Lunchbox and back to school tips

‘Back to school’ lunchbox tips from Lisa, teacher in Kids Cook Cooking Club

Leading up to ‘back to school’ dates can be a stressful time for many reasons…. with added challenges this year after the chaos of covid. 

Will they be safe?

Will our kids settle back ok?

Will they make friends? 

Will they be able to do the homework?

Will the hole that is burning in my wallet stop growing!!

It’s so easy to get caught by the stress and we are bombarded with ‘back to school’ messages (as this is!) 

My aim is to stop that hamster wheel and take perspective.

Do my kids need brand new everything? Nope. 

They have a lot of school equipment/uniforms and stationery that was hardly used and they can use that for the new term. 

Am I glad I don’t stress out about their lunchboxes anymore? YES!!

After many years of packing lunch boxes, chatting to kids about what they like and are allowed in school, hosting a sellout lunchbox workshop every year, I can conclude that, I THINK, there is too much emphasis put on the lunchbox and every parent does not need the stress!

There are many restrictions in relation to school lunchboxes that are out of your control, like…

  1. Schools have different policies that may limit what you can give to your child. They may be reasonable but it is still limiting. 

Some examples: No nuts, no kiwis, no yoghurts, no popcorn, no full fruit, no sweets, no crisps, no hot items, no chocolate, no biscuits. No sweet things unless they are home-baked but they can’t have chocolate! We have heard some good ones! 

It depends on each school policy. 

I understand these policies make sense to each school, just realise that it can make things difficult for you so let go of the guilt!

   2.    You have to pack food that will stay fresh/not go off over the course of a few hours.

   3.    You have to then find food your child likes with the options that are acceptable.

   4.    Your child has to be able to manage the lunch

Can they open the lunchbox easily? Can they peel a mandarin? Can they open a carton/packet without difficulty? Can they peel a banana?

    5.    There is usually a small window of time for schoolchildren to eat their lunch. 

They might have to  eat at their desk if the weather doesn’t permit them to go outside.

What are we constantly being told as adults? not to eat lunch at our desks and take a break, go outside, relax and eat your lunch outside or somewhere relaxing. 

It’s unfortunate that kids don’t have this choice sometimes. 

   6.     If it is a day to go outside, kids often eat their lunch super-fast or leave most of it in the box to get outside and play.

          Who can blame them? It’s fun!

We have enough to be worrying about as parents, let this be ticked off your list. 

Full disclosure: I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, food expert, lunchbox guru…..

I am a mum of two children with very different eating habits. I have learned from many children in the cookery school and used this knowledge along with my own personal experience. 

These are my thoughts. They might not be for everybody but that’s ok. 

My lunchbox tips:

  1. Make sure your child likes their lunchbox, even let them pick it… 

         Let them decorate it, personalise it, whatever works! Find one with mini compartments in it to keep food separate if that       helps.

   2.  I usually do a bit of a brainstorm with my kids and make a list for the fridge of things they will take.

        I have often been surprised and it stops me just sticking to the same things. A list on the fridge is a good prompt.

   3.  If you feel your child is old enough, let them help.

        If they feel responsible for part of it, they are more likely to be interested in opening it in school.  This is 100% the case from our experience in the cooking club! If they are old enough, let them take responsibility for it completely. 

   4.    Ignore the Tiktok reels of people making nice shapes out of cucumber, packing avocado and sushi in a cute lunchbox. 

          Making shapes is a waste of food. There is nothing wrong with a chuck of cucumber, at least they can pick it up and eat it in          one go! Avocado goes black if not eaten quick enough, not realistic! 

   5.      There is nothing wrong with giving them the same thing a lot of the time. It might be the only way to make sure       your children don’t get hungry throughout the school day.

You have complete control over three very important things:

BREAKFAST – Get a great breakfast into your children and you have set them up really well for the school day. 

AFTERSCHOOL SNACK- It might be the case that you have this in the car when you collect them or ready when you get home. Whatever you feel they need, make that your afterschool snack.

DINNER- If they eat a good dinner, that is a winner! (I know, I couldn’t help it) 


Look at what they eat overall throughout the whole day and be happy with that. Don’t just focus on the lunchbox as an individual meal, take control where you can and then you might be less stressed about the box.

If you would like some inspiration for that list on the fridge, we are bringing our lunchbox workshop online this month. Your child attends and can bake along with me. Lots of ideas are given and a complimentary e-book of lunchbox recipes and ideas to all who attend.

For more details and to buy a ticket to our workshop, click here

If you want more support we are here for you to make cooking fun, click here to check out our Kids Cooking Club

Lisa x

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