox ideas that kids will love. Each lunchbox is nutritionally balanced to make sure your child gets the right amount of nutrients to grow, play learn and be healthy. They also adhere to the School Food Trust guidelines. But they’re tasty and exciting enough to make sure the luchboxes come home empty at the end of the day!

A healthy lunchbox can be made by choosing a variety of foods form the 4 main food groups.

Your 5-point checklist for making a healthy lunchbox:

1. Have you got something from the BREAD, RICE, POTATOES, PASTA group?
Ideas at a glance:
1. Breads – choose a mixture of wholemeal, multigrain, wholegrain and white
2. Rolls
3. Pittas
4. Bagels
5. Baguettes
6. English muffins
7. Ciabatta
8. Wraps
9. Rice crackers
10. Crispbreads
11. Crackers
12. Scotch pancakes
13. Scones
14. Current buns
15. Fruit bread
16. Malt loaf
17. Pasta, rice and potato salads

2. Have you got something from the FRUIT AND VEGETABLES group?
Ideas at a glance:
1. Salads in sandwiches and rolls
2. Cherry tomatoes
3. Carrot and cucumber sticks
4. Apples
5. Pears
6. Satsumas
7. Bananas
8. Grapes
9. Melon pieces
10. Kiwis
11. Plums
12. Nectarines
13. Canned pieces of fruit in juice
14. Raisins
15. Dried apricots
16. Tubs of fruit salad

3. Have you got something from the MEAT, FISH, EGGS, BEANS group?
Ideas at a glance:
1. Slices of ham (reduced salt)
2. Turkey ham
3. Slices of leftover cold meat (chicken or beef)
4. Boiled eggs
5. Canned tuna (choose spring water to reduce the salt), salmon
6. Cooked prawns
7. Hummus
8. Peanut butter – check the school nut policy

4. Have you got something from the MILK AND DAIRY FOODS group?
Ideas at a glance:
1. Milk or soya milk (calcium enriched)
2. Mini cheese and cheese triangles
3. Low fat soft cheese
4. Cottage cheese with pineapple chunks
5. Yoghurts
6. Fromage frais
7. Pots of rice pudding
8. Pots of custard

5. Have you got a DRINK?
Ideas at a glance:
1. Water
2. Milk
3. Fruit juices
4. Smoothies
5. Drinking yoghurt
Your 5-day lunchbox menu planner:

2 small wholemeal rolls with spread and 2 thin slices of beef (from Sunday’s roast) or a sliced boiled egg and thick slices of tomato and some lettuce
Slice of banana bread
Small pot of fruit yoghurt or fomage frais
Fruit juice

Nutrition information

Energy (kcal) 447 Saturates (g) 5
Protein (g) 20 Sugars (g) 33
Fat (g) 11 Fibre (g) 4
Carbohydrate (g) 70 Salt (g) 1.5

2 slices of white bread (with added fibre) with spread and slices of Edam
Bag of baby carrot batons
Pot of hummus dip
Small bunch of grapes
Pot of rice pudding
Bottle of water

Nutrition information

Energy (kcal) 565 Saturates (g) 6
Protein (g) 26 Sugars (g) 45
Fat (g) 12 Fibre (g) 3
Carbohydrate (g) 96 Salt (g) 1.7

Plain bagel spread with low fat soft cheese and filled with some canned pink salmon mixed and some slices of cucumber
Slice of malt loaf
Box of raisins
Drinking yoghurt

Nutrition information

Energy (kcal) 495 Saturates (g) 3
Protein (g) 26 Sugars (g) 36
Fat (g) 8 Fibre (g) 3
Carbohydrate (g) 98 Salt (g) 1.8

2 small wholemeal round pitta breads filled with hummus, grated carrot and sliced cherry tomatoes
Mini breadstick and cucumber batons with a soft cheese dip
Carton of semi-skimmed milk

Nutrition information

Energy (kcal) 570 Saturates (g) 2
Protein (g) 27 Sugars (g) 28
Fat (g) 12 Fibre (g) 3
Carbohydrate (g) 84 Salt (g) 1.9

Tub of cooked pasta shapes mixed with diced cooked chicken or canned tuna, avocado, chopped red pepper and spring onions
Small pot of fruit pieces in juice
Mini cheese
Bottle of strawberry and banana smoothie

Nutrition information

Energy (kcal) 565 Saturates (g) 2
Protein (g) 28 Sugars (g) 50
Fat (g) 8 Fibre (g) 3
Carbohydrate (g) 9 Salt (g) 1.4

10 Top Tips for Healthy Lunchboxes

1. Plan ahead and remember to add what you need to the weekly shopping list
2. Packing a lunch only takes 5 minutes if you have already planned it
3. If you’re pushed for time, pack it the night before, but don’t forget it!
4. For a change from bread of rolls, try potato, rice, noodle or pasta based salads, cook extra the night before and keep in the fridge
5. For younger children, slice apples and pears or peel oranges and satsumas and put in little bags
6. Don’t forget all types of fruit counts, if you don’t always fancy an apple or a banana, try, raisins or a few dried apricots, tubs of fruit salad or a can of pineapple chunks in juice
7. Replace cakes and biscuits with fruit breads, scones, current buns or Scotch pancakes
8. Make Fridays the day your child can choose to have chocolate, crisps or biscuits (although check the school food policy first)
9. Try to keep the lunchbox cool, use ice packs or freeze your carton of juice, it will be thawed out by lunch time
10. Keep lunchboxes interesting by adopting colour themes, or take inspiration from holidays or different countries, e.g. red lunch day or Spanish lunch day, get your child to come up with their own ideas.