First of all a massive THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed to this resource of wonderful insights to what other families and people pack in their lunch boxes for their families and themselves. I think reading other people’s experiences is a massive help for me and have created this to help others as well. Let’s stick together and help one another out. You don’t have to feel alone, stressed out or confused on not knowing what to pack for your children. Everyone is on a different food journey so please read this with a supportive and open mind. We are all in this together. Thank you once again for taking the time to read these and for everyone who has sent in their stories. I will add more as I get them and if you would like to contribute, please email your story to email@example.com
Thank you and have a great day.
My story- Anita from Lunchbox Ideas For Kids
For me I need to pack lunches the night before or day before. That way it’s out of the way and done. If I leave it for the morning of I feel rushed, unorganised and cannot think straight. So I do it usually after or during when I cook dinner the night before while I am chopping up other things. I usually cook double batches of things like zucchini slice and cooked plain pasta to freeze in portions, I make extra servings of rice paper roll ups, buy lots of fruit and veg to prepare and pack easily as well. I like to use up food I have in the freezer and fridges first to save wastage before opening something new. We love using our sectioned lunchboxes (whichever brand I use as I have a few now) and love that I can pack the kids a variety of foods separated. They love that they don’t all mix up together I think as well. I even use one myself which is great if I need a lunch packed. I am thinking of starting to pack my lunches again as my eating has gotten out of hand again and snacking on not so healthy things. So yes, planning or prep for me is a thing I like to do as I know it’s something I can fall back on. At the same time I am relaxed about it all and feel that I would rather pack fresh and healthy things like half an avocado, some fruit, capsicum or carrot sticks and some cheese for easy lunchbox fillers instead of packaged and processed foods like biscuits etc. My kids also love plain cooked popcorn as a treat which is great. Oh, and an easy thing that my kids LOVE is an apple sliced and cored using small cookie cutters to cut the core out. I also soak them in salted water and rinse them to prevent them from going brown. I will add a photo of how to keep fruit like apples and pears from going brown.
I hope some of this helps, I am definitely someone who likes to pack practical and basic things inside the kids lunchboxes.
Happy lunch packing 💟
I am a full time working mother of two fussy children with simple tastes (aged 4 and 7). I make nude, fresh, healthy lunchboxes each morning before work with 90% home made or fresh ingredients. I like to incorporate lots of colour and variety to make the lunchboxes fun to look at and eat.
My tips are:
1. For each food group have a list of what your kids will actually eat. A list of options allow you to easily plan ahead, making it easier for you and anyone else preparing lunchboxes for your kids. Having clear options allows you to buy seasonal fruit and vegetables to get the best value for money.
2. Plan how you can use dinner leftovers either warmed in a food thermos, or turned into something else. For example, if you have burritos for dinner, use leftover wraps in lunchboxes. Use leftover cooked vegetables in rice, noodles, soups, savoury pikelets, salads, pasta or muffins.
3. I don’t have much time mid week to bake, so I do about 1 hr of lunchbox preparation each Sunday (eg bake fresh treats, cut up fruit and vegetables for the next two days). During the week I spend 15-30 mins on two nights with further prep (chopping, baking etc)
4. Keep a variety of food in the freezer, eg mini pizzas, rolls, soups, small portions of cookie dough and other things which can be quickly baked the night before or fresh that morning during breakfast time.
5. With just 2 kids, I don’t need to make large quantities, so I plan how to best use ingredients for multiple items. For example, if I make chocolate balls using condensed milk, I make a half quantity using 1/2 a can of condensed milk, then use the other half can for something else, eg a slice. That decreases waste and increases variety.
If you do make more than you need, surprise another family by sharing your treats and saving someone else time! Why not set up a weekly share/swap with other nearby friends or family on a Sunday night to save yourself time and add variety.
I’m Melissa and I own Trendy Lil Treats, we are an online store http://www.trendyliltreats.com.au and we are also on facebook http://www.facebook.com/trendyliltreats and https://www.facebook.com/groups/665272560182963/ . After having issues getting our first son to eat we embarked on the bento journey and it just grew from there.
