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Top tips to make quick, easy and healthy lunchboxes

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

With the start of spring, the end of lockdown and kids going back to school, I wanted to do a blog post all about lunchboxes. The tips below will help whether you're looking forward to picnics in the park, long country walks on the weekends or just some new ideas for your kid's school lunches.

Colourful healthy Yumbox lunchboxes with school lunches for kids and young children going back to school

I’ve been making lunchboxes for my kids for over five years (see my story below on how it all started!) and always want them to be nutritious, fun and delicious. However, with three children, my own job and a husband that works long hours, I don’t have that much time to spend on meal preparation. Therefore, I’ve worked hard to make the process as easy and quick as possible.

Below are my top tips to help you achieve lunchboxes that are colourful, tasty, healthy and practical as lockdown restrictions start to lift and we all start moving again! I've also linked to my favourite recipes for lunchbox fillers for both kids and adults.

1. Buy a few lunchbox accessories

Colourful sticks, cookie cutters of different shapes and sizes, cards with notes, little eyes or animals on sticks and silicone jelly moulds to shape food all make great additions. They ensure lunchboxes look exciting even when you’re lacking inspiration with the food!

Kitchen counter at home showing Claudine Boulstridge from Healthy Family Food Ideas making her children lunchboxes using Yumbox,  Eatsamazing and Eatwell UK products for children

2. Plan your shopping list ahead of time

Make a long list of foods to try (e.g a list of 20 different vegetables that could possibly go in a lunchbox) and then each time you go shopping buy a few new ones. My top lunchbox fillers include different coloured vegetables, fruits, seeds, cheese, olives, meat and yoghurt. You can see some of my go-to ingredients here.

Claudine Boulstridge's kitchen counter with colourful bento yumbox showing fresh healthy food cut using Lakeland cutters and biscuit cutters on a baking tray

3. Try varying the way you cut things

Cucumber can be batons, slices, crinkle-cut or be stamped into fun shapes (flowers and stars) with a cookie cutter. This gives children the impression they are eating really exciting new things, even if it’s the same ingredients that just look a little different.

4. Use a great container to easily separate food

Bento style lunchboxes are easy to wash, store and travel with, rather than lots of little separate containers, and keep foods separate and fresh. When I'm in a rush, I just open one, throw some vegetables in one compartment, fruit in another, lump of cheese in another, a handful of nuts and few slices of ham/salami… done!

Claudine Boulstridge's daughter showing her colourful and fun Yumbox Bento lunchbox with separate compartments to keep food in school lunches fresh and healthy

5. Think seasonal

This makes things both cheaper and tastier – as well as being better for the environment. Print a list of months and what’s in season so you know ahead of time what to buy that’s local. This food calendar is a great place to start.

Colourful Bento yumbox made by Claudine Boulstridge for her kid's school lunches showing a range of local and seasonal food products located using BBC food seasonal calendar

6. Buy real / unprocessed food

As well as the health benefits, such as less emulsifiers, additives and sugar, buying real food helps the environment as it means less packaging and plastic; instantly your food will be healthier, more colourful and better for the planet.

Pink Bento yumbox lunchbox made by Claudine Boulstridge showing a selection of real, healthy and unprocessed food for her children's school lunch

7. Keep things cool and warm

In summer add frozen fruit to yoghurt to keep it chilled; this is such a simple trick and works so well. In winter a good thermos flask is a great way to keep hot food, such as soups, warm and enticing.

Lunchbox with healthy homemade natural food including delicious yoghurt with frozen raspberries to keep it cool, Itsu seaweed, seed bars, cucumber and cheese

To sum up, think of a variety of food, shapes, sizes, colours and ways to present lunchboxes in an appealing and attractive way. You will find that once you start, after a bit of trial and error, the process becomes much easier very quickly.

You can also get your kids to help you to make the process feel more like quality time spent together rather than a chore at the end of the day!

Claudine Boulstridge from Healthy Family Food Ideas children showing how simple and easy it is to make lunchboxes themselves to take to school in their Bento lunchbox

Below you will find links to a selection of my recipes that are great for popping in lunchboxes:

Homemade easy-t0-make gingerbread seedballs make a great recipe for children to put inside their Bento lunchbox as a healthy, tasty and filling school lunch

You’ll also find ideas and recipes on my Instagram. Below is a small selection that are easy and quick to make. Scroll through my posts to find more.

  • No-sugar milk, coconut, herbal tea, chocolate or fruit jellies

  • Sugar-free raspberry cheesecake

  • Number shaped frittatas

  • Rainbow or healthy raspberry vanilla muffins

  • Savoury superfood strudel

  • Sugar-free chocolates

  • Avocado and chicken fritters

  • Easy left-over meat and veg samosa recipe

  • Cheese egg-pancake roll-ups

  • Low-sugar vanilla seedy flapjacks (nut free)

  • Avocado no-sugar brownies

Claudine Boulstridge shows how easy it is to make colourful no-sugar milk, coconut, herbal tea, chocolate or fruit jellies to put inside her kid's lunchboxes for school dinners or picnics

P.S Most schools insist on nut-free lunchboxes these days. There are ideas on my Instagram grid of recipes that give the same salty ‘crunch’ and similar great sources of nutrients, protein and good fats that you get from nuts.

Examples include:

  • Toasted Cinnamon Coconut flakes

  • Toasted spiced seeds

  • Biltong

  • Dried fruit with salty cheese

Take a look at my blog to read more about all my preferred 'unusual' ingredients here.

Claudine's healthy yumbox lunchbox contains natural Ember biltong, Itsu crispy seaweed and a range of seasonal, local and organic produce for her kid's healthy school lunches

I also wanted to share the story of how my lunchbox journey began…. I started my Instagram account five years ago when my daughter started school. I was disappointed by the food provided so started trying to make her varied and colourful healthy lunches to take to school instead of eating at the canteen. I discovered Bento style lunchboxes and found it the easiest way to separate all the different parts of a healthy lunch displayed freshly, neatly and in a child-friendly way, which all stayed intact for hours until she ate it.

Claudine Boulstridge from Healthy Family Food Ideas creates the filling for a Bento Yumbox lunchbox with the help of her kids. They assemble healthy, fresh and natural food in a quick and easy way

Finally, there is a great charity that I’ve raised money for (by doing a Zoom cookery class in lockdown) called Chefs In Schools that are transforming school dinners into real, good, home-cooked food. I’m passionate, like them, about children eating nutritious food and I really hope school dinners will improve! Check them out if this is a cause that interests you too.

Claudine Boulstridge shows one of her healthy lunchboxes for her kids to take to school or on a picnic. The Bento style compartment keeps her homemade food separate and fresh for hours

I hope that all the above helps with preparing healthy, quick and tasty lunchboxes for the weeks ahead; whether at school, work, weekend picnics or on the move. Good luck!

As always, if you have any questions please write to me at, DM me, drop a comment below or fill in the form on my contact page. I’d love to hear which lunchbox tips and recipes work for you!

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