Today I'm going to share with you how I pack a healthy lunchbox every day for my two children with food allergies and intolerances. I usually make their lunches every morning and I can do both lunchboxes in under 10 minutes (on a good day!). We've been talking about school lunches on my Instagram feed this week and a whopping 83% of you who have kids with allergies send your children to school with a packed lunch. This is much higher than the national average of 60%.
The list below is my mental checklist for a good lunchbox. As a mum, I aim to tick all 6 of these boxes every day. By hitting each of these I hope I'm providing my kids with a balanced meal. I also include what I consider to be a 'treat' a few times a week - something that may not always have great nutritional value but my children will enjoy it. Although health and nutrition is my top priority, I also want my kids to enjoy their lunch. Equally important is the social aspect. They'll see their friends eating those types of foods and kids just want to fit in. This is especially significant for food allergy kids as they so often they have to be different to everyone else.
- Protein - tuna, boiled egg, ham or other deli meat, chicken drumsticks, leftover cooked meat, prawns, houmous, smoked salmon, sausages, cooked meatballs
- Carbs - bread, wraps, pizza, crackers, breadsticks, pasta, new potatoes, oatcakes
- Veggies - cucumber, tomatoes, sweetcorn, carrots, sugar snap peas, celery, red peppers
- Fruit - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, banana, apple, kiwi, mango, melon, pear, orange, satsuma, pineapple, or dried fruit like raisins or apricots
- Healthy Fat - olives, avocado, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil (may be in/on something else e.g. coconut oil in bliss balls or extra virgin olive oil drizzled on pasta salad)
- Treat/Extra - cakes, biscuits, crisps, peperami, dried fruit snacks, flapjacks, packaged snacks, jelly
Here are some of our family's favourite lunchbox recipes:
- Pasta Salad
- Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls
- Gingerbread Biscuits
- Healthy Banana Bread
- Dairy-Free Lunchables - a homemade version of a popular kids lunchbox snack!
Here are some photos of my girls' lunchboxes. These are their real lunchboxes on days when I've taken a quick snap during the morning rush. Please forgive the picture quality!
Note that I have one daughter who is allergic to dairy and soya, but can have cooked milk. My other daughter is intolerant to gluten and lactose. So we have a mixture of different allergy needs catered for in these photos - always check to make sure specific foods are suitable for your child's needs.
I hope this gives you some ideas and inspiration. I also want you to know that lunchboxes don't have to be a perfect work of art. Yes cutting peppers into star shapes looks beautiful, kids love sandwiches shaped like dinosaurs/butterflies and there are some really nice designer lunchboxes out there. If you enjoy that, great! Please keep sharing those pics because they are beautiful! But my kids usually wolf their lunch down as fast as possible so they can go out to play with their friends. I don't think they're going to be admiring the presentation.