I find the best way to pack lunches quick in the mornings is to have baked goods in the freezer ready to go. I always have frozen and fresh baked goods ready to go into the lunches. Another great thing to have on hand is items from the health food isle of the supermarket to top up the lunch boxes. I always ensure I have a sandwich, fruit, cheese, crackers, savoury and sweet snacks each day.
I find having printed and stuck on the pantry a list with the foods from the pantry, fridge, freezer, ideas for thermal jars, etc readily available helps on those days you are lacking motivation and just can’t think what to put into the lunch box, especially when you have had lack of sleep. It also helps if you can’t make lunches and someone else has to step in, this has happened to me recently and hubby stepped up and provided really good, healthy, cute lunches which amazed me.
I always ask my son what themed lunch he wants, sometimes he doesn’t care and I choose what I like and other times he chooses what he wants his sandwiches cut into and which food picks he wants. I find when he chooses he actually eats it all. I find cutting the sandwiches and fruit and adding some extra colour with picks brightens his lunches and hes more enticed to eat. Bento has made a huge difference in our lives, it’s not for everyone but it is certainly for us and our fussy son. It’s amazing what a dump truck sandwich and picks can do and it’s really quick.
I always say kids eat with their eyes. As a mum I find we make do with what we have and what is within our budget. We all do our best to provide healthy lunches and to have happy kids. Groups like this and google are great for finding recipes to assist in making homemade goodies for your child’s lunch box.
Being organized is the key to packing lunches healthy, fast and stress free.
As a Home Ec teacher and working mum of two young girls, I find the best way to tackle lunch boxes is planning, planning, planning! Week nights are busy and lunch boxes need to be simple, healthy, interesting and easy and quick to make.
I batch bake mini muffins and cupcakes, fruit loaves, scrolls, veggie pasties, vegetable pizzas and mini quiches. I cut into small portions and open freeze on trays so I can then pop them into a large ziplock bag and grab what I need out the night before.
I also batch cook soup and other dishes for lunches for my children, my husband and myself. My slow cooker and pressure cooker take the stress out of this. Homemade sausage, veg and beans, ham and pea soup and pumpkin and chorizo soup are family favourites.
I use up leftovers and try to be inventive. I keep puff pastry in my freezer to make leftovers into pies, pasties or scrolls. Leftovers are also reheated in the morning and sent to school in a food thermos. My girls love leftover beef stew or bolognese, amongst other things.
Lunch boxes for me need to be varied as well as healthy. I remember having the most boring lunches as a kid and envying the variety found in my friends lunch boxes. I vowed to make my children’s lunches a lot more interesting. Hence, having a variety of pre baked and prepared meals is super helpful. I intersperse these lunches with crackers and cheese or a ham sandwich. No two lunches are the same in one week!
Fruit and veg….so important in a lunchbox. I hide veg in all of my savoury baking and include dips and chopped veg in lunch boxes. Even adding some lettuce or cucumber slices to a sandwich helps boost their veg intake. I make fruit salads and include chopped fruit in their lunch bags every day. I find fruit is best kept simple.
Lastly, treats…..everyone has their own ideas on this but I allow my girls a small treat in their lunchbox. I cut or bake cakes small and I split packets of chips, crackers or nuts into small bags so they can have either a savoury or sweet snack, but not both. The snack bags are kept in a large tub high on top of my fridge so they have to ask me to pull it down.
Planning ahead is key. Pulling out a frozen item at dinner time means lunches can be packed after the dinner things have been washed up and cleared away and take little more than grabbing a few pre-prepared items. I know what has gone into their lunches but without the stress each day.
Happy lunch preparation and packing everyone!
To make lunchbox packing easier, healthier and much more fun we have a stash of baked goods in the freezer that we can choose from. Most of these contain little or no sugar and definitely no over processed sugar. Additive free and preservative free are our main health choices. Nothing other than homemade and wholefood goes in our lunches.
