back to school lunchbox ideas

The kids will be back at school before you know it. And I’m already thinking about lunchboxes. You might have someone starting school for the first time, someone on a special diet, someone complaining they need a bit more variety, someone who never eats what is in there or you just need some new ideas. I always need some new ideas. There is nothing wrong with a vegemite sandwich and piece or two of fruit but my older children are often telling me of their friends with sushi, schnitzel or sausages in their lunchboxes. Oh and chips, I always hear about the kids who get chips in their lunchboxes too. Mine don’t.

Each week I start out with loads of fresh fruit, packs of tortillas, 2 loaves of bread in my freezer, a spinach or salad bag, ham, cheese, hummus, rice crackers and a few other things.  For morning tea and snacks think of a variety of fruit, try something new like raspberries, blueberries or cut up watermelon, homemade biscuits or muesli bars, hummus and crackers and carrot sticks, sultanas, homemade popcorn, cherry tomatoes, an egg sliced up, homemade banana bread or a healthy slice.

For lunch instead of sandwiches think about wraps, frittata, savoury muffins, sushi, rice, cold pasta, cooked quinoa or couscous with tuna or some veggies stirred through, crackers and dip. If you have really picky eaters then leave out the spinach but they will love wraps with something simple inside. Cream cheese and smoked salmon is a nice treat on a friday.

Think about a protein source when you are packing the lunchbox especially if you are packing for a bigger eater or your hubby or someone on a gluten free/special diet. Protein fills you up and if you have a few choices in your fridge then you are sorted for lunchboxes. Cooked chicken (you can do it in the slowcooker the day before or poach some chicken breasts on the stove), cooked eggs sliced up, some canned tuna (out of the can) with some crackers or to put in a wrap during the day.

I have some people with an aversion to lettuce and spinach but I can put at least 3 or 4 pieces in a wrap and it gets eaten even at home. Grated carrot is also great in a wrap. Tomato is a bit hit and miss here with my little customers.

Last words of advice

Keep nuts and peanut butter at home and away from school. Check the school’s food policy as eggs, yoghurt or other foods might be banned if there are serious food allergies.

Always have a spare loaf of bread in your freezer

Buy fruit in season, mandarins are always popular and last well. Have a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter if you don’t already so that kids can pack their own fruit.

Always check school bags for leftover fruit. We’ve had a banana incident and a few apples go bad in the bottom of bags and they can stink out the bag and require a big clean up. You’ll always have one member of the family who leaves some food in their bag.

Make up biscuit dough and keep it in your freezer wrapped up in a log in baking paper with the ends twisted. Take it out, leave it for 5-10 minutes, slice while still frozen and then bake. Perfectly round biscuits.

Have little containers that you can send cut up fruit, crackers, biscuits in as a little snack

I always have a pack of tiny teddies tucked away in my pantry just in case

Quinoa only takes 20 minutes to cook and is great in the fridge and can be used plain or with some salad ingredients and it’s great for older eaters who want something different or complain about boring sandwiches.

Cherry tomatoes last well during the week, are sweet to eat and bright and colourful in a lunchbox.

Don’t pack too much food especially for kindergarten students as it can be too much choice and they just want to play

No chips or chocolate, start out with good habits from kindergarten and then your children won’t ask for them – no, well they might ask for them but at least you haven’t set a precedent

Water, water and more water. Always water. A good drink bottle and ditch the juice or cordial. Again it’s better to start out the good habits in kindergarten and primary school and better for their health and teeth. Even some of my kids who haven’t been big water drinkers are now great because there is nothing else on offer at our house but water. Trust me on it, my 3 and 5 year old are the best water drinkers but it wasn’t always that way.

Ask your kids what they like to eat – if like me you have a vegemite sandwich lover then go with it. Let them cut their own sandwiches and make their own when they start to show an interest. If we’re having a crazy morning then it’s not uncommon for me to ask my big 3 to make their own sandwiches with some help from me as I run past!



  1. Thanks for the inspiration Corrie!
    Gorgeous post as always xx

  2. Great ideas! Where are the lunch boxes from? I have been searching for something that works well with dips and yogurt and these look perfect.

    • yumbox is the plastic and pink one and the lunchbots are the stainless steel ones, I got mine from biome an online store and delivered in a week. They are all so lovely and lots of sections to fill up. They aren’t huge enough for a sandwich so you’d need to go bigger if you want to pack a sandwich in there too.
      Hope that helps:) I’m really happy with the ones I got!

  3. Hi corrie, thank you for the post – some great ideas here. I would be interested to know what you think of your stainless steel lunchbots as I have been very disappointed with mine 🙁 for a few reasons – the lids are not a tight enough fit, falling off in bags and making a huge mess, the size is very small and not adequate for even the smallest eater and the color has chipped off over time despite hand washing as instructed. Hopefully you have a better experience! But I do love the stainless steel aspect! I have gone with bentology bento lunch boxes this year so we’ll see how this goes!

    • ahhhhh I don’t know that I wanted to read your post after buying 4 of them! wish me luck!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Ooh sorry! Don’t worry – I find they are still handy to have to take snacks to sports and activities and whilst out and about. I now put a rubber band around to hold lid on tightly in bags – not the nicest look but does the job. I bought mine a year or so ago so maybe they have improved the lid fit and colour chipping off lids by now. I just wish they were a bit bigger for school days but you can get around it by adding other containers for extra food. The base is so strong – mine looks good as new wth no signs of wear so that’s a plus! Sorry to make you worry – I was just interested to see what you think of yours too.

  4. I should take these great ideas on board and take a good lunchbox to work. I’m over 50 but still very fussy, but these nice plain wholesome foods look tempting even to me.

    I have figured a few of my aversions in the past year though, and some useful alternatives. One may be relevant – I don’t mind lettuce/spinach leaves but I hate the stalks! Have you tried cutting them off?

  5. Can you please tell me more detail about how you cook the chicken in the slow cooker? A whole chicken or just breasts or whatever? What liquid do you cook in? Any vegetables added? How long for and on high or low? Sorry for too many questions but I would love to have an easy means of always having cooked chicken on hand!

    • oh good, this is how I’m doing chicken at the moment and I love it. 1 whole chicken, 2 carrots roughly chopped, 2 stalks celery roughly chopped, 1 onion, bit of garlic all in a big saucepan and cover with water so that most of the chicken is covered. Bring to a boil, it doesn’t take too long then simmer. At this point I scoop off the scum that has formed on the top of the liquid. Leave it on the stove on a low heat/simmering for 1 hour 20 or 1 hour 30 minutes. The chicken will be cooked right through. I turn off the heat and leave it for another 10 minutes. Take out the chicken and leave to cool so you can handle it. Pull off the meat and put in a container or the kids might eat it for dinner. Remove the vegetables and you can serve the chicken and vegetables with a spoon or two of the liquid. Save the liquid as you’ve got beautiful chicken stock. I put mine into a few mason jars and label and put in my freezer. I think I need to do a blog post on this
      A quicker way when you are in a rush is to buy chicken breasts, put in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to the boil then simmer for about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken and let it cool then refrigerate.
      Hope that helps:)

  6. Thanks for posting this. I’m going to look for similar lunch boxes in the UK to get a bit of variety into my boys lunches. My younger son would probably eat a lot more of his lunch if he had more variety of things to graze.. Thanks for the idea!

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