Healthy packed lunch ideas for your kids

Jane Rylands, from kitchen appliance manufacturer Belling, shares her favourite healthy recipes for kids’ packed lunches.

It can be difficult getting your kids to be happy with healthy packed lunches, particularly if they’re surrounded by others filled with sweet treats and savoury convenience snacks. However, there are many ways you can show them that having fruit and veg in their lunchboxes and bags doesn’t have to mean having a tasteless and boring lunchtime.

Here, I’ll be sharing my top recipe ideas for children’s packed lunches that are both healthy and delicious.

Broccoli pesto pasta

Healthy lunch - pasta

One of the best ways to get any picky kids to eat their fruit and vegetables is simply to disguise them in foods they see as more appealing. Blitzing broccoli to create an inconspicuous green pesto will mean your kids get an extra portion of vegetables that they might not notice!

Ingredients:

  • ½ head of a small broccoli
  • 60 g pasta
  • 40g grated parmesan
  • 30g fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper (to season)

Method:

  1. Cut the broccoli stalk off and finely chop the florets.
  2. Peel and finely chop the broccoli stalk and then cook it in a pot of boiling salted water for approximately 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the florets to the boiling water and leave until crisp-tender (heated and cooked the whole way through with a snap to it still). This should take about 3 further minutes.
  4. Use a draining spoon to transfer the broccoli to paper towels and pat dry.
  5. Add the pasta to the same pot of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions.
  6. Put the broccoli florets, parmesan, basil, oil and lemon juice into a food processor and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Blend the ingredients in the food processor until the broccoli pesto looks like a smooth purée.
  8. Drain the pasta, keeping at least a quarter of the water in the pan.
  9. Put pasta into a bowl with the broccoli pesto and add sporadic splashes of the pasta water so it doesn’t go dry.
  10. Season with more salt and pepper.
  11. Leave to chill and then store in the fridge.

You could even add more green vegetables to the food processor to pack in some extra goodness that they’ll never detect!

Hummus and veggie tortilla wraps

Healthy lunch - tortilla

Keep things simple with this hummus and veggie wrap that’ll reign supreme over soggy sandwiches. Still packing a crunch from the vegetable choices, these wraps will be a great lunch idea to whip up on the morning of or night before school.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole-wheat tortilla wrap
  • 2 tbsp hummus of your choice
  • 1 small handful of salad leaves (shredded)
  • ¼ carrot (grated)
  • ¼ cucumber (chopped into sticks)
  • ½ avocado (sliced)
  • 1 tbsp tomato salsa
  • 1 tbsp soured cream
  • 30g cheddar cheese (grated)

Method:

  1. Lay the tortilla on a chopping board.
  2. Spread the hummus on the bottom third of the tortilla and put the shredded salad leaves over it.
  3. Put the carrot, cucumber and avocado on top of the salad leaves and hummus.
  4. Spoon the salsa and soured cream into the wrap and sprinkle the cheese on top.
  5. Roll the wrap away from you, making sure to roll it tight and then tuck the bottom edge up to keep everything held inside.
  6. Cut into two pieces and wrap in tin foil to keep it fresh.

These are a great veggie option, but if you want some added protein for your kids, you could add some sliced beef or shredded chicken. Be sure to keep the wraps chilled with an ice pack or by simply packing in a cool water bottle next to it.

Multi-fruit winders

Puréeing your kids’ fruit into a long strip they can tear off and enjoy is sure to make them the envy of their school friends. And, although this recipe may take a little longer than the others (around 3-4 hours for cooking), it should make 15 pieces to last you at least 2 weeks of school — if the kids don’t eat them all before then!

Standing at 39 calories each with 0g of fat, these will make the perfect naturally sweet treat for your little ones. And, don’t forget, you can add as many fruits as you’d like to these. Just be sure to keep them refrigerated so they don’t get stuck to the paper.

By the way, these are the perfect addition for Stuck On You’s Bento Box!

Ingredients:

  • 3 pears (chopped)
  • 300g berries of your choice
  • 1 whole banana (chopped)
  • 1 orange (segmented)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 110 °C (90 °C for fan forced ovens).
  2. Line a baking tray with some non-stick paper.
  3. Cook the pears in a pan with a small amount of water until they’ve softened.
  4. Whizz the tender pears with the remaining fruit until smooth like a purée.
  5. Strain the purée back into the pan through a sieve and bring it to the boil.
  6. Reduce to a low heat and simmer it for 20 minutes, being sure to stir often. The purée will be done when the liquid has reduced by half.
  7. Pour the purée onto a tray and bake for 3-4 hours until completely set.
  8. Leave to stand in the oven.
  9. Peel the set winders off the baking paper and place on a clean baking sheet.
  10. Roll tightly in the new paper and cut into 15 pieces width-ways.

Convincing your kids to eat healthy isn’t always easy, but with my top three recipes you can whip up tasty treats that they’ll always look forward to taking in their lunchboxes.