The kids' lunchboxes will never come home full with these tasty ideas! Check out some of our favourite nutritionists', parenting and food bloggers' ideas for a winning – and healthy - lunchbox combo' …
1. Simple banana bread
"This banana bread is simple and sustaining," says Bianca Slade, author of Wholefood Simply cookbooks, mum of three little ones and healthy food blogger at Wholefood Simply. "It takes only minutes to mix up and is a great source of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates. It is perfect for keeping little bodies and minds full and focused!"
2. Seedy slice
A quick and easy seedy slice recipe that the whole family will love. Photo: Bianca Slade
"This one seldom makes it into the kids' lunchboxes because myself and the man of the house like it a little too much!" laughs Slade. "It is all the goodness of healthy seeds in a delicious crunchy slice."
3. No blend nut-free bliss balls
"This is one of our all-time favourite recipes," says Slade. "It takes only minutes to make with one bowl, a few ingredients and very little mess. The result is divine! The kids will enjoy it as much as the adults do!"
4. Not quite Jersey caramels
"With only two primary ingredients – desiccated coconut and Medjool dates - and a few spare minutes, our take on the classic Jersey caramels are a perfect treat to whip up when you are pressed for time," says Slade, who will be releasing her new digital cookbook on October 1. "Kids love them as a sweet and healthy treat in their lunchbox."
5. Rich and delicious chocolate muffins (with vegetables!)
Carrot and zucchini muffins are a healthy treat to pack into a lunchbox. Photo: Brenda Janschek
"Rich and delicious chocolate muffins with vegetables are nut-free so they make a great lunchbox addition," explains certified health coach and wellness blogger, Brenda Janschek. "It's a decadent and delicious recipe that's also healthy! The addition of carrot and zucchini help to create the wonderfully moist and rich texture, but also inject goodness into the muffin in the form of beta carotene, fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. They can also be frozen and thawed overnight - ready for lunchboxes the next day."
6. Oat, seed and date bars
"Kids will love this oat slice," says Janscheck, who is also a mum of two. "It's tasty and full of goodness with ingredients like butter, oats, seeds and more!"
"Oats can be powerful in lowering cholesterol and, therefore, fighting heart disease. Oats contain insoluble fibre which lowers blood sugar and control diabetes. Sunflower seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with numerous health benefits including the development of the nervous system and reducing bad cholesterol. They are also a great source of protein which is important for building and repairing muscles."
"Chia seeds deserve a special mention as they are highly nutritious and a natural source of essential fatty acids, a great source of fibre, full of antioxidants, protein, amino acids, essential minerals and vitamins."
"It's so quick to make, totally scrumptious, and perfect for lunch boxes. They keep for around three days in an airtight container and make a great breakfast or afternoon tea option too."
7. Apple bircher muesli
You can never go wrong with fruity bircher muesli. Photo by Zoe Bingley-Pullin
"If your child is not a 'morning person' and having them leave for school with a bite of toast is a 'good day,' then packing bircher muesli for morning tea is a great way to ensure your child gets the benefit of a fibre-rich breakfast," suggests celebrity chef and nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin. "Using whole rolled oats, milk/yoghurt and grated apple, this snack can be made the night before or morning of and simply popped straight into the lunchbox and left-overs will store for three to four days. Quinoa flakes can be used for a gluten-free alternative and apple can be replaced with pear."
8. Chickpea, sweet potato and oat patties
"Complex carbohydrates are important to keep children fuelled for a long day of learning and play," explains Bingley-Pullin, who is also the founder of popular online food program Falling In Love with Food. "These patties pack a punch when it comes to complex carbs, fibre, vitamins and minerals. In addition, when sprinkled with chia seeds before baking, these patties serve up a healthy dose of brain supportive fats. Make a batch for dinner and pack leftovers the next day; they can be topped with mashed avocado, hummus or a yoghurt dip for extra healthy fats and protein. Leftovers can be frozen and re-heated for later munching!"
