Back to School Lunch Ideas

The morning lunchbox scramble is back on. Kick-off the new year the right way with these school lunch ideas that are not only cheaper, but also healthier than canteen or cafe options. All it takes is a little planning and a few tricks.

Ditch the small packets

Foods packaged in individual serves might be convenient, but they are almost always more expensive than buying a bigger pack. Invest in some small reusable containers and make your own mini portions of foods such as crackers, yoghurt, dried fruit and tuna. School lunch box idea: mix together dried fruit, homemade popcorn (so cheap!) and pretzel sticks. Store this in an airtight container in the pantry and scoop into small zip-lock bags or containers as required.

Sandwich swaps

If the classic sanga has fallen out of favour, you don't have to start creating lunchbox masterpieces – just mix it up a little. Try some alternative options, such as wraps, rolls and pita breads, which all store well in the freezer and can be used the same way as bread. To add variety, try out some easy non-sandwich but school healthy lunchbox options:

  • Salads with rice, pasta or couscous.
  • Frittata or quiche.
  • Crackers or rice cakes.
  • A deconstructed sandwich – this is cheese, ham, egg, lettuce, tomato, etc., in bite-sized pieces, no bread.

Advanced lunchboxing

Lots of lunchbox prep can be done the night before, saving precious time in the morning. Try doing this while making dinner for extra efficiency.

  • Veggie sticks: chopped up carrot, celery, capsicum and cucumber will all keep fresh for a few days in the fridge if stored in a container with a couple of wet paper towels to keep them crisp. In the morning, simply throw some in the lunchbox with a small container of cream cheese or dip.
  • Sandwich fillings: grated carrots, sliced cheese and cucumber, and shredded lettuce will all keep fresh in the fridge overnight, ready for assembly in the morning.
  • Freeze ahead: Small homemade muffins, muesli bars and savoury scrolls are great healthy school lunch alternatives to canteen snacks and aren’t as difficult as they might seem. They can all be made in advance and frozen till needed. Just pop them in the lunch box (still frozen) and they will be thawed by recess.

Lunchy leftovers

Make a little extra at dinner and guarantee leftovers by packing them into lunchboxes before sitting down to eat. Foods that travel well include:

  • Homemade pizza
  • Rice salad
  • Vegie patties or rissoles – these also make a great sandwich filling.
  • Quiche
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