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School Lunchboxes

Pack it with food and find it mouldy and half eaten a week later. If it comes home at all

school lunchbox

It’s 8.05am and you are hustling kids into the car to get them to school. But uh-oh! No lunchboxes, no cash for the canteen, better phone the school office and see if I can get an ‘IOU’ so the kids can get something to eat.

Yep, one of the many daily routines that stress out the single dad. But at least in this scenario your child will probably get something to eat. A number of kids show up to school each day with no lunch (and possibly haven’t even had breakfast). Maybe it was an oversight, running late, forgot to pack it and left it on the bench or worse, financial burden or parental neglect. Sometimes kids don’t even tell the teacher and go hungry. Not the best conditions for learning I’m sure you agree.

So, kids need lunchboxes, if not for daily school because they have canteen, then there’ll be other times like an excursion, camping trip or road trip you might need to pack one. Let's look at how to make this a little less stressful.

healthy lunch box


Lunchboxes can be straightforward for most dads. They know what to pack to give kids a balanced healthy lunch, they have time to put one together, and don’t stress. Others have panic attacks worrying what to put in it so there kids will eat it, not waste hard earned cash on food thrown away or worried schools and other kids will judge the food your child takes in their lunchbox.

Are you a dad who believes there should be fresh, healthy fruit, snacks, carbs, protein and some kind of treat? Or are you a dad who hasn't got the time or inclination to do anything other than just dumping a bunch of processed and salty junk that comes in multipacks. The so called ‘brown’ lunchbox.

junk food

Will They Eat it?

First things first. Chat to your kids about what they want in their lunchboxes. Make sure they want it and will eat it. Over the years, the hundreds of dollars or wasted food that comes home is astounding. Or even worse your kids have just chucked it in the bin at school because they didn’t want to eat it.

As a teacher I caught many kids doing this over the years. They had never even told their parents they didn’t like it, so they just kept throwing it away. Imagine the money wasted! Chat with your kids, make sure they will eat what you put in.

bucket of food scraps

What to Chuck In

Now what can you put in kid’s lunchbox that is reasonably healthy, enjoyable and won’t break the bank? Well that’s going to depend entirely on what your kids like to eat, what’s quick and easy to put together and what’s affordable.

I tend to go for the basics. A sandwich, wrap or quesadilla (my kids have taken to eating toasted sandwiches and quesadillas cold in their lunchboxes), a carrot, an apple, some kind of crackers and a muesli bar or cake bar etc. But take your own kids to the shops, browse the specials, try a few new things to see what they like.

My own tips on managing lunch boxes are short and simple: Making them the night before and putting in the fridge if you’re time poor in the morning and getting the kids involved as much as possible. Another good one is using frozen bread slices to make sandwiches. By lunchtime they’ve defrosted enough but the filling will still be cool (if you don’t like warm sweaty cheese sandwiches that is).

children at a school canteen

Train and Educate

Just like everything else with kids, start young, guide, encourage and steer them towards your ultimate goal of them becoming young independent, healthy humans. Teaching them to make sensible food choices. Knowing which foods are ‘sometimes’ foods and how to form a healthy balanced lunchbox is a key skill for them to learn.

Taking them shopping to choose fruit and veg, snacks and treats that are both cost effective and things they like is the road to success here.

Whilst looking for inspiration online for lunchbox ideas I found there's an overwhelming amount of advice, but there are some amazing tips for you to delve into. However, you’re also going to find ideas that are simply not practical or sustainable for the long term and will probably fill you with the guilt of not being able to provide those ‘over the top’ creations yourself. Especially when time, budget and fussy kids are at hand.

You got this written in chalk on the ground

Inspiration is Around

I suggest that if your are looking for great inspiration on lunchboxes then checkout the ‘The School Lunchbox Dad’ George Georgeski. This guy does some amazing stuff so definitely worth googling him and checking it out.

Of course none of this covers the fact that any lunchbox you buy or containers you use will disappear into the ether along with socks, drink bottles, school hats and jumpers. But happy lunch boxing anyway.

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As with any of my articles and posts, feel free to contact me with feedback or other ideas about things you'd like to see on my site.

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