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Lunch Box Ideas

Making a packed lunch for children every day can be quite a test of parents' ingenuity. It's all too easy to fall into a boring routine or a convenience routine of refined foods. Variety, healthy food options and taste are the key – it doesn't have to be difficult or time-consuming.

Below Yum Yum Kids provides some excellent quick and easy tips to make a child's lunchbox a bit more interesting - and healthier!   
 
  • Involve your child
    By giving your child some choice and involving them in the preparation – you will reduce the chance of the lunch coming home with them at the end of the day. Educate your child about healthy food choices and involve them in the shopping/decision making and they will be much more likely to eat the lunch. Expect peers to have an increasing influence on lunch box choices as your child gets older.
 
  • Keeping food fresh and safe
    Before preparing your child’s lunch box, always wash your hands well with warm soapy water and make sure all chopping boards and utensils are clean and dry.  Perishable foods such as diary products, eggs and sliced meats should be kept cool and eaten within about 4 hours of preparation 

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    Yum Yum Kids has a fantastic range of insulated lunch boxes which help to keep food cool and safe.  Click here to find out more.

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  • To keep kids lunches cool and safe put a frozen bottle of water in the lunchbox in the morning. When it’s time to eat, the drink will be icy cold and the food will be beautifully cool and safe to eat!  An insulated lunch box is also a good idea, as it will keep the food inside safe and cool. If you make lunch the night before, keep it in the fridge (below 5°C) overnight. Re-usable sandwich and snack bags are a better option than plastic wrap, as it’s easier for children to manage (and less polluting). For hot food – use a non leak thermos, such as the Foogo Food Jar, to keep foods like soup or pasta delicious and hot. Remember - keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

  • Plan Ahead
    Mornings in most households is a pretty hectic time so planning kids lunches ahead can help alleviate some of that pressure. Think through the lunches you will be preparing for the next week and make sure you buy the ingredients when you do your regular shopping.  Some other ideas are to make the lunch the night before and keep it in the fridge overnight or doing some home baking for school lunches in the weekend and freeze.
     
  • Made just for Kids
    Consider that children generally want to eat quickly so that they can go and play. So try to make lunch food easy to manage and don’t make servings too large. Cut bread into thin slices and cut sandwiches into small shapes to make them easy to eat. Our range of Sandwich Cutters are also an easy way for a sandwich to be cut into fun shapes which appeal to children. Avoid messy food in the lunch box – not only can it leak but if its too challenging to eat, your child simply won’t!
     
  • Yucky Soggy….Stinky Lunch!!
    Kids (like most people) generally aren’t too keen on soggy sandwiches or lunchboxes that smell!! You can stop sandwiches from getting too soggy by minimizing the spreads on sandwiches and removing seeds from tomatoes. The other option is to keep the fillings and bread separate and let your child create their own sandwich at lunchtime. Think about smelly lunch food like boiled eggs and tuna. Although they are fabulously healthy and convenient  – they have the potential to taint all the food in the lunch box and understandably may deter your child from eating their lunch.

  • Lunchboxes and Lunch Bags
    Make sure that your child has a container that seals well to prevent any leaking but is easy to open for your child.  Using a Keep Leaf reusable sandwich & snack bag will not only save you money on gladwrap but you are also helping the environment.

  • Water – Wonderful water
    Always make sure your child has plenty of water with them. Ensure that fresh water is available at the child care centre or school but always make sure your child also has their own water. A great easy to use drink bottle is a must for little ones to ensure they are drinking plenty throughout the day. For the benefits of water and details of other fluids such as fruit juice see articles – Fluid Requirements for Kids and The Place for Juice and Other Fluids.
     

 

Look for a high quality drink bottle that will last and will not leak.  Also to keep your child safe - look for BPA Free alternatives.  Click here for some options.

 

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  • How much Food to Pack?
    This depends on how long your child is at school or childcare – if your child is at school for 6 hours a day, they will need food for morning tea and lunch, while children attending for longer periods will also need afternoon tea. Remember all children should leave home with nice full tummies!! Breakfast is essential to give your child a good start to the day -  it will keep your child’s energy up and help with concentration whilst at school.

 


Food Ideas for the Lunchbox
 

What food to pack?

The common white-bread sandwich is fine occasionally as part of a varied diet but it isn't the only lunch-box option. The key is variety and talking with your child about what they actually will eat – if the lunch is consistently coming home….you need to make some changes!

Here are some Yum Yum ideas to add fun and variation to the lunchbox:

  • Sandwich Alternatives

Mix it up by using a range of breads  (white high fibre, wholemeal, multigrain, rye); pita bread; kebab bread; Turkish bread and bread rolls. Get creative with fillings too - try cold meat, tinned fish, hummus, falafel, avocado/guacamole, and yummy cheeses. Don’t forget traditional fillings such as Vegemite, lettuce, tomato, grated carrot and honey (over 12 months).

  • Fruit

Fresh fruit – any fresh seasonal fruit that is available is great like apples, grapes, kiwifruit, bananas, summer fruits, strawberries, mandarins, blueberries or fejoias – they are easy to eat and kids generally love them. Put softer fruits in their own little pots to avoid them making a mess. Stewed fruit in natural juice is also an option but whole fruit is healthier as it has more fibre and is generally more filling.

Dried fruit is handy for lunchboxes and deliciously sweet. Apricots, raisins, sultanas, figs, currents, mangoes, dates, apple rings, peaches and fruit leathers are all great. Be adventurous – let you child choose dried fruit from the supermarket. Just be aware that some dried fruit has added sugar – try to avoid these as dried fruit doesn’t need any additives.

  • Vegetables

Vegetables are great as finger food or added with other foods. Raw vegetables are so healthy - try red pepper, mushroom, sugar snap peas; cherry tomatoes, green beans, carrot sticks, cucumber, celery (great with cottage cheese) – the possibilities are endless.

  • Salads

Some ideas - rice, pasta, noodle, potato, chickpea, bean or tabbouleh are all delicious and full of goodness. Baked tofu (available ready-made) is another good healthy option which is often a big hit with kids and a tasty alternative to meat.

  • Dairy

Yoghurt and cheese are great options for the lunch box. Remember always keep them cool.

  • Home baking

This can be used as a treat and the great thing is you have control over the ingredients so you can make it as healthy and nutritious as you like. Healthy homemade muffins (bran/fruit), scones or homemade muesli slice is a great way to ensure your kids are getting good complex carbohydrates and fruit. To make it easier, make a large quantity of home baking and freeze it – it will defrost through the day and has the added benefit of keeping the lunchbox cool! Be aware that many commercially made muesli bars or convenience lunch foods are refined, high in additives (salt, sugar or fat) and low in nutrition – so always read the label.

A Note on Nuts

Although nuts are very nutritious they do pose safety risks.  Some children have serious allergies to nuts so ALWAYS consult with your school regarding anaphylactic or nut allergy policies prior to including nuts or products containing nuts in your childs lunchbox. To avoid choking, whole nuts are not recommended for children under 5 years.

  • Other Ideas

Left-overs - Homemade quiche, samosas, or slices of pizza. Left-overs are great and can be a nice change from sandwiches.

Soup in a flask, breadsticks, crackers, healthy dips for dunking (hummus, baba ghanoush, tzatziki), tuna, cold meat, deli meats, tofu, fruit breads, hard boiled eggs (if your kid doesn't mind the smell) or wraps. Don’t leave out sugary foods altogether – home baking, yogurt and fruit are great healthy alternatives and your child won’t feel as if they’re missing out. Remember the occasional treat is fine – so ‘buying lunch’ or a packet of chips is fine as a treat! 


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