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They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but we think lunch is a very close second for your little one.

It’s when they refuel for an afternoon of hard work at school or nursery, and that’s why it’s important to pack them a tasty packed lunch they’ll enjoy, to keep them going until home time. Here are some healthy lunch box ideas for kids (but a lot of them will work for you, too).

Prepare healthy packed lunches in advance

School mornings are hectic enough, so get prepped and packed the night before to avoid adding to the mayhem. Take a look at our Snacks section for quick recipes that will let you have the kids’ lunch boxes ready and in the fridge before bedtime.

If you’re really pushed for time, prepare the sandwiches at the weekend, wrap them in cling film and freeze them. In the morning, just pop one in their lunch box and leave to defrost slowly – trust us, this really works.

Lunch box ideas from leftovers

Made a big bowl of pasta or salad for dinner? Why don’t you let it cool, then pack some up in a sealable plastic tub ready for tomorrow’s lunch? There’s no waste and it means minimal lunchbox prepping, too – win/win! Another of our leftover-based lunch box ideas is to make pancakes the night before, then fill them with cheese, ham, or whatever healthy option you know your child will enjoy. You could even let them help with one of our pancake recipes!

Let the kids to help with healthy lunch box ideas they’ll like

Kids are more likely to eat food that they feel involved with preparing, so why not offer your little one the choice of what they’d like in their lunchbox. It could be as simple as them helping to make their sandwich, or them joining the weekly shop to pick a new fruit or vegetable to try.

Change up your child’s packed lunch

We’re sure you’d agree that eating ham sandwiches everyday would definitely get boring – the same goes for your little one. Variation is key to making lunch boxes they will love, so instead of just sandwiches, try pasta, couscous or pita bread.

It’s best to mix up your little one’s lunch bit by bit. Try pairing their favourite foods with something new – they might already love apple slices but try putting them into a pot with some carrots, blueberries or even cherry tomatoes.

The best healthy packed lunches come with cheeky snacks

The word ‘snack’ has got a bad reputation. But it shouldn’t, as snacks aren’t always bad for you. In fact, there are plenty of snacks you can add to your little one’s lunch box that are part of a balanced diet. Why not bake some kid-friendly granola bars or tasty dairy-free banana bread for the week ahead?

Get creative with your lunch ideas for kids

If sandwiches are on the lunchbox menu several times in a week, you could always try changing things a little – don’t worry, there’s no need to be an artist to get creative. Make them smile with a little message written on their banana, or try some sandwich art. They’ll love them!

Teach your child to clean up after having their packed lunch

If your little one is a messy eater, pack them a sheet of kitchen roll so they can wipe themselves clean after they’re finished, full and fuelled for the afternoon. The teachers will thank you for it, too

We hope these lunch ideas for kids will help you stay on top of the packed lunches and lunch ideas. Take a look at our recipes for more inspiration!