8 Ways to Pack a Surprise in the Lunchbox

This weekend many of us will be shopping for packed lunch fillers, as millions of children across the country start their new school year. Parents of packed-lunchers tend to pack the same items every day – maybe a sandwich, a packet of crisps, a cereal/chocolate bar and an apple. This is of course completely fine – and getting a packed lunch ready 5 days a week as well as all the other things that need doing is an achievement in itself – but if you are bored of the repetition and the little darlings are too, here are 8 ways to mix it up a bit.

(1) Dippy Ciabatta Slices

Instead of a sandwich, put slices of ciabatta (or baguette) in a bag along with a small box of Philadelphia cheese, hummus, egg mayonnaise or something else to dip it in.

(2) Flask of Soup

Buy a small flask with a cup on top and fill it with a hot cup-a-soup, or tinned soup, with a bread roll to dip in it at lunchtime. This is only suitable for children who are old enough to not spill it, and is good for children who tend not to drink enough liquid during the day.

(3) Cheesy Pasta

It’s easy to make and quicker than making sandwiches if you have several children to make lunches for. Boil the pasta while you’re pottering about in the kitchen. When you’ve drained it, add grated cheese (which melts) and a scoop of jarred tomato sauce or pesto. You need to let it cool in the fridge before putting it in a plastic box, so make two days worth on Sunday evening and that’s Monday and Tuesday sorted. Don’t forget the fork!

(4) Mixed Up Wraps

Wraps can be tricky as they fall apart or the contents drip out of the ends if they’re over-filled or get soggy. Try to keep the contents fairly dry, and roll the wraps super-tight with a smidge of mayonnaise along the edge to help stick them together. Good wrap fodder includes slices of cheese, chicken or ham, with shredded lettuce, red pepper and very thin carrot slices.

(5) Potato Tuna Mayonnaise

Simple – a few cold cooked new potatoes mixed with mayonnaise, tuna and some small pieces of cucumber. Don’t forget the fork!

(6) Fruit Salad

Instead of an apple, chuck some grapes with (tinned or fresh) pineapple and a few strawberries or blueberries in a plastic box. Don’t forget the spoon!

(7) Pitta Pockets

Pitta breads are great because you can fill them with all sorts of different things. For example coronation chicken, tuna mayonnaise with sweetcorn and grated carrot, or shredded chicken or turkey with yellow pepper and cucumber.

(8) Non-Edibles

Older kids will find this embarrassing, but younger kids will love to find a little surprise in their lunchbox. You could put in a few stickers, or a note saying “I love you!”