Chopped fruit is done in the morning and popped into containers, the kids choose what they want. Miss 4 helps by cutting her own fruit now, with her kiddikutter knife. i also send in homemade yoghurt with vanilla, honey and cinnamon for flavouring.
We use food picks, barans and fun shapes to make things appealing. I have a gallery of lunch boxes that my kids have taken to preschool on my blog: http://www.kidgredients.com.au where I post our kid friendly and family friendly meals, snacks and ideas. I also post cooking hacks and quick ideas to save time and money on our Facebook page.
My Top 10 tips for easy mornings packing healthy school lunches.
• Write a list of each child’s favourite sandwich toppings, fruit, vegetables and snacks
• Pre-cut fruit and vegetables and pop them in airtight containers in the fridge the night before.
• Dip fruit like apples and banana’s in citrus juice (like apple or orange juice) to prevent browning.
• Bake in bulk and freeze savoury and sweet muffins, scrolls, pikelets, scones for quick lunchbox snacks.
• Chill cooked foods (like hard boiled eggs) before packing the lunchbox.
• Pack leftovers straight into the lunchbox the night before (corn cobs, pasta).
• Cut food into appropriate bite size pieces to encourage maximum food is eaten in the limited time they get eat.
• Choose an insulated lunchbag that will hold an icepack, lunchbox and morning tea, to keep everything cool for several hours.
• Choose an easy to open but leak-proof water bottle. In summer months add ice cubes or freeze and wrap in a tea towel.
• Ensure they can open and close their lunchbox – as lunches won’t get eaten if they can’t open their lunchbox.
“We want to help encourage and inspire everyone to have a healthy Bento lunchbox every day!” says owner of Little Bento World. Yvette Bowyer. “Along with our unique Bento Lunchboxes, printables and daily lunchbox ideas via Facebook and our blog, Little Bento World has received amazing feedback from our customers on how we have helped them stay motivated to create healthy lunchboxes for their children.”
To learn more about Little Bento World’s Products, Printables and Yvette’s Daily Lunchbox Ideas, visit the website or check out her facebook page.
A link for printable ideas are here- https://littlebentoworld.com/?s=printable&searchsubmit=
Little Bento World
My name is Nicole Williams and I have 2 beautiful girls…1 is 5 yrs in Prep and the other is 3mths…yes a newbie. The challenge is making it simple, healthy, quick and easy to eat. Currently on maternity leave the other aspect is budget!
So here are some basic tips :
· Buy things on special. It is OK if your kids don’t eat strawberries or other expensive fruits…as long as healthy
· Try new cuisines e.g rice paper rolls, cheese dosai, satay skewers.
· Buy meats from wholesale factories. E.g I buy chicken drummets and marinate them with different sauces. Then i freeze in batches which last upto 3 mths
· Make lunch order from canteen a treat for good behaviour. My preppie has to collect good behaviour points to buy things
· Friday she gets a sweet treat (made at home) for the morning as she is very tired being end of the week
· Try n start a bake club with some mums…this way you can bake n share
· If you find it difficult to use leaftovers from large parties, use them as fillings with puff pastry triangles. Freeze and bale at a later date
· For fussy eaters, plan week lunches with them…even take them shopping OR even start your own veggie patch
· Use ingredients differently e.g polenta to make chips or even cupcakes OR zucchini shaved as pasta
I totally feel I must be insane sometimes. I decided to go back to uni as a mature student, with six kids at home and my husband fully supporting this decision to be the sole breadwinner for the three years it will take me to earn my Health Science Health Promotion degree.
Yet, it’s exciting, but means I need to be so much more organised when it comes to preparing food and especially lunches for the kids.
I’ve always prepared the lunches the night before – mornings are chaos in our place, but with only one income, I’ve found that the “convenient” prepacked foods really are more expensive.
The other problem with my “return to school” is that studying health science, I’ve learned SO much about what is and isn’t healthy and really want to try to eliminate all the nasties in my kids lunchboxes. Add this to school limitations of no nuts and preparing healthy, yummy school lunches is a challenge whether you have one kid or six!
