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Fresh lunch box ideas for kids

31 May 2013

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Are you tired of opening your child’s lunch box to discover half of your hard work has been left untouched? Or maybe you listen to whinging “ham sandwiches are boring!” Try these ideas on for size and with any luck you’ll have empty boxes and full tummies.

Make it easy

Giving your kids finger food is one way to make sure eating lunch is as easy as possible. Make your own chicken nuggets by gently coating chopped chicken tenderloins in plain flour, dipping into lightly whisked eggs then coating in breadcrumbs (1/2 cup plain flour, 2 eggs and 1 cup breadcrumbs should be enough for 500g of chicken, or four average servings). Place nuggets on a tray lined with baking paper, lightly spray with oil spray and bake in a preheated 200C oven. Cook for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through. Serve with carrot, cucumber and celery sticks and your kids will fire through the afternoon.

Fritters are also super easy to eat. Stir 1 cup milk and 2 eggs through 1½ cups seasoned self-raising flour, then add flavours to taste, such as sweet corn and zucchini or shredded cooked chicken. Pan fry until golden. Make them more interesting by adding a container of tzatziki dip to eat them with.

Sushi is a great lunch box filler, and to keep it interesting you can switch the fillings really easily. Use this salmon sushi recipe and then replace the salmon with a selection of different fillings like canned tuna, chicken, avocado, prawn or vegies.

Make more of leftovers

When your children are older and happy to eat their lunch with a fork, take advantage of leftovers and add it them to the lunch box as is, or turn them into something entirely different. Try wrapping leftover meatballs in lettuce as a sushi-style treat, or use them as a delicious sandwich filler. Or, you could flake shredded chicken from last night’s roast to make light work of pita pockets, using your kids’ favourite ingredients to whip up something like these tasty sweet chilli chicken pitas. Use leftover pasta in a salad with ham, cheese and cherry tomatoes. Why not try giving your kids leftover frittata, quiche or sausages? As you can see, the list is endless if you plan ahead – it’s great for the budget too!

If your children are a bit more adventurous, try Vietnamese rice paper rolls. Here’s an easy recipe for Chicken Rice Paper Rolls, or you can mix up the fillings as you like.

Top tip: Try making sandwiches with frozen bread or rolls – it thaws by the time lunch comes around but the fillings remain fresh and crisp. Or include a frozen water bottle in their lunch box.

Sometimes, variety is the key. So even if you give the same thing every Monday, just make sure Tuesday’s option is different enough to keep lunchtime excitement levels high.