Lunchbox ideas and recipes

Pasta salad, couscous, home-made muffins and sushi rolls - try Annabel Karmel's tempting recipe ideas to liven up lunchtimes

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We all know how difficult it is to constantly think up delicious, varied lunchboxes, which our children will actually eat. We also know it’s important to make our children’s lunchboxes as healthy and balanced as the food we’d give them at home. 

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So what should the ideal lunchbox contain?

The NHS advises:

  • Protein: meat, fish, eggs, beans, etc
  • Starchy foods: such as bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, etc
  • A dairy item: such as cheese or yoghurt
  • Vegetables, salad or a portion of fruit

Try these lunchbox recipes by Annabel Karmel

Looking for ideas? Try these tasty recipes from food and parenting expert, Annabel Karmel…

How to get your child to eat a packed lunch (without crisps)

Annabel Karmel shares her top tips on packing a lunchbox with irresistible but healthy food

  • Together with your child, plan what’s going in the lunchbox two or three days ahead. If you can, spend time together at the weekend preparing some food for the week ahead.
  • Sandwiches are a safe bet, but growing children need variety. Try pitta pockets with fillings like tuna, chopped egg, sweetcorn and mayonnaise. Or consider making sandwiches from ciabatta, bagels or tortilla wraps.
  • Raw vegetables tend to be popular with children, especially with a tasty hummus dip. Prepare sticks of carrot, sweet pepper and cucumber, and wrap them in damp kitchen paper to prevent them drying out.
  • Crisps and chocolate biscuits tend to contain few nutrients and too much salt, sugar, additives and saturated fat. Instead, try offering Twiglets, rice cakes, toasted seeds flavoured with honey and yoghurt-covered raisins or dried apricots.
  • With some schools banning chocolate, cereal bars are often substituted for confectionery or biscuits. However, it is well worth checking the labels, as some cereal bars have a very high sugar and fat content. For a more nutritious alternative, why not make your own muffins, like mine?
  • A healthy lunch won’t get their vote if it doesn’t look appealing. Simple touches can make all the difference such as bite-size chunks of fruit threaded onto a straw.
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For more mealtime inspiration try Annabel Karmel’s Favourites – a new series of 10 mini recipe books covering everything from lunchboxes, to kids in the kitchen and family meals. Available at Sainsbury’s (£4.99 for two).

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