Let’s Get Lunch Sorted!

What do you think when the words packed lunches are mentioned

• Cheese sandwich
• Strawberry yoghurt
• Packet of crisps
• Piece of fruit

I remember as a child my packed lunch would consist of a sandwich (jam was a favourite, so was sandwich spread – yuk!), a breakaway bar (chocolate snack bar – do they still have these?), packet of skips (those are crisps) and a piece of fruit (usually a banana).

My nutritionist self is now rocking in the corner, rolling her eyes!!

The School Plan Report  found that only 1% of packed lunches met the same nutritional standards as school dinners – they clearly didn’t look at my children’s packed lunch!

So how does that leave the parent who is trying to provide their child with the best option for lunch. After all we’re already screwed at breakfast when it comes to kid’s cereals. For breakfast help click here.

The fact is that food affects your child’s ability to concentrate, behave and learn so it would make perfect sense to get lunch as good as it can be.

Here are my suggestions, I hope you find them really useful.

Top Tip 1#

Invest in a good lunch box.

Personally, I love the yumbox, Sistema lunch cube and the Aladdin bento box (for hot foods).

Top Tip 2#

Get the balance right

You need to include some slow releasing carbohydrates, some good quality protein, some fat, some fruit and vegetables and if applicable a little dairy.

You will also need to be nut free for nearly all schools.

Carbohydrates (always aim to use wholegrain/wholemeal products)

Seeded wholegrain bread


Wholegrain wraps


Wholegrain bread rolls


Oat cakes


Rice cakes (wholegrain)


Corn crackers


Wholemeal pitta breads






Wholegrain crackers


Gluten free crackers/bread (if needed)


Wholemeal pasta


Wholegrain rice




Brown rice noodles


Potatoes – sweet/white


Root Vegetables Artisan breads

 Protein (the best quality you can get because this is vital for growth and repair)

Eggs (hard-boiled works well in a lunch box)


Chicken (use roast dinner left overs or buy good quality)


Ham (try not to rely on this & buy the best quality you can)


Other meats (beef, lamb etc)


Cooked cold sausages (same advice as ham)










Beans (i.e. chickpeas, kidney beans etc – falafels)










Seeds (pumpkin, chia, sunflower etc)


Yoghurt (avoid the fruit flavoured ones loaded with sugar)




Nuts (but these are excluded due to allergy policy in schools)



Fats (an important food source for children’s brain development and immune system)

Oily fish (i.e. salmon)


Coconut oil


Tahini (ground sesame seeds)


Olive oil






Seeds (all seeds contain important oils and nutrients)


Cheese/dairy foods (full fat)


Eggs (contain a good level of beneficial fats)




Hummus (contains good fats from tahini, olive oil)


Dark chocolate



Fruits/Vegetables (less fruit, more vegetables)

Any fresh fruits (get creative; lychee, pomegranate seeds, melon, passion fruit etc)


Tinned fruits (make sure they are canned in juice not syrup and drain)


Dried fruits (i.e. figs, dates, apricots, goji berries, raisins – go easy though as they are high in sugars but a great source of iron)


Raw sugar snap peas/mange tout


Frozen peas (they will thaw out before lunch time)






Little gem lettuce


Cherry tomatoes


Snack peppers


Raw carrots (ideal to spiralise)


Raw broccoli


Courgette (another good one to spiralise)


Spinach leaves


Sweetcorn, on the cob/out the tin/mini cobs


Cooked green beans


Red cabbage






Bean shoots/sprouted beans Cooked butternut squash


Top Tip 3#

Putting it all together

Below I give you my top 15 lunch box ideas

1. Wholemeal wrap with hummus, baby spinach & grated carrot * sweetcorn & tomatoes * olives * natural yoghurt topped with mixed seeds & honey * red grapes *

2. Crackers * hummus * olives * tomatoes * cucumber * strawberries & lychees * homemade flapjack * dried apricot & date

3. Roll out a slice of brown bread (flat) cover with cream cheese & mashed avocado then roll up and cut into 4 pieces * sugar snap peas * cantaloupe melon * pumpkin seeds & goji berries * homemade biscuit *

4. Oat cakes & bread sticks * cooked chicken & sausage * homemade blueberry muffin * strawberries & raspberries * pumpkin seeds & raisins * sweetcorn, cucumber & lettuce *

5. Egg muffins * frozen peas * homemade cereal bar * mango * corn crackers * carrot & pepper sticks * pickles *

6. Butternut squash salad * mozzarella & spinach wraps * orange & blueberries * cucumber & tomato * homemade chocolate biscuit * dried fig

7. Falafels * sweet potato biscuit * hummus * mini pitta breads * raspberries * soya flavoured seeds * celery & broccoli *

8. Savoury muffin * hard-boiled egg * raw brownie * spiralised carrot & courgette salad * avocado slices * cherries *

9. King prawns * rice cakes * sweet chilli jam * cucumber strips & bean shoots * pineapple * pancake with yoghurt & honey *

10. Mixed beans * pitta bread with cheese * sweetcorn * tomatoes * lettuce * strawberries * dried fig * natural yoghurt with seeds & maple syrup *

11. Quinoa salad * salmon sandwich * carrots & tomatoes * orange segments * pumpkin seeds & raisins * natural yoghurt with goji berries & chia seeds *

12. Pasta tuna salad * homemade energy balls * beetroot & peppers * plums * mixed seeds * cheese stick *

13. Rice mackerel salad * corn on the cobb * peas * green grapes & pomegranate seeds * homemade biscuit * roasted chickpeas *

14. Soups – make sure you include some protein.

15. Leftover dinners – heart up and use a good thermos lunch box.

There are a number of homemade options i.e. biscuits, flapjack, cereal bars, muffins, energy balls, falafels etc.
For recipes, you can download my free super quick recipe eBook here.



1 Comment

  1. Sophie Joy on November 11, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    This is a brilliantly helpful post, I struggle with lunches for my little one and even tho she is not at school yet Im going to start trying these ideas now. Thank you Julie xx

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