Lunch Box Anxiety? How to Cope.

message from mum in lunchboxBack to school means back to packing lunches and snacks- which represents one of the greatest creative conundrums in parenting.  Are you pulling your hair out to come up with new lunch ideas that are nutritious, popular and budget-friendly? Take heart gentle reader- it can be done!

Here are some tips on how to pack lunches that please your wallet and your harshest, pint-sized critics.

Reinvent the Wheel

Not the wheel actually, but take the traditional sandwich and retool it a little. Buy some cookie cutters or edged knives and make good, old-fashioned ham and cheese new and exciting again by cutting corners (literally) and giving sandwiches some shape.

Switch out the Bread

Try substituting tortillas, mini-pitas or even mini-croissants in place of bread in sandwiches. Kids love to fill these handheld wonders with things like meat, cream cheese or veggies. While you are getting essentially the same nutritional value as you would with bread, it’s a whole new meal when you use different “packaging”.

Buy a Thermos

Why not opt for a hot lunch now and then? Kids (especially in the deep freeze of winter, which is sooner than you think!) love a hot meal at midday. It is comforting and nutritious. Things like chicken noodle soup, beans, chicken nuggets or good old mac and cheese make lunch time something to look forward to, instead of endured.

You can use a thermos to keep things cool as well, for dishes like pasta or potato salads.

Some assembly required

While these are words that cause a chill to run through the spine of any parent who has seen those words on the box of a new toy or piece of furniture, the same concept can be a big selling point when it comes to packed lunches.

Use separate containers to pack ingredients for things like nachos (multigrain chips, salsa, cheese and sour cream) or put together a mini-salad bar. Kids like having the element of “control” when putting together a meal. Also, it lets kids that are fussy eaters control their portion sizes.


A multigrain mini-waffle with a smear of cream cheese, jam or both makes for a delicious treat that is a grand departure from your traditional sandwich.

Bored with Bologna?

Does the thought of staring down another bologna/ham/turkey sandwich have your child wanting to skip lunch and head to study hall instead?

Make batches of egg salad or tuna salad, which are far healthier, contain less harmful ingredients and pack a far more significant nutritional punch.

Not only that, these yummy salad sandwiches are economical, and offer a great way to use up leftover meat and fish.


For whatever reason, kids love to dip their food in other food. Why not make that a meal choice?  Instead of your traditional sandwich, pack high-protein hummus and pretzels or tzatziki sauce and torn pita pieces.

For a healthful snack, slice up fruit and dip it in vanilla yogurt. Sliced veggies and a small container of salad dressing is always a hit as well.