LunchBox Recipe Criteria + 10 Fresh Ideas

Lunchbox Friendly Recipes

Yes, it’s that time of year again already. Planning for school lunches. I typically don’t do “mix it up” very well, sticking with a safe, regular rotation. But as I am packing for 2 out my 3 kids this year, I feel that “do better, being super mum is not enough” pressure to lift my game.

In saying that, I do see opportunity for some healthy competition for praise for whoever brings home an empty box (and can look me in the eye to tell me they ate it all).


As a dietitian, I often struggle with finding new ideas/recipes; hence I normally create my own. Many simple recipes I find include processed/high salt ingredients like ham/bacon or claim they are “healthy” and are not. Note to all claimants: putting one reasonably healthy ingredient in a recipe does NOT make it healthy…

But idea fatigue has me searching. Go-to sites are those by parents or that parents have contributed to, as I know they are already proofed and will contain doable ingredients. In this case, and because there were plenty of options, I stuck with Kidspot Kitchen.


Suitability for lunch box is such a personal thing. We all have our own criteria list that is school and child specific. Our lunchbox and recipe pre-cursors are:

  1. Food waste: don’t bother, absolutely coming home again = child dependent.
  2. Is it fiddly/going to take a while to eat? as 10 minutes of forced eating time is not long before the distraction of playtime kicks in.
  3. Meeting the school rules; “nut friendly” and “naked foods” (no wrapping).

Once we have the above sorted, our recipe green light list in order “flickability”:

  1. Ingredients: if I must scroll down on my phone to read the ingredients, it’s off the list.
  2. Nutritional contribution: how is this going to help my kid grow/learn?
  3. Time in preparation and cleaning up.
  4. Steps in the method and cost of ingredients.
  5. Final step: Premeditating my mood and motivation in completing the recipe when I have 3 smallish humans screaming “mummy” on repeat for no obvious reason other than to increase my blood pressure.

As we can see, its quite a challenge to come up with new lunchbox items…


So here is my 10 recipe short list, some of which are mine. Hopefully some of them will pass your long criteria list too. Or atleast inspire you to find something similar.  Please also share in the comments on our FB page any that are in your new ideas list for the year ahead. Also see Kidspot Kitchen for more ideas.

Salmon and Cucumber Sushi from Kidspot: I love this one as it is novel, like something I know the kids love and you can improvise with the ingredients.

Easy Rice Paper Rolls from Kidspot: Make these in advance for the week and put in whatever you want! The kids can get involved in making them too.

Baked Chicken or Fish Strips: I often double this recipe for dinner and have leftovers for lunchbox wraps. The recipe uses chicken but you can use a white firm fish too.

Cheese and Vegemite Scrolls from Kidspot: An “every other day” option, balanced with some lower sodium choices in the lunch box on the same day.  Wholemeal flour = tick and you can again swap out the vegemite for capsicum, tomato, mushroom etc..and do your own flavours. You can also swap out the butter for poly marg.  

Cheese Pesto and Zucchini Lunch Rolls from Kidspot: A perfect tasty vege boost during the day. You may want to ensure you get a nut free pesto for school, like a plain basil. 

Herby Filo Triangles from Kidspot: Helpful for the protein and vegetables and great that you can freeze/pull out to cook – for a rainy-day dinner too.  Always nice to eat cold. Pastry and butter are not typically things I would encourage – but they are in small amounts for each serve and I weigh up the other good stuff they are getting at the same time.

Cornflake Biscuits from Kidspot: It’s hard to find something for the sweet tooth, that is not full of refined sugar + fats.  This still has sugar from the fruits/honey, but the small doses are ok for an every other day addition to the lunch box.

Chunky Pear and Oat Sugar Free Muffins: I have no shame when I put these into my kid’s lunch box. They are full of fibre and the right kind of energy.

Pancakes: Nothing wrong with a high fibre pancake on its own as a lunch box filler!

Crunchy Mini Cookies: Again a high fibre option to add some helpful energy into their day.

Cancer Council NSW has a site for building a healthy lunchbox developed by Dietitians you can check out too. Click here for their link and our free resource page.