Ideas For Healthy Children’s Lunches

By Ellie Smith

3 weeks ago

Jazz up lunchboxes with these nutritious recipes


It’s the ultimate parents conundrum: how do you make mealtimes exciting and healthy at the same time? Here, we focus on healthy kids lunch recipes – both ideas for cooking at home, and for filling lunch boxes. Forget soggy sandwiches and UPFs: here are some lunches kids will actually want to eat, packed with nutritious ingredients that will keep them full until tea time. From oat bars which sneak in carrots to pesto veggie rice and a healthy tuna pasta idea, little eaters will love these fun and approachable recipes.

Healthy Kids Lunch Ideas & Lunchbox Recipes

Spiced Tuna Pasta Salad With Borlotti Beans, Sun-soaked Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

Spiced tuna pasta salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin of tuna in oil/brine 
  • 100g pasta (any shape) 
  • 1/2 red onion, very finely chopped 
  • 1/2 400g tin of borlotti beans 
  • 135g sunsoaked tomatoes in oil (save oil for dressing) 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (not smoked) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules 
  • A big handful of basil leaves, rolled and and cut into thin ribbons 
  • Salt and pepper 

Method:

  1. Cook your pasta according to packet instructions, then drain, rinse with cold water and set aside to drain. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients together then add the pasta, season well with salt and pepper and mix everything together and serve. 

Recipe from Sabrina Ghayour for Amazon Fresh

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato, Feta, Pomegranate Wrap with Apple, Onion and Cucumber Salad

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato

(Approx 45 mins) 

Ingredients:

  • 1 x 200g sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1.5cm cubes approx 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Olive oil 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • 100g feta 

For the apple salad 

  •  1 Braeburn apple, cut into thin half moons 
  • 1/3 cucumber, cut into 1/4 dice 
  • A tablespoon of finely chopped red onion
  • A handful of dill, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil 
  • Good squeeze of lemon juice 
  • Salt and pepper 

To serve 

  • Large handful fresh coriander, finely chopped 
  • Large handful fresh dill, finely chopped 
  • 2 heaped tablespoons greek style yogurt 
  • 50g pomegranate seeds 
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced from root to tip
  • Handful of rocket leaves 
  • 2 tortilla wraps

Method:

  1. In a large frying pan over a medium heat, once hot, drizzle in a little olive oil and then add the sweet potatoes and coat in the oil. Mix the spices together and sprinkle over the sweet potatoes and season generously with salt and pepper and stir to coat. Cook over a gentle medium heat and increase temperature a little and cook for a further 8-10 minutes, stirring to avoid burning. Once cooked, remove and set aside to cool, 
  2. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt together with the finely chopped herbs and season will salt and pepper. 
  3. Combine the ingredients for the apple salad, season well and set aside. 
  4. Divide all the ingredients between two wraps, roll up, serve with salad and enjoy. 

Recipe from Sabrina Ghayour for Amazon Fresh

Parsnip & Sweet Potato Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 1 large, sweet potato (400g), peeled
  • 400g parsnips, peeled
  • 1 1/2 inch chunk of ginger, peeled
  • 2 spring onions
  • ½ a red chilli
  • 5 tablespoons gluten free plain flour
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the dip

  • Medium bunch coriander
  • Small bunch parsley
  • 250g dairy-free Greek-style plain yogurt
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • ½ teaspoon of runny honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pickled jalapeño peppers, to taste
  • Extra lime wedges, to serve

Method:

  1. Grate the sweet potato and parsnips using a box grater and place in a colander. Sprinkle over a ½ teaspoon of salt and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, before using a clean tea towel to squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Meanwhile, finely grate the ginger and finely chop the spring onions. De-seed the chilli and finely slice too.
  2. Tip the sweet potato and parsnip into a large bowl and add the ginger, chopped spring onions and chilli. Sprinkle over the flour and then add 5-6 tablespoons of water. Get in there with your hands to combine everything well.
  3. Heat a shallow layer of oil in a large frying pan. Divide the mixture into 10 small patties and fry 3-4 of the fritters in the pan at a time, for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden all over and hot through.
  4. Transfer to a wire rack on top of a baking tray and place in a low oven to keep warm as you repeat with the remaining fritters. Add a little more oil to the pan as and when you need to.
  5. To make the dip, add the herbs to the bowl of a food processor. Blitz to a chunky paste. Add the yogurt, lime juice, honey and season well.
  6. Add in a few slices of pickled jalapeño peppers to taste and blitz once more. A bit of texture is good here. Pour the dip into a bowl ready for serving.

Recipe from Seasonal Spuds

Thai No-Fishcakes

Thai No-Fishcakes

Ingredients:

For the jackfruit fishcakes

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp plant-based Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tsp soy sauce – plus extra to taste
  • 3 medium potatoes – about 500g
  • 3 spring onions
  • 4cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 nori sheet – optional
  • 1 x 400g can of young green jackfruit
  • 10g fresh coriander
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the Thai-tare sauce

  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp plant-based Thai red curry paste
  • 1 lime
  • 15g fresh ginger
  • 10g coriander leaves – reserved from the fishcakes

To serve

  • 1 lime
  • ½ small fresh red chilli
  • 100g mixed salad

Method:

