Lunch Box Tricks | feed the little ones beaut-i-ful food


Why am I writing about this on a beauty blog? – because as mothers we are responsible for creating beautiful healthy little people and beautifood habits start when we are young.

My eldest started kindergarten today as did quite a few of my friends kids whether it was ‘old fashioned’ pre-school’  where you pack their lunch or primary schoolers and big ones, there was a common theme running thru our personal facebook pages….HELP!

1. I’m after healthy, quick-to-make, packed-lunch ideas for adults and little ones alike. Got anything? {Melinda}

2. I was running around looking for inspiration for snacks. I do wraps for the lunches but it’s the what do I put in to go with the fresh fruit and I don’t want muesli bars and other such crap! {Leanne}

3. James’ first day of school – he is dressed, not fazed and ready an hour ahead of schedule….. I on the other hand am having lunch box issues, I think I chose the wrong type of lunch box, too many clips, it’s so hot today what should I put in it and perhaps i should have bought the blue and not the orange!!!!!!  {Sonya}

There are lots of people out there giving loads of great suggestions – but here is my take so you can keep the prep time short and sweet and a smile on their (& your) dial!


– Yes, there are so many boxes out there and it’s confusing. I now have a drawer dedicated to all shapes and sizes and colours with his labels and her labels. (all plastic. BPA free of course) It’s hard because the shape of your cracker or sandwich or fruit or whatever just doesn’t fit one size and because we don’t use wrappers any more it can fall apart. Then there is the issue of fitting all the shapes into the master ‘cooler’ pack and then the potential of having to split between play lunch and lunch. But it can be done!

For school age kids – just pack everything into one of those cooler bags, the kids can decide what they are going to eat when. Make sure you have enough different shape boxes to fill your pack. EG a sandwich box and little cylinders tubs with screw lids (easier to open than clips) and little rectangular boxes pack into a ‘themed cooler’ bag, personally i love Nudefoods long frosted box with lift up ends and a sambo square well in the middle. Sometimes a zip zeal plastic bag gets you out of a tight spot!

Lunch Box Suppliers: 2. and if you have lots of time on your hands and want to impress 3.


I do it all in one box because I always call lunch the “Surprise Plate” always have, since my kids first started on finger food.  It’s a surprise because there is always a LITTLE treat in there. Something sweet that is homemade or every 2weeks or so maybe a single chocolate or a natural snake.  Because I don’t offer sweet food or ice cream very often – this is the ‘treat’, the surprise.


I keep it really simple and am not changing it! I do put below items a,b,c,d,e in the box no matter what and occasionally f & g.

a) Sandwich – I just do the standard bread – top & bottom, with a filling. Cut in triangles. And guess what it is always the same!  Always avocado, always some dark green leaves. Sometimes,  I add grated carrot, rarely cheese, never meat. Always Burgen Soy-Lin. The slices are not thick, the bread is moist. I keep the loaf in the freezer. Takes 10 mins to defrost – if I stand it up like a pack of cards whilst getting everything ready. The avocado and greens are packed with goodies as is the bread.

b)Crackers with butter and vegemite. I use 9 grain Vitaweet most the time but you get variety by changing the crackers – wholemeal salada, or organic corncakes or Ryvita or something else that has  wholegrain base and ideally low sugar and fat level and if the fat level is not naturally low – then healthy fats. Buy them all, have them in different jars so you and the kids can pick and choose. (as they are great for pm after school snacks too – may be then with peanut butter assuming no allergies)

c)Healthy Sweet – a homemade muffin (with wholemeal flour, reduced fat and sugar, lots of fruit – but I spinkle with a little cinnamon and touch of sugar, not too BIG) and / or biscuit – again along the fibre rich path so that it contain sustainable as well as instant energy.

d) Munch & Crunch – what ever salady things I have, just select three from this choice, but only 1 0r 2 bits of each. red or yellow capsicum triangles, carrot straws, olives, cucumber slices, celery straws, cherry tomatoes, snow peas.

