Even with the summer holidays ahead, most parents won't be able to escape making packed lunches over the next few weeks. Holiday camps, picnics and family vacations all need meals on the go!
But after making them day in, day out for months, it can sometimes be a struggle to come up with new ideas for packed lunches that are both healthy and appealing. If you're running on empty, here are a few of Raring2go!'s favourite suggestions, all tried and tested by our gang of kids aged four to 16!
Jazz up your usual sandwiches with coloured mayo or cut them into fun shapes with play-dough cutters.
At the weekend, let your children help you cook things to add to their lunches: cakes, scones, biscuits and savouries are all good places to start. Letting them cook with you is fun and allows them to be creative; it also teaches them a valuable lesson about where food comes from. Eating something they've made themselves can build their self-esteem, too.
Encourage your children to help you pack their lunches the night before. Not having a morning panic and making the kids part of the process makes things better for everyone!
Presenting food nicely encourages children to try it. Put food in separate Tupperware containers or bags sealed with stickers of their favourite characters.
Small portions of a variety of food seem to make meal times more enjoyable for children; Try to include carbohydrates, protein, dairy, vegetables and fruit in your children's lunches every day.
Use leftovers for filling sandwiches, pasties, wraps, bagels or pitas. Left-over chicken and stuffing from your Sunday dinner, as well as sausages, make great fillings.
Remember that variety is the spice of life, so offer the kids something new every now and then. Choose from:
Homemade fruit jelly made with real pieces of fruit
Plain/Greek yoghurt, rice pudding or custard with fruit or fruit puree
Rice cakes and home-popped popcorn
Savoury options like hardboiled eggs, mini sausages, scotch eggs, sausage rolls, falafel, savoury flapjacks and slices of Spanish omelette
Mini fruit salads
Salad bites, breadsticks and dips such as humus and tzatziki
Small portions of rice, couscous or pasta dishes leftover from last night's dinner