It’s all very well trying to add variety and nutrition to your child’s packed lunches, but busy boys and girls just want to chow down and be out in the playground with their mates as soon as possible. This means juggling pots of hummus and forkfuls of salad doesn’t appeal to them as much as a simple ham sandwich!
So it’s time to try a new tactic.
We’ve found some clever ways to make your sandwich rota as delicious as it is nourishing, plus we’ve thrown in some clever yummy extras they’ll never want to swap with the other kids.
These deliciously different sandwich fillings and combos make great alternatives to plain old cheese or ham. We’ve even managed to sneak in extra fruit and veg!
A thin layer of green pesto topped with salad favourites, such as tomato and cucumber, is a tasty but light option.
Layer hummus with grated carrot – simple and tasty, the carrot prevents this sandwich getting too gooey.
Red salmon makes a great change from tuna. Drain a can of red salmon, mash it up and mix it with ketchup.
Give a regular ham filling a kick by spreading the bread with a mild tomato salsa.
A great alternative to jam sandwiches, peel and thinly slice an apple, squeeze over a little lemon juice to stop it turning brown, then sprinkle with cinnamon and a little sugar.
Mix grated carrot and sultanas in with some cottage cheese – this mild, creamy sandwich filling is a yummy way to get fruit and veg into your child’s lunchbox.
Cream cheese with sliced strawberries makes this sandwich taste like a real treat! It works with slices of ripe mango, too.
Rolled-up wraps make a nice alternative to a sandwich. Approach fillings in the same way, keeping them colourful and sneaking in foods you might usually think of for supper not lunch.
Make a Hawaiian pizza wrap with ham, tinned pineapple, grated cheese and tomato sauce. Kids love it. Go for a good-quality tomato sauce with a low salt and sugar content.
Stuff a wrap with refried beans, avocado, grated cheese and sour cream for a great Tex-Mex taster for the lunchbox.
Combine crumbled feta cheese, hummus, cucumber and tomato with a little olive oil for a taste of the Med.
Couscous, tomato, cucumber and grated cheese all wrapped up is a real carb booster, ideal for PE days.
If you want to cut wheat out all together there are some options that are still quick and fun for the kids to eat and full of goodness.
Cut a jacket potato in half and scoop the insides out. Mash and mix with grated cheese, chives and a little mayo, then put back in the jackets. Wrap in foil and put them in Tupperware to keep them soft and warm.
Serve chicken drumsticks with buttered rice cakes and baby tomatoes.
For a great break-time snack, make batches of fruit smoothie and freeze them in empty plastic water bottles. These are quick to grab in the morning, and by lunchtime the smoothie will be liquid – but still chilled.
For recipe ideas, see our article A smoothie a day to keep the doctor away.
Some bonus clever shortcuts for picky eaters and snacking extras.
If your child will only eat cheese sandwiches, try this tasty variation that still features their favourite: grate cheese, apple and carrot then mix with a dash of lemon juice and a spoonful of mayo.
If you need to make your ingredients go further, grate cheese instead of slicing it, and with tuna stir in a handful of sweetcorn when mixing it with mayonnaise.
If your child moans that everyone else brings crisps to school, give them homemade popcorn instead. A cheaper snack, with far less fat, but still fun to eat.
Tupperware boxes are ideal for keeping lunches fresh, but be sure to wash them everyday otherwise they can get smelly and discoloured – which is enough to put kids off the contents, no matter how delicious!
Use a squirt of Fairy Washing Up Liquid to cut through grime and kill germs – plus it lasts 50% longer than the next best-selling brand, so is great for everyday washing.
Of course it’s not just lunch you need to worry about, so be sure to read our articles on Healthy family breakfast recipes, and After-school treats, which includes some snack ideas as well as ways to make them feel happy and relaxed after school.
Do you have any lunchbox ideas that your kids simply love? Share them in the comments section below.