Note: This Guide replaces my Ultimate Lunchbox Resource that was previously on the blog.
Lunchboxes are something I get quite excited about. I don’t know why but it is something I get a kick out of. Crazy I know.
I can appreciate that lunchbox ideas are often hard. We end up repeating the same thing day in and day out, not that children mind all that much I’ve found. It’s always good to add some variety though.
I’ve created this guide for you to make lunchbox filling just that little bit more easy but also fun and to encourage children being involved in the process. This booklet has a broad selection of ideas. They will not suit everyone, allergies and eating styles.
Included are a variety of printables that make lunchbox planning easy and organised as well as a few extra goodies to make it fun also.
I hope you find this useful and it makes life that little bit easier.
2015 TRTLMT Back To School Guide
In January I released my 2015 TRTLMT Back to School guide which was a hit! Full of recipes, tips, printables. Similar to this post but printable!
Download your printable copy here: 2015 TRTLMT Back To School Guide
Tips for easier lunchbox prep:
- A lot of schools now have exclusions on some food items such as eggs or nuts. Check with your school to ensure you pack a safe lunchbox for all (we all know how kiddies love to share their food)
- Involve the children in planning their lunchboxes. They will be much more likely to eat what is in it is they have had ownership over it (and no I don’t mean letting them pick lollies and chips only). Use our lunchbox planners to help with this process.
- Ensure the lunchbox and drink bottle are age appropriate and easy to use. Nobody wants to battle a hard to open clip when hungry (or hangry in my case!).
- Pack lunchboxes the night ahead if possible. This saves time in the morning if you know you will be in a rush. I often will pack the night before and then in the morning just add the last minute pantry items that would go soggy if placed into the fridge.
- Prepare ahead wherever possible. Sandwiches with fillings such as cheese and ham, jam, nut butters, vegemite and cheese freeze very well. If space allows, make up enough sandwiches at the beginning of the week and freeze in freezer safe sandwich containers or zip lock bags. Simply pull out of the freezer and pop into the lunchbox to thaw. Frozen fruit such as orange quarters, grapes and banana also help.
- Lunch doesn’t always mean sandwiches. Leftover chicken drumsticks, sausages, sausage rolls, meatballs, quiches and wraps all make great lunchbox additions. My kiddies enjoy these cold but if your school has a microwave even better!
- I say this all the time but bake in bulk and freeze. There are a variety of muffins, cakes and biscuits on the blog that are great for the freezer. I store them in ziplock bags or wrap in aluminium foil and cling film and place into a freezer safe container. You want to avoid freezer burn. * Indicates items are freezable in the recipe section.
- Most vegetables and fruit do really well stored, cut up in containers for up to a week, particularly if you have a specific fridge container system. At the beginning of the week, chop up your fruit and vegetables in to bite size pieces and keep in individual containers that you can grab in the morning or in a large container and portion out as needed.
- Ensure you use ice bricks especially in warmer months to keep food fresh. A wet sponge frozen and placed in to a ziplock bag makes a great DIY ice brick. I love making frozen yoghurts and slushies, freeze them in reusuable pouches and pop into the lunch box. Even frozen muffins or slices of cake make great mini ice bricks and thaw in time for morning tea.
- To prevent apple or pears from browning once cut, cover with a little lemon juice. Or soak in little water that has a teaspoon of citric acid added to it. Drain and pop into the lunchbox. Another great tip is cut the apple into quarters and remove the core. Place the apple together again so it looks whole and place a food safe rubber band around it.
- Make it fun! No one said lunch had to be boring. Include lots of colour, tastes and textures. There are some great businesses featured in this guide that sell amazing lunchbox goodies to make lunch that little bit more enjoyable.
I have a large range of FREE Printables to make lunchbox filling even easier. These are great printed, laminated and placed on the fridge or inside the pantry with a thin whiteboard marker. They even work well in a nice photo frame on the kitchen bench. Simply use a thin white board marker to write down your ideas. They can be wiped clean with a standard cloth. This is a great activity to do with the kiddies and get them involved in what they eat.
I need some lunchbox filler ideas!
Some of the below can easily be made in your Thermomix!
- Yoghurt/frozen yoghurt tub
- Custard tub
- Rice or chia pudding, tapioca, junket etc
- Veggie sticks and dip
- French onion
- Tortilla/corn chips and guacamole
- Fruit salad tubs or fruit kebabs
- Fresh fruit in whole pieces
- Stewed fruit
- Dried fruit medley (a great tip: if you are giving dried fruits to children it is always a great idea to serve veggie sticks along with it. The veggies help clean the teeth after the sugary dried fruit!)
- Dried cereal: Nutrigrain, Cheerios, Weety Bix Bites etc
- Rice crackers and cheese or dip
- Cornthins/Cruskits/Saos with:
- Vegemite and cheese
- Cheese and tomato
- Mashed banana
- Cucumber and cheese
- Ham and cheese
- Fruit bars, fruit straps, fruit roll ups, fruit balls
- Fruit and cereal bars
- Trail mix
- Plain popcorn, flavoured popcorn, puffed corn
- Raisin bread with butter/jam
- Pikelets and pancakes
- Muffins – both sweet and savoury
- Scones – both savoury and sweet
- Banana bread, fruit loaf
- English muffin or crumpet
- Vegetable or fruit chips
- Bliss balls
- Baked beans
- Biscuits and cookies
- Boiled eggs
- Cheese sticks or shapes
- Use a small cutter and slices of block cheese to cut out fun shape
Main meals that don’t require heating:
- Wraps and mountain bread
- Rolls and buns, turkish pide bread, foccacia
- Pizza, pizza pockets, pizza balls
- Sausage rolls
- Veggie patties, falafal, lentil burgers, risotto balls
- Tuna or salmon balls/burgers
- Quiche, frittata, zucchini slice, fritters, bubble and squek
- Salads and cold pasta or rice salads
- Cold meat and salads
- Shredded meats
- Baked beans
- Four bean mix and salad
- Pita pockets with fillings
- Toasted sandwich (cool then wrap)
- Pull Aparts
- Gozleme, pides
Some other handy resources:
TRTLMT Sweet snack recipes:
Balls and Small Bites
Most cookie dough can be frozen prior to cooking. Just wrap it really well prior to popping it into the freezer.
Breads and Loaves
Muffins and Cupcakes
These can all be frozen after cooking.
Pancakes and Pikelets
Slices and Bars
TRTLMT Savoury Snack Ideas:
TRTLMT Main Lunch Ideas:
- Bread: Most bread can be frozen after making. When freezing bread freeze in serving size portions in ziplock bags or cling film and aluminum foil. When freezing tortillas or wraps, be sure to place some freezer “go between”, baking paper or saved plastic sheets from your store bought puff pastry to layer between each sheet. You can freeze dough as well. be sure to let it thaw, give it a knead (I recommend 4-6 minutes if its for bread, a little less for pizza dough) and then let rise and top/fill once doubled in size.
Easy to hold/package meals that can be consumed cold:
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