The kids are back to school and with that brings the everyday dread of thinking about what to make them for lunch. The aim is to crack not too boring and nutritionally balanced, in the hope that the lunchbox is returned empty!
I’m here to give you some fresh and easy ideas to take the stress out of the morning school run. They are on a budget, can easily be made in bulk and most are freezable too.
There’s something to suit all kids, the fussy ones, the more adventurous, the big and small appetites, the sweet tooth, the vegetarian, the pizza lover, the bread hater and the breakfast avoiders. Each is a healthy and colourful lunchbox that’ll encourage them to try some new things and have all the energy they need for their classes.
1. Sweetcorn fritters
(Perfect for vegetarians or kids who don’t like eating bread)
Makes 12 bite sized fritters or 4-6 larger fritters
Price: £1.11 (9p per mini fritter or 19p per larger fritter)
- 140g sweetcorn
- 1 tbsp dried chives
- 1 egg
- 15ml milk
- 40g plain flour
- Tsp smoked paprika
- Sunflower oil for shallow frying
Top tip: If your kids don’t like sweetcorn, try grated courgette, ensuring that the courgette has little to no moisture in it by squeezing out in a clean tea towel.
1. In a mixing bowl, whisk your flour, milk and egg to a paste, then add in chives, some salt and paprika, then your drained sweetcorn and fold together.
2. In a frying pan, add a generous amount of sunflower oil.
3. Spoon a large tablespoon of each mixture into the hot pan (be careful) and fry for a few seconds then flip over, pressing down with a spatula until cooked through and golden.
4. Alternatively, you can fry for a few seconds each side until the shape is moulded and finish off in your oven or airfryer.
5. Drain on some kitchen paper. These go well with some ketchup, mayo or sweet chilli sauce.
2. Pizza bagels
Makes 1 half bagel per portion
Price: 56p per portion
- 1 bagel, cut in half
- 1 tsp of tomato purée
- Handful of mozzarella cheese
- 1 mini pepperami stick
- Quarter tsp dried oregano
- Fry light spray oil
1. Spray a little fry light over your bagel, and in an oven or airfryer, preheated to around 180 degrees, add for 30 seconds until slightly toasted.
2. Remove and spread over 1 tsp of the tomato purée.
3. Sprinkle a little oregano, then the cheese, and then lots of little sliced mini pepperamis.
4. Spray a little more fry light over it all and pop back into the airfryer or oven until melted.
5. Can be eaten hot or cold.
3. Nacho chicken dippers
Makes 12 dippers
Price: £5.31 (44p per dipper)
- 1 pack of chicken mini fillets
- Half bag of cheese nacho chips
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 1 egg
- Fry light spray oil
1. Crush your nacho crisps until they are almost like dust. A small blender works well or you can pop into a sandwich bag and bash with a rolling pin.
2. Slice your chicken fillets or thighs in half (length ways for thinner strips), trimming off any fat.
3. Into 3 separate bowls, add a whisked egg, the crushed crisps and some plain flour.
4. First, dip each chicken fillet in the flour, then the egg and then cover generously with the crushed crisps.
5. Pop into a preheated oven or airfryer (180 degrees), spray with a little fry light and bake until cooked through and golden.
6. Serve cold in the lunchbox with a dip. Can also be served hot for their dinner with veg and homemade chips.
5. Ham & cheese roll wraps
Makes 6 mini swirl rolls
- 1 x wrap
- Slices of ham
- Tbsp cream cheese
- Grated cheese
1. Spread some cream cheese over a wrap.
2. Add some ham or sliced chicken.
3. Sprinkle over some grated cheese.
4. And tightly roll all together.
5. Then slice it width ways so you get a cinnamon roll effect.
More cheap packed lunch ideas:
Buy a pack of cheddar biscuits and thinly slice some cheddar and meat of choice - and if they start to get bored, simply switch up the fillings.
Banana oatie & choc chip mini muffins
Perfect for a sweet treat after lunch, a quick energy boost or an on-the-go breakfast!
Makes 10-12 mini muffins or 4-6 large muffins
Price: £2.10 (18p per mini muffin or 35p per larger muffin)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- Handful of chocolate chips, raisins or peanut butter
- 1 very ripe mashed banana
- Cup of rolled oats
- Vanilla bean paste
- Fry light or cupcake case
1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
2. In a mixing bowl mash up your ripe banana with a fork.
3. Whisk in the egg, Greek yogurt, baking powder and baking soda, honey and vanilla paste.
4. Fold in the oats and chocolate chips.
5. Into the mini muffin tray, either spray your fry light or add in a cupcake case.
6. Spoon in the mixture until it’s half full.
7. Bake for 15-20 mins or until golden brown.
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