In need of some lunchbox inspiration? Fed up with boring snoring sandwiches?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

healthy lunchbox ideas

We’ve been spared the lunchbox conundrum so far owing to the fact four to seven-year-olds in England get free school meals – a benefit we took full advantage of – but now the oldest is in year three we either pay £2.20 a day for the privilege or send her in with a packed lunch.

After three years of school dinners she’s loving the novelty of packed lunches, but the question is how can you keep them exciting week in, week out, without breaking the bank? And, after being dished up a nutritionally balanced hot meal made from scratch every day, how can I make sure her lunches continue to be equally as healthy?

Thankfully we’ve come a long way since the sandwich spread I remember having when I was little (do you remember that stuff? If I think about it hard enough I can still taste the vinegar!) and I’ve discovered it’s not only easier than you think to send them in with a healthy packed lunch they’ll actually eat, but making it yourself can cost less than school dinners too.

As part of our ongoing partnership with Simplyhealth and their #MyEveryStep campaign, which is all about little changes we can make to take better care of ourselves and our families and lead healthier and happier lives, here are 5 healthy lunchbox ideas that are proving a hit in our house.

5 healthy lunchbox ideas for kids


healthy lunchbox ideas

  • Chicken & avocado wrap
  • Houmous & cucumber sticks
  • Grapes (remember to cut them lengthways!)

How to do it:

This lunchbox is super easy and super quick – perfect for a Sunday night or Monday morning if you’ve left things to the last minute. I buy ready-to-eat chicken, but if you’ve got meat left over from a Sunday roast this is great too. Simply take a wrap (I buy the slightly smaller ones you can get in the supermarket) line it with lettuce if they’ll eat it, lay some chicken and avocado strips on top and roll as tightly as you can. Either wrap it up whole or cut it in half so it’s easier for little hands to manage. Houmous and cucumber sticks go really well with this, and a portion of fruit too. And that’s it – done!

Total cost: £1.95
3 of their recommended 5-a-day


healthy lunchbox ideas

  • Smoked salmon pin wheels
  • Pumpkin & carrot rice cakes
  • Dried mango
  • Flapjack

How to do it:

BB has gymnastics and Brownies after school on Tuesdays, so I try and make sure her lunch has lots of protein in it to keep her fuller for longer, and smoked salmon pin wheels have been a favourite in our house ever since they were babies. All you need to do is take two pieces of bread, use a rolling pin to flatten them out, then cut the crusts off. Cover each piece of bread with smoked salmon, then roll the bread length-wise as tight as you can. Cut each piece of bread into 4 and low and behold you’ve got 8 protein-packed pin wheels. If they don’t like smoked salmon, cold meat, cheese and tuna work equally well too. Savoury rice cakes are always great for days when I know she’s going to be active and extra hungry, as are flapjacks with heart-healthy oats to fill her up. Dried mango is a hit too, and a (cheaper) alternative to fresh fruit.

Total cost: £2.15
2 of their recommended 5-a-day


healthy lunchbox ideas

  • Peanut butter & cucumber sandwiches
  • Crisps (baked, not fried)
  • Raspberries
  • Yoghurt

How to do it:

This was my all-time favourite sandwich filling when I was little: crunchy peanut butter with cool cucumber on top – delicious and packed full of protein too. There’s no need for butter with this one: simply take two pieces of bread, spread one side with peanut butter and top with sliced cucumber. Pop the other piece of bread on top and cut into squares (or triangles if that’s your thing) – et voila! There’s no need to miss out if your school is nut-free either – you can get 100% peanut-free soya spread, which is school-approved and looks and tastes just like the real thing in the free-from section in the supermarket. There’s nothing wrong with crisps in moderation – I go for baked ones instead of fried – and a handful of raspberries with a fun yoghurt make it look nice and colourful and appetising.

Total cost: £1.79
3 of their recommended 5-a-day


healthy lunchbox ideas

  • Cheese & tomato rice
  • Plain popcorn
  • Dried apple rings
  • Malt loaf

How to do it:

Rice is a great alternative to sandwiches, and you can hide lots of goodness in it too. BB thinks this rice only contains cheese and tomato when in fact the sauce is made with lots of hidden vegetables, like peppers and mushroom too. Plain popcorn is a great alternative to crisps (make it in a pan with a bit of oil, or if you’ve got a popcorn maker you don’t need to add anything at all) while dried apple rings (you’ll find them in the baking section in the supermarket) mean they’re not faced with sliced fresh apple going brown. Malt loaf is always a hit in our house too, and the lunchbox loaves are the perfect portion size for little people. Don’t forget a fork with this one!

Total cost: £1.51
3 of their recommended 5-a-day


healthy lunchbox ideas

  • Sushi
  • Edamame beans
  • Blueberries
  • Yoghurt

How to do it:

I always remember having a treat in my lunchbox on Fridays when I was little, and it’s a tradition I’d like to carry on. BB loves sushi, which actually makes for a great healthy lunchbox alternative to sandwiches and isn’t as expensive as you might think (don’t worry about it not being in the fridge, an insulated lunchbox is fine). You can get everything you need in the supermarket: sticky rice, fish (speak to your fishmonger to ensure it’s sushi-grade), avocado and nori (that’s the black sheets of seaweed). For the sushi all you need to do is cook and cool the rice, form it into sushi-sized patties with your hands and top with fish (we use salmon). Then for the California rolls, it’s a lot like making Tuesday’s pin wheels. Form a bread-sized square of cooked and cooled rice on a piece of greaseproof paper, lay a piece of the nori on top, then lay pieces of salmon and avocado on top of that. Use the greaseproof paper to roll the whole thing into a long roll as tight as you can, then cut into 4 pieces. If they won’t eat raw fish you can substitute the fish for tuna, cheese – or whatever you want really! Edamame (soy) beans are a great side for this and are super healthy too (you’ll find them in the salad chiller in the supermarket), and a handful of blueberries with a yoghurt will keep them topped up throughout the afternoon. And don’t forget the chop sticks!

Total cost: £3.45
3 of their recommended 5-a-day

Do you struggle to come up with healthy lunchbox ideas week after week? Do you have any go-to recipes that are a favourite in your house? I’d love to hear what they are!

This post was written in collaboration with Simplyhealth. We’re proud to be supporting their #MyEveryStep campaign, shining a light on the little steps we can all take to lead a healthy life every day. As always all opinions are my own and based on my own honest experience. To find out more about Simplyhealth’s #MyEveryStep campaign you can follow @SimplyhealthUK on Twitter and Instagram.

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