Packing a nutritious lunch (that actually gets eaten) can feel like a challenge on busy mornings. Luckily, with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can whip up healthy and affordable sandwiches, wraps or rolls that are ready for the school bag in no time at all.
Read our healthy sandwich guide for some time saving tips and winning combos, and start packing lunch like a pro today!
What makes a healthy sandwich?
Start with some grainy or brown bread or a wrap, throw in some fresh salad vegies like tomato, grated carrot, lettuce or avocado and choose a lean protein such as chicken, tuna, cheese, egg or hummus. For extra flavour add a spread such as mustard, natural yoghurt or vegetable relish. Yum!
Packing all the vegies your child needs each day into dinner can be pretty tricky, which is why it’s important to get them into the lunchbox. Not only are they a fresh and tasty addition, they also provide vitamins and minerals as well as lots of good gut-loving fibre.
Lean proteins and wholegrains are also essential as they help sustain energy, improve concentration and keep kids feeling full for longer.
So where do I start?
Chop or grate salad vegies ahead of time so they’re ready to throw into sandwiches without any mess or fuss. Keep chopped or grated vegies fresh by storing them in the fridge in an airtight container that’s been lined with a wet paper towel.
Left over vegies from the night before such as roast pumpkin, chargrilled eggplant or a ready made salad also make delicious sandwich fillings. Save time by cooking extra when making dinner and start your week with plenty of yummy options to choose from.
Buy a whole roast chicken, remove the skin and shred all of the meat. Freeze in zip lock bags ready to defrost and fill your wrap in the morning before school. Alternatively you can pan-fry or gently oven bake some lightly marinated chicken breast pieces, allow to cool and then slice.
Try this winning combination: Wholegrain wrap + shredded roast chicken + natural yoghurt blended with Dijon mustard + grated carrot + finely diced celery
If you cooked roast beef over the weekend then make sure you save some slices for the sandwiches during the week. Alternatively you can freeze thinly sliced pieces in between baking paper to pull out and use at a later date.
Try this winning combination: Rye bread + roast beef + wholegrain mustard + sliced avocado + cos lettuce
Cheese is one of the easiest sandwich fillings to reach for. Along with trusty cheddar, there are lots of other great cheese varieties to fill your sandwich with such as reduced fat ricotta or cottage cheese. Serve plain or stir diced tomato, fresh basil and red onion into a tub to create your own delicious mix. To stop bread going soggy, kids can even add this to the sandwich themselves at lunchtime.
Try this winning combination: Wholegrain roll + plain cottage cheese + roasted capsicum + rocket + vegie relish
Boil eggs the night before to save time in the morning. Place cooked eggs in cold water to rest or put them in the fridge overnight. Be careful not to overcook your eggs as this makes them hard to peel. Once peeled, add some natural yoghurt, a pinch of curry powder and a squeeze of lemon and use a fork to mash together. This egg mix can last up to two days in the fridge ready to use as needed.
Try this winning combination: Wholemeal bread + curried egg mix + crunchy iceberg lettuce + fresh avocado
Tinned fish is a convenient and cheap lean protein to stock your cupboards with. Buy a large tin of tuna and drain off excess liquid then stir through natural yoghurt, a squeeze of lemon and some finely diced spring onion. This tuna mix will last in the fridge for up to two days ready to use as needed. Salmon can be used in place of tuna.
Try this winning combination: Wholegrain bagel + tuna mix + leftover coleslaw salad
Hummus is a great option for adding some vegetable based protein to school lunches. There are lots of ways to make hummus, such as adding roast pumpkin, beetroot or even fresh spinach to the mix. Hummus is a gut friendly food full of fibre, protein and healthy fats. Why not try making some yourself by jumping on our website and following the recipe.
Try this winning combination: Wholemeal bread + hummus + grated carrot + sliced tomato + baby spinach + fruit chutney
Tofu and Tempeh
Slices of tofu or tempeh make easy to grab sandwich fillings. You can find plenty of varieties in the fridge section at the supermarket and can either marinate yourself or buy them ready to use. Choose hard tofu over the soft or silken varieties as they will be higher in protein as well as calcium. Lightly pan fry tofu with cumin or slice marinated, ready to serve pieces and use as needed.
Try this winning combination: Wholemeal pita bread + pan fried cumin tofu + sliced cucumber + roast pumpkin
Should I be choosing ham?
Ham commonly appeals to kids because of its mild flavour, soft consistency and salty taste. However ham is a processed meat, along with bacon, pastrami, salami, bratwursts and frankfurts.
We recommend limiting the use of processed meats such as ham as eating them often increases the risk of bowel cancer. This is due to the specific way in which processed meats are preserved and the reaction these preservatives have in our digestive tract. Along with this, processed meats contain high levels of salt and saturated fats, which we ideally want to minimise in our diet.