Packed lunches with pizzazz

It’s easy to rely on fail-safe sarnies, but variety makes eating more fun as well as healthy. Here are some alternative school lunch ideas that pack a punch

The morning rush and a child’s tendency to go on and off foods on a whim means you can easily get into a rut of making the same lunch day after day, week after week – usually revolving around the trusty sandwich.

But here’s a week’s worth of ideas to help you beat the boredom and make packed lunch a welcome pit-stop in your child’s school day.

A week of sandwich-free fun

Monday: put it in a pot

Toast pitta bread and cut it into ‘soldiers’ with a pot of hummus for dipping, along with carrot and cucumber sticks.

Like this? Also try veggie cous cous pots.

Tuesday: burrito on a budget

Fill a soft tortilla wrap with slices of ham and green pepper strips. Serve with a side of mozzarella kebabs.

Wednesday: warm cheesy jackets

Jacket potato cut in half with insides scooped out, mashed and mixed with grated cheese, chives and a little mayo, then put back in the jackets.
Wrap in foil to keep them soft and warm.

For more hot lunch inspiration, see Hot packed lunch tummy-filler ideas.

Thursday: tasty tuna pasta

Pasta salad. Mix pasta, tuna flakes and mayo with onion/sweet corn/black olives, according to your child’s taste.

Got a bit more time? See our recipe for hidden veg pasta pots.

Friday: drum up some chicken

Rice cakes or buttered crackers (buttered sides together to avoid mess) with chicken drumsticks and baby whole tomatoes.

Spice up the chicken drumsticks with this recipe.

A knack for snacks

• As a change from an apple, choose a more exotic fruit such as an apricot, plum or kiwi, or try de-stoned cherries, water melon chunks, or fruit salad in a sealable pot.
• Use empty yoghurt pots for a sweetcorn salad with chopped red pepper, tomato and cucumber.
• Make a crunchy snack medley with celery, carrot sticks, mange touts and baby corn.

Healthy drinks

If your child struggles to drink water, keep their hydration levels up with a nutrition-packed drink. Make a batch of healthy smoothies 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.

To ensure you have more time to put into packed lunches, see our Tips for a stress-free school morning routine.

What do you put in your kids’ packed lunches? Share your ideas in the comments section below.