Be Well food writer and busy mother of two Megan Wood has tried almost everything when it comes to putting together a healthy lunchbox her kids will eat. She shares her tips, ideas and tricks that have been tried and tested on her fussy duo.
• Encourage your kids to help pack their lunchbox
• If something comes home uneaten ask why
• Resist the urge to make the same thing day in and day out, even if they like it
• Cut up large fruit like apples or oranges to make them easier to eat
• Be a bit random – throw in a handful of chickpeas, olives or cherry tomatoes – you never know what they might eat
• Make it fresh - making the lunch the evening before makes mornings easier but a sandwich that has been sitting in the fridge overnight is less likely to be eaten
Brain break/snack time
• A piece of fruit is an obvious choice but if it is a dud it is getting left, so try cutting up pieces of a few different fruits so there is guaranteed to be something they like
• If your school isn't nut free then almonds or cashews can be a great idea, try your kid with mixed nuts first and see what they do/don't like
• Bliss balls are a great high energy snack and you can make a big batch which means you have this part of their lunchbox sorted for the week (try these quinoa bliss balls and more recipes on Eat Well
• Homemade muesli bars are a great idea and are usually very quick to bake, the kids might even help (try the beautiful bars recipe below or find more at eatwell.co.nz
• Plain yoghurt with frozen berries – the berries keep the yoghurt cold #mumhack – prepare in small round reusable containers and save on waste
• Veggie sticks and hummus or smashed avocado with lemon, carrot sticks dipped in peanut butter are surprisingly yum – they may not always get eaten but it feels like a huge win when they do.
• Sandwiches don't have to be a salad extravaganza, cheese and ham is fine, you can add balance in the rest of the lunchbox
• Wraps make a great break from bread, choose wholemeal wraps if you can
• Try a filled pita pocket, or toast pieces of pita bread in the oven with a little olive oil and salt and you have a healthy chip alternative
• Deconstruct it – put all the makings of a sandwich in different compartments of a lunchbox along with some bread or a pita pocket and your kids can either build it themselves or eat the bits they like most
• Bento it up with little bite-sized bits and pieces, in fact homemade sushi makes a great option here too (try your hand at Dr Libby's brown rice sushi, see below)
• Some dinners lend themselves well to cold lunchbox goodies the next day. Some ideas are: homemade pizza, fritters, falafel, quiche, vege samosas (find more recipes on Eat Well).