You’ll need

  • Large Saucepan 
  • Potato masher 
  • Frying pan 
  • Lined baking tray 
  • Scissors
  1. Before you start, preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. First, prep the potatoes. Peel then cut them into 2.5cm chunks and put them in the large pan of cold salted water. Put the pan over a high heat, bring to the boil and cook for 8–12 minutes until tender. Drain the potatoes, tip into a large bowl and mash with a potato masher.
  3. Prepare the fishcake ingredients. Trim and thinly slice the spring onions. Peel the ginger by scraping off the skin with a spoon, then grate. Snip the nori sheet (if using) with scissors into small pieces. Drain the jackfruit, rinse under a cold tap and pat dry with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper. Pull the jackfruit into pieces with two forks, so it resembles flaked tuna. Separate the coriander leaves and stems and chop the stems.
  4. Now, make the fishcakes. Put the frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the spring onion and ginger and sauté for a couple of minutes, then add the jackfruit, coriander stems and nori (if using). Sauté for a further 5 minutes, stirring often, then add the red curry paste and soy sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. When the jackfruit is lightly browned and tastes fantastic, add the mashed potato, mix well, and fry for another 5 minutes, until the potato has browned slightly. Remove from the heat, taste and season to perfection with salt, pepper and a splash more soy sauce
  5. Shape and bake the fishcakes. Leave until cool enough to handle, then use your hands to form the mixture into 6 evenly-sized patties. Place them on the lined baking tray, put in the oven and bake for 17–20 minutes until lightly browned.
  6. Make the Thai-tare sauce and serve. While the fishcakes are baking, make the Thai-tare sauce. Halve the lime and squeeze the juice. Finely chop the reserved coriander leaves. Peel the ginger by scraping off the skin with a spoon, then grate. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to form a paste. Add water if required, to get a dippable, quite loose consistency. Cut the whole lime into wedges and chop the chilli. Serve the fishcakes with the sauce, a small mixed salad and lime wedges.

Recipe from BOSH!

Spinach, Cheese & Apple Muffins

Spinach, cheese and apple muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 150g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 good-sized apple, grated
  • 50g raisins or sultanas
  • 100g spinach leaves, chopped
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • Salt & pepper (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180˚C/Gas 4. Pop some paper muffin cases into a muffin tin.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites and yolks together. Stir in the milk, then the butter.
  3. Stir in the cheese, apple, dried fruit and spinach. If you like, season with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in the flour, until the mixture is just combined – don’t overmix it.
  5. Share the mixture out between your muffin cases, dolloping it in. You don’t need to have a level top or be too precise with this.
  6. Bake for approx. 35 minutes, until the muffins are risen and lightly golden on top. You can test that the middles are cooked by inserting a skewer or cocktail stick – it should come out clean, with no sticky mixture on it.
  7. Let them cool slightly for 5 minutes or so in the muffin tin, then transfer them, still in their paper cases, to a wire cooling rack.

Recipe from Riverford

Carrot and Oat Bars

Carrot and oat bars

Ingredients:

  • 60g coconut oil
  • 60g almond butter, or any other nut butter of your choice
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup, or any other syrup of your choice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 150g rolled oats
  • 60g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 100g carrots, peeled & finely grated
  • 40g dairy-free white chocolate
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Melt the coconut oil and nut butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Turn off the heat and mix in the maple syrup, cinnamon and salt. Now add the oats, walnuts and carrot and mix until everything is coated. Taste and adjust salt or sweetness if necessary.
  2. Line a deep tray or plastic container (24 x 18cm approx.) with baking paper. Now add the carrot mixture and press down with a spatula or the back of the spoon. Clingfilm the tray or place the lid on the container and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes before cutting into 8 equal pieces.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan with a little simmering water, or in the microwave. Drizzle the chocolate on top of the bars and store in containers. They can last up to 5 days in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Recipe from Riverford

Egg and Pesto Veggie Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch onions, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 courgette, grated
  • 4 medium British Lion eggs
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 50g frozen sweetcorn
  • 1 (250g) sachet cooked wholegrain rice
  • 2 tbsp pesto sauce
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat a nonstick frying pan and when hot, add spring onions and grated courgette. Cook for 2 mins, stirring until vegetables are softened. Add the peas and corn and cook for a few minutes until hot. Spoon two thirds of the vegetables into bowl.
  2. Beat the eggs with a little seasoning and pour into the pan with the remaining vegetables. Stir well then cook for 2 mins. Stir again. Shake the pan to level the surface, then cook until the base is golden. 
  3. Slide onto a plate, then flip over back into the pan to cook the other side for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  4. Reheat the rice sachet according to packet instructions. Empty into bowl with the reserved vegetables, add the pesto, tomatoes and mix well.
  5. Slice the omelette in half and then into 2cm wide strips. Roughly chop half the omelette strips add this to the veggie rice and mix. 
  6. Divide between sealable containers then top with the remaining omelette strips. 

Recipe by Carrie Ruxton for British Lion Eggs

Fun and Simple Mini Quiches

Mini quiches

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10-15 minutes
  • Makes 9

Ingredients:

  • 30g watercress, roughly chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 large tortilla wraps (either plain or watercress flavoured)
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 slices honey roast ham
  • More watercress to serve
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ᵒC. Take a 12cm round cookie cutter and cut out 9 circles from your tortilla wraps. Push the circles into the holes of a muffin tin. 
  2. Crack your eggs into a bowl and whisk them together along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add in the chopped watercress and mix together.
  3. Tip the egg mix into a jug and pour carefully into the tortilla cases, not quite filling to the top. Cut the ham slices into squares and place a square on top of each case, then top with half a cherry tomato. Place the quiches into the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, or until egg is set and cooked through.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes before removing from the tin. Serve warm with more watercress on the side.

Recipe from watercress.co.uk