I always include both vegetables and fruit. We always have at least one fruit and one raw vegetable. I also hide veggies in lots of the dishes I make.
How much of each depends on what is on the menu for breakfast and dinner that day, what I have in the fridge and most of all what Miss E wants to eat. I know many families have an eat what you are given rule, but at lunch time I like to give an option. When I'm not there to encourage her to eat it, I think giving her choice also helps. We went through a stage where she refused to eat anything at Kindy! It turned out that it was because another child had commented on how different her lunches are to everyone else. I have seen that almost all of her classmates have a sandwich made with white bread, sugar loaded yoghurt or custards and muesli bars. These are not foods she can have, nor food I would pack for her. We had a big talk about nourishing her body with foods that make her feel strong, healthy and focussed. It worked and she's back to clearing out her lunch box every day.
I know that most kids won't be happy if you suddenly send them with meatballs, 1/2 an avocado and a salad instead of a sandwich etc. If you want to make the switch, talk about it with your kids and then make the change gradually. What we pack now is definitely not the same as what we would pack when we first started!
A thermos is the best thing I invested in when it comes to lunches! It makes it so easy to pack an allergy friendly sandwich-free lunch. If you don't already have a kids thermos you should definitely look into it!
Here is a list of things that are always a hit when I pack them!
- Chicken wraps. I fry off chicken strips and then pop them in a wrap with avocado, lettuce, carrot and cucumber. I squeeze a little lemon juice on the avocado to stop it from going brown.
- Mini Pizza made with a chickpea flat bread base. I top with lactose free or vegan cheese, ham, bacon, pineapple, veggies, etc. Whatever I have in the cupboard. (You can freeze the flat bread in advance and defrost then top when you are ready to use them)
- Lime and Coconut Meatballs. (I make a big batch and freeze)
- Tuna-not-mornay (Tuna mornay that uses cauliflower puree as the sauce. Recipe is coming)
- Oven Baked Chicken Bites (I make a big batch and freeze them. For lunch boxes I like to make fun shapes using cookie cutters.)
- Creamy Chicken and Bacon Pasta (The thermos always comes home empty when I send this)
- Cooked sausage mixed with pasta and steamed veggies
- "Sandwich" using rice thins. I top with ham and salads.
- Salad (I know most kids won't eat a salad! I like to jazz it up using cutters to make fancy shapes to make it more enticing)
- Half an avocado. (This is Miss E's favourite. I drizzle it with lemon juice to stop it from going brown)
- Homemade garlic wedges. Really easy! I use crushed garlic and olive oil (or garlic infused oil) and brush it onto mountain bread. Cut into triangles and bake for 5 - 10 minutes
- Rice crackers or pretzels with lactose-free or vegan cheese, ham and cucumber rounds
- Fruit/Fruit Salad
- Veggie sticks with guacamole or hummus
- Dried dates, apricots or sultanas
- Apple and Blueberry Squares (These are great to have stored in the freezer and just grab out and defrost the night before)
- Chia Pudding
- Chocolate cake with hidden veggies (recipe coming)
- Jelly made with veggie juice (this is super easy! Recipe coming)