Starting school can be daunting for children but it is also daunting for parents who are joining the lunchbox gang.

13 years of school means TWO THOUSAND, SIX HUNDRED LUNCHBOXES! Ye-what! You have to laugh in a kind of psychotic corner rocking style motion don’t you?!

Of course, it is important, as we all know that food is energy and fuel for our children’s brains and bodies, to learn and play at school. But it doesn’t have to be scary and it can be super simple.

In this post we will cover the 3 key points, without the fluff, that you will need to create a lunchbox day in, day out, 2600 times.

Step 1:

What meal breaks does the school have?

Crunch and sip?



Afternoon break?

And how do the teachers, especially in the early years, like the meal components to be separated? i.e. crunch and sip in a separate container to bring into class.

Also confirm what allergies are in the class or food requirements the school might ask you to respect. Our current school enforces a “no packaging rule” and we have no allergy requirements, although children are not to share food. Therefore you will see some of our personal lunchboxes with nuts in them but many schools do not allow any nuts.



Step 2:

What kind of foods go into a lunchbox?

Like with any meal planning or menu there are some guidelines to aim for.

And the aim for lunchboxes are exactly the same.

  1. Eat nude

Eat as many wholefoods as possible. Avoid packaged snacks for health and the environment.

  1. Eat plants

Add in as many veggies and fruits (and seeds and nuts if possible). Most schools have a fruit and veg break or crunch and sip each day, but also try and add some veggies in another part of their lunchbox. You can never have too many vegetables.

  1. Eat a variety of food groups

This is for a varied nutritional profile but also for helping with any energy spikes from sugars, even natural sugars in fruit or complex carbohydrates. Combining protein with carbohydrates such as fruits and yoghurt or hommus dips with crackers, will maintain a slower release of energy which is helpful for little kids’ attention spans over the day.

  1. Eat a rainbow

The simplest way to incorporate nutritional diversity, especially for kids, is to aspire to eat a rainbow every day. This is for all the food groups.

  1. Drink water! Always water.

There are no benefits of having juices, flavoured milks or other beverages with low nutrient density in lunchboxes. They are not part of an everyday menu and are very much part of the sometimes category of foods and drinks. Just stick to water.



A simple lunchbox combo might have:

  • Morning tea

Preferably a homemade snack that you can make in bulk and use for a week or fortnight basis (think baked goods, slices, dips,). There are many better packaged morning tea options on the market but due to cost, the environment and often health reasons, the preferred option is nude and home created.

  • Main meal

Leftovers from dinner the night before #leftoversarelife or a roll/wrap or something like a frittata or savoury slice.

  • Rainbow brilliant fruits and veggies
  • A water bottle
  • An icepack (or two) for foods that should be kept cool.

And VOILA! You are done.

Step 3:

What are some lunchbox recipes ideas?

Lunchboxes are very personal and individual to each child as some children like to eat a lot at school, others prefer to graze, and others eat an apple and a cracker as they just want to play.

The most important thing is to work with your kids as to what foods or meals they would like to eat and will MANAGE to eat during the day. Nobody wants you to be throwing out masses of food each day.

Think of the first few weeks of school as a trial and error period and expect that each season or term, (for a few days) as the same, until you get into a rhythm.

Of course there is what they want (salt and vinegar chips) and what you will allow (crackers with some dip), but it IS important to allow your child to have some choice within your family food requirements or philosophy.

The Division of Responsibility still applies to lunchboxes but we also don’t want waste.

Make a list with each other before each term (if you need some inspiration, check out the family menu plan which has 4 weeks of menu plans with many of them being transferable to lunchboxes) and for the older children, allocate what they can help with, prep or even cook each week. I am a huge believer of children learning how to cook and it also helps you as a parent navigate this repetitive, but necessary, daily routine.



I hope these 3 simple steps will help you as you start on your lunchbox loving journey. I also hope you little one has a fabulous year of school of learning and playing.

You can follow along for some simple lunchbox ideas on instagram with #littlepeoplelunchbox

Or we also have our two family menu plans  as part of our Little People Menu range, with over 50 recipes in each. Almost all of them can be converted into lunchbox food, especially if you believe like me that #leftoversarelife


Thanks for being here.