6 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas For Kids And Grown Ups
Looking to get out of a lunch box rut? Whether you’re 13 or 40, no one’s immune to that all-too-familiar 11 am stomach grumble. These fresh packed lunch ideas are quick, flavourful and substantial enough to keep the whole family happy until dinnertime.
1. ‘Shake-Shake’ Rice Buddha Bowls
Shake off the stress of the day with a big bowl of rice (or you can use noodles), topped with any or all of the following: crispy veg, protein (leftover chicken, tofu, steak, omelette, the possibilities are endless!), seeds (pumpkin or pine nut work well), slices of creamy avocado and a punchy dressing.
It’s a nutrient-packed way to stay full for hours. Plus, you can skip the queue for the microwave! Just layer it up before you leave home (put your dressing at the bottom under the rice or noodles, with veg at the top to keep it crisp), and give it a good shake-up before chowing down – delicious!
Top tip! Don’t be shy when seasoning the dressing. Cold dishes need an extra flavour boost!
My favourite recipe for a zingy rice salad is our Szechuan-inspired Nutty Bang Bang Chicken & Rice Salad.
2. Wrap it up
This super fast finger food is what packed lunch dreams are made of. Our Smoky Halloumi & Carrot Wraps combine squeaky, salty bites of halloumi with carrot and cumin salad and crispy lamb’s lettuce, all packaged in a sturdy tortilla wrap. Healthy, flavour-packed and takes 20 minutes from start to finish.
Top tip! To avoid soggy wraps, keep your chipotle mayo separate until ready to use. We suggest popping it in a spare cupcake wrapper, or you can reuse a spare sauce pot from your Gousto box.
3. Playground sandwiches – reinvented
No matter what anyone says – sandwiches are still the easiest go-to packed lunch. Quesadillas, I’d argue, are a close second because you can rustle them up with three ingredients: tortilla wraps, cheese and any leftovers you have kicking around (chicken, beans, tofu, you name it!) We bake six in the oven at once (instead of pan-frying them individually) for an easy-peasy dinner-to-lunch staple.
Gousto’s Chicken & Bean Quesadillas With Zesty Slaw with spicy pulled chicken, homemade refried beans and mature cheddar is my personal fave.
Top tip! Use Tupperware with dividers to keep the zesty slaw from making your quesadillas soggy.
4. Not your everyday cheese and pickle sandwich
We love a classic Branston and cheddar sarnie, so we decided to riff on the flavours in this Gousto twist! Inspired by Indian flavours, our Cheddar, Chilli & Mango Naan Toastie will see you smothering Tracklements Mango Chutney all over fluffy naans before piling on grated cheddar, sliced fresh chilli (it still tastes great without it if your kids don’t like spice!), spring onions and spices. Not only does the cheese melt when you pan-fry it, the buttery naan turns golden and crispy too, so no soggy sandwiches when the lunch bell rings!
5. Use-it-up Leftover Pasta
The next time you cook pasta, chuck in the rest of the bag, because cold pasta is (probably) the most versatile leftovers-for-lunch option out there. And – bonus – if you use the wholewheat variety, the complex carbs will keep you and your family satisfied for the whole day.
Here’s how to make one of my favourite easy pasta sauces, Spinach Basil Pesto:
50g fresh spinach leaves
30g fresh basil leaves
70g toasted pine nuts
40g grated hard Italian cheese
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, then 100ml of olive oil for the second step.
Step 1: Blend all the ingredients with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor until nearly smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.
Step 2: Drizzle the remaining olive oil in while processing until a smooth sauce forms.
Top tip! You can freeze your pesto sauce in ice cube trays, perfect for packed lunches in a pinch.
6. The 4 pm Smashed Chickpeas and Pitta Snack
Maybe your lunch just didn’t hit the spot. Maybe you’re working late. Or maybe your kids are always so hungry! Either way, you can’t go wrong with a wholesome snack to keep those junk food cravings at bay. I love throwing some smashed chickpeas into a pot with coriander, parsley, lemon juice, cumin and a generous glug of olive oil. Toss in some pittas and cucumber slices for a pick-me-up that’s quick and easy.
What packed lunches do you and your kids love? If you have any tips (or know what to avoid!), or think I’ve missed anything, let me know in the comments! Or if you want more lunch ideas for you or the kids, check out Healthy Lunchbox Ideas, Healthy Lunchbox Ideas For Kids or Peanut Butter Energy Balls Recipe for nourishing snack ideas.