These are my super-duper supermum tips that have helped me cope with it all and save a few dollars along the way…
• Prepare the lunches the night before and pop in the fridge
• Make as much as you can yourself – bulk bake cookies and freeze in clip-shut bags ready to pop in lunchboxes (mini muffins/cookies/baby quiches all freeze great)
• Buy on sale or in season fruits only and in bulk if possible
• Invest in a few cute cookie / sandwich cutters to make veges and sandwiches more fun
• If you can afford it buy decent lunchboxes that will last a long time and keep them clean (I use yumboxes for my kids).
• Join facebook groups that can give you inspiration and encouragement
As I am halfway through my degree, I will give you the best tip of all… Remember, always remember, that most of all, whatever you pack for your children, pack it with love, whether it’s prepackaged, store bought food or a cookie you’ve baked yourself .
For some yummy recipes you can check out my blog : http://littlesnowflower.blogspot.com.au/
My name is Angela Osborne and I am a mum to 4 children, I am passionate about healthy food, and have worked in different areas of the food industry for many years.
I started my website www.bentoland.com.au selling Bento boxes, Yumboxes and Bento accessories suitable for the whole family in 2014 .
What must I pack for a healthy lunchbox ?
Make sure you have some great lunchboxes to use, I recommend the Leakproof Yumbox for 1-8 years, then the Shikiri Bento box or Fuel Bento box for 8+ and adults
Each lunchbox should ideally contain one of the following food groups.
1.Grains -Sandwich, Wrap, Mini quiche, Pasta, Fried rice, Muffins, Pancakes, Pizza, Noodles, Sushi, Crackers, Scrolls.
2.Fruit – Grapes, Apple, Mandarin, Banana, Strawberries, Kiwi fruit, Raspberries, Cherry tomatoes. Avocado, Fruit salad, Mango.
3 Veggies – Carrot sticks, Cucumber rounds, Celery, Coleslaw, Sweetcorn, Potato salad
4.Dairy- Cheese cubes or slices, Yogurt, Cream cheese, Custard, Dips.
5.Protein – Boiled eggs, Ham, Roast beef, Meatblls, Chicken balls, Chicken drumsticks,4 bean salad, Fish Fingers, Omelette, Sausage, Tuna.
6. Plus a bottle of water and a small treat occasionally eg Craisins, Dates, Sultanas, Raisins, Yogurt drops,
7 Remember to send lunches in an insulated Lunch bag with ice brick
Prep and save time
1. On the weekend stock up with colourful, fresh, in season fruit and veggies, wash in water with a tablespoon of vinegar and then dry.
2. Prep as much as you can and store in good quality airtight containers . Cut carrots sticks, cucumber rounds, cheese mini cubes, divide grapes into mini bunches, grate cheese etc.
3.Make the following and then freeze, take out the night before to defrost in the fridge – Mini quiches, Healthy slices, Protein balls, Sausage and veggie rolls, Mini muffins savory or sweet, Mini pizzas, Scrolls, Meatballs etc
4. If you are time pressed try freezing sandwiches, Use fresh bread and wrap well in clingwrap some suggestions are Ham and grated cheese, Tuna moistened with a bit of mayo, Vegemite and grated cheese, Cream Cheese, Chopped meat with a bit of mayo. Do not use salad vegetables.
5. If you have leftovers for dinner great! Either send cold or hot in a Mini Thermo eg Spaghetti bolognese, mac and cheese, Cottage pie, Fried rice, Zucchini slice, Lasagne etc.
6. Boil eggs and keep in fridge for a healthy snack.
Make Lunches fun
1. Use your imagination and create fun lunches, Cut fruit and veggies into cute shapes with Bento cutters.
2. Sometimes have a themed lunch eg Hearts, Winter, Easter, Pirates, Flowers etc.
3. Introduce new foods in small amounts.
4. Take time to add an encouraging note and pop in lunchbox.
5. Use an Egg mould to make cute shaped boiled eggs.
6. Sandwich cutters are great for making fun sandwiches.
7. Get your children involved in preparing the food they are much more likely to eat it.