5 Simple School Lunchbox Ideas Your Kids Will Love

Mari-Louise Candiotes

Looking for fun and easy school lunchbox ideas? Mom-of-three Mari-Louise Candiotes shares her creative and healthy tips based on the days of the week.

Packing school lunchboxes day after day can become a bit of a bore, not just for Mom and Dad but for the kids, too. So, we asked mom-of-three Mari-Louse Candiotes (aka Just a Mama) for a few creative tips as we move into a new school term. Here are her school lunchbox ideas according to the days of the week…

school lunchbox ideas

1. Meat-free Mondays

If your family practices a flexitarian or mostly meat-eating lifestyle, we can all benefit from at least one meat-free day a week. That means no meat, dairy or eggs for one entire day each week. It may sound difficult at first but with the many plant-based proteins available these days, you’ll be surprised at how spoiled we are for choice.

A go-to meat-free Monday school lunchbox for our girls usually includes:

  • One of the following proteins: rice and chia Nuggets, chickpea and roasted butternut balls, plant-based mini sausages or even a plant-based pie. Sometimes I’ll cut a plant-based patty or schnitzel into strips. Anything goes, as long as it’s meat-free.
  • A sauce for dipping. A classic tomato sauce always hits the spot, otherwise hummus or chutney work too.
  • One serving of fruits and veggies each.
  • A milk alternative drink to keep tiny tummies full. Chocolate-flavoured almond milk is always a winner!
school lunchbox ideas

2. Toastie Tuesdays

Who can resist a toastie? Crispy on the outside and jampacked with flavour on the inside. Every bite, delicious! The trick however is to make your toastie fresh and have it cool down on a cooling rack before putting it in a lunchbox. No “sweating” keeps your toastie crispy till break time. Most days our girls request a classic cheese toastie but I like surprising them with yummy combinations they would never think to ask for. Remember to add some bite-sized fruits plus water and your lunchbox is ready to go.

Toastie ideas for a school lunchbox:

  • Sundried tomato, basil pesto and mozzarella cheese
  • Ham, cheese & pineapple
  • Mushroom, cheese & thyme
  • Bacon, avo & feta
  • Savoury mince
  • Tomato, onion, cheese & chutney
  • Peanut or seed butter & apple or banana
  • Don’t forget the classics: tuna melt, chicken mayo, ham & cheese, cheese & tomato
school lunchbox ideas

3. Wildcard Wednesdays

The mid-week slump always catches up with us and everyone can do with a bit of a pick-me-up. That’s why Wednesdays are always a surprise!

What will it be? Maybe a mini pizza, a wrap of some sorts, a burger or a hotdog. It could even be leftovers from the night before. And if we don’t have anything “easy” on hand, I simply put together a little grazing lunchbox that includes a variety of snacks such as nuts, crackers, cheese, vegetable crudités, hummus or tzatziki, pickles, olives, dried fruit, cold meats or a hard-boiled egg.

One thing I never forget though is a little mid-week sweet treat. I often go for Amajoya candies and toffees as they are individually wrapped, so I can give the kids just one or two to enjoy. There’s also a sugar-free range to choose from. It’s always a toss-up between the clear fruit flavoured candy bonbons and the creamy strawberry and blackcurrant candy swirls.

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school lunchbox ideas

4. Traditional Thursdays

On Thursdays we keep things simple, sticking to the tried and tested. A typical Thursday school lunchbox usually includes:

  • A sandwich of some sort. Most days it will be a classic PB&J but it could be anything the kids enjoy. Cheese spread, jam, ham and cheese etc. We like to bake our own bread or choose a seeded brown or health loaf. (Please note: some schools have strict guidelines when it comes to including nuts or nut products in school lunchboxes. Be sure to check with your teacher before including any of those. Seed butter is a great alternative to nut products.)
  • I add a single serving of full cream yoghurt – flavoured or plain.
  • A fresh apple or banana is usually on the menu but any fruit will do.
  • Mini cucumbers, cherry tomatoes or fresh snap peas for a serving of veg.
  • I like adding sliced fruit to fresh water for a refreshing drink.
school lunchbox ideas

5. Friday Favourites

Fridays can be stressful because they often feature a school test, like a spelling or maths test. So I make sure to add an encouraging lunchbox note with an Amajoya toffee or two just to remind our girls we love them and we’re always proud of them. (Amajoya’s signature range of toffees with their centre-surprise soft filling is the perfect little indulgence. Smooth, creamy and yum!)

For the rest of the school lunchbox… Well, that’s up to the girls. Fridays are “self-serve” which they love. On a Thursday evening, just before bedtime they join me in the kitchen and put together their own lunchboxes. I offer some guidance to keep things on the healthy side but it’s mainly up to the girls. This really is a great way to foster independence while learning about eating a balanced meal.

Sticking to the days of the weeks has definitely made planning school lunchboxes a little easier and keeps things fun for everyone.

Bon appetit!

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Images by Ruelle Cornfield @health_ish.lifestyle

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