10 budget packed lunch ideas for kids
Lunch box ideas for kids don’t have to be boring or repetitive – and there are so many ideas you might not have even thought of to try.
As we prepare for the start of another school year, we once again stumble upon that age-old question – what should I put in my kid’s packed lunchbox?
Here are 10 fun and healthy lunch ideas for your little ones that won’t blow the budget.
1. Leftover pasta salad
Got some leftover pasta from last night’s dinner? Great! Just mix it up with some tuna, mayo, and a selection of your child’s favourite veg, and you have a delicious and filling lunchbox pasta salad that will keep hunger at bay until dinner time. Remember, whole wheat pasta is a healthier option, and if your child doesn’t like tuna, you can substitute with cooked chicken or cheese.
2. Fun-filled pittas
Pitta bread pockets offer an alternative to regular bread and are easy to stuff with a range of interesting and tasty fillings. Is your child a fan of spice? If so, you could fill with spiced falafels and salad, or perhaps piri-piri chicken is more their thing? Again, whole meal pittas are a better choice than white, and remember not to overfill or there might be some soggy lunch boxes when the dinner bell rings!
3. A different kind of crisp
Most kids love crisps, and cheese. So, why not make them some homemade cheesy crisps. And the best part is that you only need one ingredient, plus a little salt and pepper. Follow our parmesan crisps recipe for a tasty snack that's a fun alternative to the standard bag.
4. Homemade hummus
Hummus is a tasty and nutritious filling that kids love to dunk into with their chopped veg. You can make your own super healthy hummus really easily with a few basic ingredients and if you keep it in an airtight Tupperware box, it will last a good few lunchtimes.
5. Something ricey
Rice is such a versatile ingredient and one which kids of all ages love. Once you have got them used to the idea of eating cold rice, you can quite literally mix it with anything to create a series of yummy lunchbox recipes. Tuna, coronation chicken, grated cheese and tomatoes – the options are endless.
6. Funky fruit salad
When it comes to fruit in a kid’s lunchbox, the trick is to make it as appealing as possible. Often this means chopping it up small and mixing it together with a range of other fruits to make it colourful and tempting. Try making a batch of fresh fruit salad at the start of the week and pop it in the fridge until you dish it out into tiny containers each day. Co-op easy peelers are great additions, as are Co-op apples, chopped grapes, blueberries and mango chunks.
7. Rainbow wraps
What’s not to love about a wrap! And, especially one that has a variety of colours from the rainbow in it. Why not make it your mission to add as many colours into the wrap as you can with different foods? What about egg mayo with a little Co-op ripe avocado and some shredded beetroot? Or, how about salmon, cucumber and mayo mixed with a little turmeric powder to turn it yellow.
8. Mini muffins
Sweet or savoury muffins are perfect in a packed lunchbox and can be batch made for budget benefits. Try banana, cherry bakewell or lemon and poppy seed for sweet options, or cheese and sweetcorn or spinach and feta for savoury alternatives.
9. Mad about muesli bars
Homemade snacks don’t get easier to make than muesli bars. Plus, some recipes don’t need to be baked at all. You can add oats, seeds, raisins, or other fruit, blended together with either honey or maple syrup. If your school is nut free like many UK schools are, then making your muesli bars from scratch ensure that they are compliant with all the guidelines.
10. Go bananas
Bananas are a wonderful fruit that all kids seem to love. Plus, there are so many things you can do with them – even when they have gone a bit brown! You could make homemade banana bread, banana rice pudding, banana pancakes or banana cookies – all great treats to pop in for a surprised kid.
We hope you have found plenty of fun lunchbox inspiration to take away into the new autumn term. And don't forget to try out our recipe pages for hundreds more tasty ideas.