Five healthy recipes for your kids’ packed lunches

Posted by iChild, September 12, 2018 9:52 AM

By Jane Rylands, of kitchen manufacturer, Belling


Trying to strike the balance between making packed lunches your kids like and ensuring they're still healthy can be tricky. While they might not be willing to tuck into a salad every day, there are ways you can still get some of their 5-a-day into their packed lunches — some more subtle than others.

Here, I'm going to share my top five recipes to ensure your kids’ lunchtimes are interesting and healthy, so read on to find out more!

Soft cheese and veggie tortilla

Sandwiches are a staple in lunch boxes, due to their versatility. But, the usual kids' choice consists of processed lunch meats, and there are plenty of ways you can switch these out for healthier options.
Soft cheese and veggie tortillas are a great choice, which will make sure your kids are getting a good amount of fibre (4g), protein (7g), and carbohydrates (33g) into their diet.

Plus, they don’t cost much to make. All you’ll need is:

- 3 tbsps cream cheese
- ½ tsp dried chives
- ¼ tsp dried dill
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder
- 1 whole-wheat flour tortilla
- 30g fresh baby spinach
- 65g shredded or sliced vegetables — courgettes, carrots, and peppers work well.

To assemble the tortillas, follow this method:

- Mix together the cream cheese, chives, and dill in a bowl.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the tortilla.
- Place the spinach on the tortilla.
- Add the shredded vegetables onto the tortilla — be sure to avoid going too close to the edges, as this will cause overspill.
- Roll the tortilla closed tightly and cut it in half.

To ensure these stay fresh till lunchtime, I recommend putting them in the fridge until it’s time to put them in the lunch box. And, be sure to keep them wrapped in tin foil.

Cheese and fruit kebabs

Grabbing a quick convenience snack to fill your kid’s lunch box can be tempting when you’re limited on time. But, it can be cheaper to pull together something much healthier (and homemade). As these don't require much assembly, you could even get the kids involved in the preparation.

To make these, you’ll need:

- Firm cheese (cubed) — cheddar works well
- Your children’s favourite fruit (chopped up)
- Wooden skewer sticks

The amount of each ingredient you’ll need will depend on how many you want to make.

Once you’ve prepared the ingredients, you can begin threading the ingredients onto the skewer sticks. I recommend putting more fruit than cheese cubes on and alternating the types of fruit used to create a colourful appearance. You could even add some lunch meat like turkey or drizzle some dark chocolate over these and put them in the fridge to set for a lunch box snack that’s bound to go down a treat!

Crinkle cut butternut squash crisps

Sometimes the best way to get picky kids eating their 5-a-day is by disguising vegetables in appealing looking foods. And, there’s no better way to do so than by making their veggies look like their favourite savoury treats. So, if your kid loves savoury convenience foods but hates anything healthy, I have the solution for you: butternut squash crisps.

To make these, you’ll need:

- ½ butternut squash (peeled and deseeded)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Crinkle cutter

You’ll then need to set aside around 35 minutes to prepare these:

- Preheat your oven to 200°C (or 180 °C for fan assisted ovens).
- Cut the butternut squash into slabs about 1cm thick.
- Slice the squash into 0.5cm thick slabs using the crinkle cutter.
- Put the oil, herbs, cumin and salt and pepper into a bowl and combine well.
- Place the slabs into the oil mixture and make sure they’re all well covered.
- Grease a baking tray lightly and bake for around 10-15 minutes, turning halfway and removing when they have a crisp (but not burnt) appearance.

You could even follow this recipe, and use thicker slabs, to make chips to go alongside their dinner. Or, you could change it to include a variety of different vegetable, like carrots or sweet potato.

Tuna and pesto pasta salad

If you’ve been serving up endless lunch box sandwiches, it might be time to try something new. There are plenty of carb-based dishes you can substitute your kids’ usual sandwiches for. Pasta is a family favourite, and is also a cupboard staple, so you should always be able to whip up a quick pasta dish for your kids' lunch boxes, even if it’s last minute.

All you’ll need is:

- ¼ finely chopped red onion
- 1 tbsp green pesto
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 185g tinned tuna in spring water (drained)
- 100g pasta — picking a fun shape like farfalle or spirali can add some excitement into their lunch box
- 3 cherry tomatoes (chopped)

As the recipe is quick, you could even make this for dinner if you’re pushed for time. Just follow this method:

- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
- Drain the pasta in a colander and then set it aside in a bowl to cool.
- Mix the onion, pesto, and oil together in a bowl.
- Add the tuna and tomatoes into the pasta bowl.
- Stir the pesto mix in with the pasta, tuna, and tomatoes.
- Refrigerate once the pasta is completely cold.

Don’t be afraid to add more veggies along the way: crunchy bell peppers, broccoli, and carrots will make for a great tasting and colourful lunch!

Oat and carrot cookies

Occasionally adding a sweet treat into your kids' packed lunches won't cause any harm, especially if it’s one as healthy and tasty as these oat and carrot cookies. Plus, if seeing vegetables going into their cookies won’t put them off, you could even get them involved with the baking process, so you can spend some quality bonding time together.

To start, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients:

- 100g butter (softened)
- 75g brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 carrots (grated)
- 190g self-raising wholemeal flour (sifted)
- 125g rolled oats

You should then follow this method to create your perfect cookies:

- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Line a baking tray with some greaseproof paper.
- Combine the sugar, butter, and cinnamon.
- Add the egg and beat into the mixture thoroughly.
- Put the carrots, oats, and flour in with the rest of the mixture. It shouldn’t feel soggy or too sticky.
- Scoop out tablespoons of mixture and handroll them into balls to put on the baking tray.
- Flatten the balls with a fork — be careful not to press too hard as cookies that are too thin will be at risk of burning.
- Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies begin to brown.

Once the cookies are baked, let them sit in the oven for a minute and then transfer them to a wire cooling rack. These go perfectly with milk, so be sure to pack a small carton of milk for your kids to enjoy with their oat and carrot cookies.

Coming up with healthy ideas to go into your kids' lunch boxes can be difficult. But, with my top five healthy recipe suggestions, you’ll soon have it down to a T. Just don’t be afraid to put your own twist on these to suit your little one's likes and dislikes.

By Jane Rylands, of kitchen manufacturer, Belling


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