Quick, Healthy and Tasty Lunchbox Ideas: Say Goodbye to Lunchbox Stress!

Feature Articles Thursday, 20 Apr 2023

Fuel Your Day with these Delicious and Nutritious Lunchbox Options!

Article by Susie Holmes

When my grandson first started school, one of the first things my daughter said was that she was feeling lunchbox stress, I asked “What do you mean - lunchbox stress?”.

The stress was about what was she allowed to put in the lunchbox, what she wasn’t allowed to put in… will he eat what she is allowed to put in? She didn’t want to get an email home from the teacher that would cause her lunchbox shame!

I think for my entire schooling, lunches consisted of a cheese and lettuce or vegemite sandwich and an apple in a brown paper bag, except for on Friday’s when my brother and I were allowed 20 cents for a lunch order.

I must say though that I have heard other parents mention the same thing. I feel everyone is experiencing the pressure to perform like a Master Chef when it comes to those darn lunchboxes – thanks Instagram and Pinterest!

Most of us don’t have time to be carving faces on boiled eggs or butterflies out of carrots, so my suggestion is to just remember to select choices from each of the five food groups and make it colourful, and you should pass with flying colours!

A compartmented lunch box is a good idea as it allows for multiple choices and keeps foods separated and tidy. I personally prefer not to find my carrots floating in my yoghurt at lunchtime! I picked up a lunch box at Dollars and Sense that cost $9.99 – it has 5 individual compartments and has been excellent!

There is a wonderful website run by the Cancer Council called Healthy Lunchbox which has some fantastic ideas for lunch box fillers if you need some inspiration! 

To ease lunchbox stress this term, I have put together a few of my favourite healthy recipes.

The 5 basic food groups

  1. Vegetables and legumes/beans
  2. Fruit 
  3. Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties 
  4. Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds, and legumes/beans 
  5. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives 

Choose things like a savoury muffin – they are a clever way of hiding vegetables! Or a zucchini slice, because, let’s face it, any recipe that has lots of cheese in it is usually a winner with most kids! 

Make a couple of dozen muffins at a time as they freeze well. Wraps and sushi are a popular choice. Remember to include your child’s favourite fruit and vegetables – think raw carrots and blueberries. Just make it colourful and you should nail it! The adage “we eat with our eyes” is very true and beautiful colours make food more appetising.

When I cook certain meals for dinner, fried rice or rissoles for example, I always make sure there is enough to have for lunch the next day. Leftovers are cheap, tasty and easy, and best of all you know how the food was made and that your child is eating something they love and that is healthy and nutritious.

Super Easy Zucchini Slice

  1. 375g zucchini, finely grated
  2. 1 large onion, finely chopped
  3. 3 rashers bacon, finely chopped (can be left out for a vegetarian option - you can add extra zucchini or grated carrot instead)
  4. 1 cup grated cheddar cheese1 cup self-raising flour
  5. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  6. 5 eggs
  7. salt, pepper
  8. parsley sprig, to garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced)
  2. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, sifted flour, oil, and lightly beaten eggs
  3. Season with salt and pepperPour into a well-greased lamington tin (16cm x 26cm)
  4. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until well browned
  5. Cut into squares, garnish with parsley, and serve with a green salad

Recipe is suitable to freeze and is great for lunchboxes!

Spinach and Fetta Muffins

  1. Canola oil, to grease
  2. 375g (2 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
  3. 250g (about 1/2 bunch) English spinach, trimmed, washed, dried, shredded
  4. 150g feta, crumbled
  5. 110g (1/2 cup) chopped semi-dried tomatoes
  6. 2 tbsp finely grated parmesan or vegetarian hard cheese (I add about 1/2  cup)
  7. 330ml (1 1/3 cups) milk
  8. 90g butter, melted
  9. 1 egg
  10. 2 tbsp finely grated parmesan or vegetarian hard cheese, extra 
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C
  2. Brush twelve 80ml (1/3-cup) muffin pans with canola oil to lightly grease
  3. Sift flour into a bowl
  4. Add shredded spinach, feta, tomatoes, and parmesan, and stir to combine
  5. Use a fork to whisk together milk, butter, and egg until well combined
  6. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and use a metal spoon to stir until just combined (do not over mix)
  7. Spoon mixture into prepared pans
  8. Sprinkle with extra parmesan
  9. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean 
  10. Turn out onto wire rack to cool
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature

Nut Free Muesli Bar

Makes 12 Bars
  1. 125g butter, chopped
  2. 1/4 cup honey
  3. 1/3 cup caster sugar
  4. 1 cup traditional rolled oats
  5. 1/2 cup sultanas
  6. 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  7. 1/2 cup dried & diced apricots
  8. 1/4 cup pepitas
  9. 2 tbsp Macro white chia seeds
  10. 1/2 cup plain flour
  11. 1 tbsp mixed spice
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan forced
  2. Grease a 20 x 30cm lamington pan
  3. Line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 3cm above edges
  4. Place butter, honey, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat
  5. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved
  6. Simmer for 2 minutes or until mixture reduces slightly
  7. Remove pan from heat
  8. Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a large heatproof bowl
  9. Add butter mixture, stirring to combine
  10. Using back of a metal spoon, press mixture into base of pan to compact
  11. Bake for 25 minutes or until light golden and firm to touch
  12. Cool completely, then slice and serve
  13. Store in an airtight container