9. Wholemeal pasta with pesto, feta and cherry tomatoes
"Wholemeal pasta is not only a healthy complex carbohydrate but also the ultimate vehicle for serving up extra nutrition," explains Bingley-Pullin. "Here I am talking about pesto! Homemade pesto is packed full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals necessary for energy production, immunity and brain function. If nuts are not allowed at your child's school, simply replace pine nuts with sunflower seeds or omit altogether. If your child doesn't like the taste of basil you can replace with parsley, which is rich in vitamin C. Feta is a source of calcium important for bone and teeth development which will count towards your child's daily calcium intake."
10. Chocolate seed muffins
Kick up the nutrients in your chocolate muffin with some seeds. Photo: Wendy Blume
"These chocolate muffins are packed full of seeds, giving the kids a fantastic protein hit during the day," explains Wendy Blume, author of Vegie Smugglers cookbooks, healthy kids' food blogger and mum of two. "The fat comes from avocado - a sneaky bit of a veggie smuggling that along with the oats rounds out a fantastic lunchbox option. Plus, they freeze well too - for up to two months - making them pretty much perfect."
11. Veggie sticks and dip
Naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea, Lisa Guy recommends celery and carrots as the perfect lunchbox snack. Photo: Lisa Guy
"You can't beat veggie sticks, like carrot, celery, baby cucumbers and snow peas for a healthy and easy lunchbox snack," says naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea, Lisa Guy. "Or try wholemeal crackers with a small container of hummus for a protein-rich chick pea and tahini fix."
12. Healthy protein balls
"Homemade protein balls made with dates, tahini and mixed seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, chia, activated buckinis and coconut are a great, filling energy snack," suggests Guy. "They're packed with protein to keep blood sugar levels balanced and energy levels up, so kids can stay focused through classes!"
13. Fruit and yoghurt snacks
Add muesli and yoghurt in a jar for a fun and kid-friendly snack. Photo: Anna Kucera
"Cover your kids calcium intake with a small tub of sugar-free yoghurt," suggests Guy. "For their fruit and vitamin C fix, and a little dose of extra flavour, add fruit to their lunchbox. Kiwi fruit with a kiwi spoon, a container of grapes or berries, banana, pear, apple or mandarin are all easy fruits for kids to manage at playtime or lunch."
14. Nutritious wraps
"A great alternative to the boring sandwich are wholemeal wraps with lots of salad, and some protein," suggests Guy. "Use leftover roast chicken, lamb, meat balls, fish cakes, chicken patties, falafels, tinned salmon, or grated cheese."
15. Fun food
"Make lunchbox ingredients fun so kids are more likely to enjoy it," suggests parenting and health blogger at 5 Things I Know About, Franki Hobson. "Create 'curly hair' carrot with a grater for a Vitamin A fix, stick 'grape eyes' in moon-shaped apple wedges for fun fruit faces, and if they wont eat their sandwiches and crusts, use cookie cutters to create interesting shapes. Who can resist a star-shaped sandwich?"
16. Banana and coconut bread
"There's no denying kids love a treat in their lunchbox at morning tea time and my coconut banana bread always hits the spot - for my little family and for so many others too!," says nutritionist, personal trainer, whole foods cook and author of Seasons To Share, Jacquelline Alwill. "It's an old favourite that steps away from refined sugars and flours and instead incorporates more nourishing ingredients to give it flavour and nutrition. Dates and bananas provide delicious sweetness with an added bonus of potassium, fibre and B vitamins; brown rice flour and coconut work where once was a wheat flour, offering this snack more nourishing fats from the coconut and whole grain, sustaining energy from brown rice flour, not to mention make it gluten free, which is such a bonus too. It's heavenly and made to impress big and little people alike."
17. Kraut and feta meatballs
Kraut and feta meatballs: a colourful and nutrition-loaded way for children to eat well. Photo: Jacqueline Alwill
"The kids won't know it but within these delish meatballs we've snuck fermented vegetables to improve their digestive health and immunity and some extra vegetables to up the ante on their daily intake of vitamins, minerals and fibre too," says Alwill, who features loads of nutritious tips on her blog, The Brown Paper Bag. "They're a great combination of macronutrients such as protein and fats and with a source of whole grains or some sweet potato wedges in a lunch box make for a wonderfully balanced meal so our kids can thrive."