Following on from my recent Lunch Box Ideas series, I thought it would be a good idea to bring all the information together in one blog post to create a useful mix-and-match lunch box food ideas resource. As you may remember, I covered the five main food groups; starchy foods, vegetables, non-dairy proteins, fruit and dairy. I shared twelve food ideas for each food group, making a total of sixty different child friendly lunch box foods.
If you pack one food from every food group in each lunch box that you make, and vary one item each time, there’s (according to my mathematician brother) a total of 248,832 possible food combinations! I think that’s enough to keep anyone going for a school year or two!
You can use the lists below to help you create a healthy, balanced lunch box, by choosing one food from each of the five food groups to be included in each lunch that you make. You can of course include more than one food from any category (I usually try to include at least two vegetables for example). I created this method for myself based on the UK’s Eatwell Plate recommendations, and I find it helps me enormously when deciding what foods to buy and what foods to pack on any one day.
Having a list of different food ideas also helps me pack a great variety of foods so that I never get stuck in a rut, packing the same things over and over again. We have our favourites of course, that we pack very regularly (carrots and cucumber feature a lot, and ham!), but when we fancy a change we always have plenty of ideas for substitutions. Just changing one of the foods that you pack can make all the difference.
Here are the complete lists of lunch box food ideas by food group. If you click on each picture you’ll be taken to the original blog post for that food group, where you’ll find lots of ideas and suggestions for how to use each individual food in a packed lunch box.
Sugar Snap Peas
Dried Apple Rings
Red Leicester Cheese
So to pack a balanced lunch box you simply choose one item from each of the food groups above (for example crackers, cheddar cheese, rolled ham slices, cucumber and grapes), pop it into a lunch box or bento box and voilà – a yummy, healthy, balanced lunch!
If you’d like even more lunch box food ideas, have a look at my printable list of lunch box food ideas – there’s a free sheet to download and stick on your fridge to keep you inspired!
I hope this resource proves to be useful for new and experienced lunch packers alike. What combinations would you use from the lists above?