e) Fruit – several different types, in different containers (some for am tea and some for lunch) & yummy stuff. eg strawberries (2), blackberries (just 2 or 3), half a cheek of mango – cross-sliced). or apple quartered, passionfruit cut in half with spoon, slice of watermelon, kiwi fruit in 6 segments, peach, plum. Lots of variety / change

f) Other – optional to change above occasionally – say once ever 5 days: a little tub of popcorn or organic corn chips, japanese seaweed rice crackers, breadsticks, Californian dates (yes those big fat sweet ones) organic sultanas (buy 500g bag and ‘decant’),  (nuts would be fab BUT no go in schools) .

g) Little Treat – one piece of chocolate or natural snake.


Key is to shop and organise your pantry & fridge and fruit bowl to be well stocked at the beginning of the week so ideas come easily on the bits that change.

– Make sure you store the quick ripening fruit and avocadoes on the bench AND in the fridge so you have plenty of fresh and perfectly ripe fruit to last the week. ie  ‘rotate’ your avocado’s and fruit from fridge to bench mid week.

– bake! Muffins or cake (slice ) and freeze ready to go. Or bake bikkies or cookies and pop in a jar. Again – keep it simple, have a repertoire of a few things you can do with your eyes closed. Eg banana cake, one bowl blueberry muffins, Anzac biscuits, raspberry coconut slice. I will add recipes over time.  🙂  If you don’t bake then find brands you trust or visit a bakery and slice and freeze loaf cakes.

– Have plenty of different types of crackers in jars to choose from.

– When you slice up the munch & crunch do enough for a few days to make it easier.

– Get everything out onto the bench at once – all food + lots of containers! (so you don’t go back and forth)

– Get a pattern going re what food fits in what container fits in what pack.

– Pop a cool block in the pack to keep lunch cool

– Show your little ones what is in their lunch box, get ‘buy in’ by getting them involved – but not too often or it will frustrate and slow you down.

– It’s also wise to make the lunches before little ones get up as constant interruptions are irritating!

– some good links: (Sydney markets) CSIRO Wellbeing Plan For Kids  (click on the download) 

There are lots of sandwich or lunch box filler ideas or (tuna, salami, ham, egg, grated carrot, lettuce, sushi, frittata) but I just keep the thinking and prepping as easy as possible. No complaints so far!

Good Luck





5 replies
  1. Ursula Hogben
    Ursula Hogben says:

    Hi Cindy – I just found this on your website, these tips are superb! So much variety for the child, and great healthy nutritious food, but actually pretty simple for a parent to streamline and do each day. Healthy I like, healthy and practical I love! Ursula x

  2. Justine
    Justine says:

    Good tips and tricks as always Cindy! First day today for the monkey and a hassle free start luckily. Good tip for the lunch box as the school has moved to a “rubbish free” zone so glad wrap is out!

    • Cindy Luken
      Cindy Luken says:

      Woohoo Maxi! Tx for popping by Justine – I’ll keep adding recipes and ideas as I find time! Made some great wholemeal buckwheat pikelets on Friday and simple sushi this morning (broke my own guidelines and had no bread!), I’ll re-test and write those up too.

  3. Melinda
    Melinda says:

    GREAT ideas – thanks! I am inspired. So far so good, 2 days down and have had both child and husband well fed and happy … getting much more than the warm devon sandwich I used to take to school! I already have that frosted Nude Food lunch box for Ruby – it’s a good one! We have to separate play lunch out into another container/ brown paper bag though as per preschool’s request, oh well, can’t win ’em all! Looking forward to the baking recipes! And love the idea of putting the vita weats etc into jars … too often my biscuit packets get lost in the cupboard and found months later – nice and stale!

    • Cindy Luken
      Cindy Luken says:

      Tx Mel – Karl had the separate play lunch and lunch last year too. I ways did vegemite vitaweets &/or healthy baked bikkie / cake + fruit. Always different but the same if that makes sense! I did a box in a box for that one to keep the crunchy things crisp. we weren’t allowed brown bags or any ‘wrap’ .


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