Whilst wholesome sandwiches might be nutritious, most kids tire of the same thing for lunch day after day. Let's take a look at how to liven up those school lunchboxes, so they don't end up in the garbage!

Know your Child's Tastes
So you pack your child's lunch, diligently balancing the offerings to comply with the Food Pyramid Guidelines, but, how to you know it's not ending up in the garbage? One of the most obvious points is to not only know, but acknowledge the tastes of your child. If they won't eat carrots at home, they're certainly not going to eat them at school. Ask your child what he/she would like for lunch, and let them get involved in the planning and packing process. Plan lunches in advance and pack them up the night before, if possible.

Let your child help pick out the lunchbox. If your child is embarrassed by their lunchbox, chances are it will stay hidden and untouched in their bag.

Choose a lunchbox with a thermos and an insulated section where you can put cold foods.

During warm seasons, freeze juice or drink boxes the night before to be used to keep foods cold. They will thaw by lunchtime, while doing double-duty keeping companion foods chilled. Or, you can also invest in miniature cold packs, which are available from travel sections, and kitchenware sections that sell esky's in department stores.


  • Choose fruits that are easy to eat and not messy.
  • Be sure to peel fruits that need it, and cut them into finger-size pieces for younger children.
  • Write a riddle or a cryptic question on the peel of a banana or orange or draw a cartoon picture with words of endearment or encouragement to brighten up the day.
  • Vary the bread offerings from plain sliced bread to raisin bread, pita pockets, dinner rolls, flour tortillas, or mini-bagels.
  • Rice cakes are a fun addition. Pack tuna or chicken salad, peanut butter or cheese spread in a separate container to be spooned on at lunchtime so the cakes don't get soggy.
  • Include mini cans of tuna with a fork, sometimes kids just like the filling without the bread. Tuna comes flavoured today in a number of varieties; check them out at your local supermarket.
  • If your child likes cold pizza, send it along for lunch! Pizza is actually not a bad choice.
  • Mini-muffins are the perfect size for kids' lunches. Use your favourite recipe, but smaller tins, and bake 12-15 minutes.
  • A thermos of hot soup is perfect for cold days, along with fresh bread rolls. Cut sandwiches into diamonds, triangles, rectangles, or other fun shapes. Kids seem to think they taste better this way!
  • Make your own health mix at home using your child's favourite cereal, fruits and nuts. Toss in a few fruit jubes as a surprise.
  • Send along fruit salad in a container to mix with yoghurt.
  • Mix cream cheese with raisins and a dash of honey to spread on wheatmeal biscuits. It doesn't have to be a sandwich.
  • Pack cheese and ham chunks with a honey mustard sauce for dipping.
  • Finger foods always go over well. Look over your favourite hors d'oeuvre recipes with your child's lunch in mind. Consider savoury blinis with cream cheese and tuna or smoked salmon if they like it.
  • Thai fish cakes are great cold, meat balls or rissoles work well too.
  • Muesli bars and fruit rollups will satisfy that sweet tooth, but be sure to read labels. Some are not as healthy as manufacturers like you to think.
  • Mix shredded carrots with raisins, unflavoured yoghurt and a bit of honey for a crunchy salad.
  • Make fruit kebabs of cubes of their favourite fruits and send along with a container of sour cream mixed with some crushed almond macaroon biscuits mixed in. Great dip for fruit.
  • An old favourite is Ants on a Log. Fill celery sticks with cream cheese, sprinkle with grated carrot, and push in raisins for ants.
  • Hummus and Lebanese bread strips make a fun protein-filled addition.
  • Cut veggies into finger food-size, and accompany with seasoned cream cheese for dipping.