Many parents and workers have asked my advice on how to introduce some variety into packed lunches and teas.

Let’s face it there is very little nutritional value in a sandwich and bag of crisps. Our children always moan that fruit goes yucky in their packed lunch boxes. (I did once invest in a large plastic banana container but all my children were too embarrassed to use it!)

Chocolate and sweets are ok every now and then – after all my motto is “Everything in Moderation” – but they are not doing the job in hand which is to fill a little hole until tea is served. I know that when we bring our kids a sugary snack in the car they’re nagging for dinner as soon as we walk in the door. That’s not to say I don’t give my children chocolate and sweets. I do!

Workers arguably have more choice with their lunches or teas if working late, particularly if they work in a town where there are the large food chains & cafes. But the nutritious lunches cafes sell can be expensive and shop bought lunches are typically packed with nasties. Ever wondered why you’re starving hungry by 3pm?! It could be because two hours earlier you got a sugar hit from the high carb, low protein lunch you ate and now you’re in a slump.

The body needs carbohydrates, protein and fat (we’re talking good fats) for growth, maintenance and energy. With every meal I create I make sure it is balanced with these food groups, even if it’s a packed lunch. I have given some mix and match ideas for kids lunchboxes, adult packed lunches and teas plus healthy snacks for work and post school.

Packed lunch salad ideas

Orzo, Jarred Peppers, Sliced Onion, Mozzarella, Simple Balsamic Dressing
Rice, Ham, Peas, Sautéed Onion
Tuna, Sweetcorn, Pasta, Mayo
Asian Noodles, Shredded Chicken, Sliced Radish, Cucumber, Cashews
Cooked Chicken, Pasta, Romaine Lettuce & Caesar Dressing
Chickpea, Tomatoes, Olives, Onion, Feta Cheese crumbled, Simple Balsamic Dressing
Lentils, Tomatoes, Sautéed Onion, Mozzarella Balls
Pesto, Pasta, Tomatoes, Parmesan or Mozzarella
Pesto, Pasta, Tuna, Rocket
Pesto, Pasta, Chicken, Spinach
Pesto, Pasta, Baby Tomatoes, Mozzarella
Prawns, Pasta, Mayo, Cucumber, Peas
Roasted vegetables, Pasta or Rice or Lentils

Mix and match Formula:-

Choose a carb
Two veg
One protein
One dressing/sauce

Below are some good combinations for dressings shaken in jam jars (which with the lid on can then be kept in the fridge and brought to room temperature 15 minutes before you need to use them). To all of these add herbs such as mint, coriander or dill.

Healthy Snack Ideas for School Pick Up:-

Bagels, Pittas, Wraps, bread rolls filled with ham, egg, cheese, hummus
Vegetable crudités – cucumber, carrot with mini hummus pots
Cooked chicken – drumsticks, skewersBananas, berries, grapes
Bananas, berries, grapes
Mini Cheeses
Edamame Beans