17 yummy, (mostly) healthy lunchbox ideas for kids

Already racking your brains for fresh and exciting lunchbox ideas? We’ve got you covered.

1. Coconut chicken nugget sandwich

This recipe makes nine chicken nuggets. Place paper between the nuggets, wrap in foil and freeze for up to two weeks.

Serves 2
Preparation time: 15 min
Cooking time: 15 min

  • Chicken nuggets

  • 500 g chicken, minced

  • 1 egg

  • 2,5 ml (½ t) garlic powder

  • 2,5 ml (½ t) salt

  • 60 ml (¼ c) desiccated coconut

  • olive oil to drizzle

  • To assemble

  • 2 slices brown bread, toasted

  • 1 avocado, sliced

  • 1 tomato, sliced

  • 4 cucumber slices

  • lettuce leaves

  • 45 ml (3 T) mayonnaise

  • 2,5 ml (½ t) mustard powder

Preheat the oven to 200⁰C and grease a baking sheet.
1. Chicken nuggets: Mix together the chicken mince, egg, garlic powder and salt in a large bowl with wet hands. Scatter the coconut onto a separate plate.

2. Shape the mince mixture into nuggets and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Roll the nuggets in the coconut until well coated and place on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until done.

3. To assemble: Place the toasted bread on a clean cutting board and cut each slice into a triangle. Layer the two halves with a chicken nugget, avocado, tomato, cucumber and lettuce.

4. Mix together the mayonnaise and mustard, and spoon the mixture over the toppings. Close the sandwich with the remaining slices of bread.

2. Breakfast-on-the-go bars

These are also great for frantic mornings.

Preparation: 10 min
Cooking: 40 min
Makes: 16 - 20

  •  310 ml (1¼ c) flour

  • 5 ml (1 t) cinnamon

  • 5 ml (1 t) baking powder

  • 500 ml (2 c) rolled oats

  • 125 ml (½ c) mixed nuts, chopped

  • 60 ml (¼ c) desiccated coconut

  • 45 ml (3 T) pumpkin seeds

  • 180 ml (¾ c) maple syrup

  • 125 g butter

  • 2,5 ml (½ t) bicarbonate of soda


  • 60 ml (¼ c) maple syrup

  • 40 g butter

  • 1 lemon, zest and juice

  • 30 ml (2 T) flour

  • 300 g fresh strawberries, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper

1. Sift flour, cinnamon and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the oats, nuts, coconut and pumpkin seeds.

2. Melt the syrup and butter in a pot and stir in bicarbonate of soda. Pour in the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

3. With wet hands press half the oat mixture into the base of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes and set aside.

4. Filling: combine the syrup, butter, lemon and flour in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the strawberries and stir to combine.

5. Spread the filling over the cooled base to completely cover. Press down the remaining oats mixture over the top. Bake for a further 30 minutes or until golden. Cool completely and slice into bars.

3. Chicken sandwich with harissa salad

Treat the kids to a gourmet-style lunch with this quick-and-easy open chicken sandwich.

Serves: 4
Preparation: 5 min
Cooking: 20 min

  • 4 chicken breasts

  • 500 ml (2 c) chicken stock

  • zest of 2 lemons

  • handful of thyme

  • 2 handfuls mixed lettuce leaves

  • 4 slices wholewheat bread, toasted

  • handful cherry tomatoes, halved


  • harissa paste

  • handful of parsley, finely chopped

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 250 ml (1 c) plain yoghurt

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

1. Add the chicken, stock, lemon zest and thyme to a saucepan, cover with a lid and bring to the boil over medium high heat.

2. Simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, but tender and succulent. Place some lettuce on a slice of wholewheat bread.

3. Shred generous a portion of the chicken. Mix the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over liberally. Place some tomato on top and serve.

4. Microwave tartlets

These effortless tartlets use the classic combination of bacon, cheese and mushrooms. Yum!

Makes 6
Preparation: 10 min
Cooking: 4 min

  • 4 eggs

  • 60 ml (¼ c) sour cream

  • 80 ml (⅓ c) grated mozzarella

  • salt and pepper

  • 100 g mushrooms, sliced

  • 3 slices sandwich ham, chopped

  • handful of fresh chives, chopped

1       Grease 6 hollows of a silicon muffin mould.

2       Mix the eggs, sour cream and cheese in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper.

3       Mix the mushrooms, ham and chives and divide among the muffin hollows.

4       Pour the egg mixture over the mushroom mixture in the hollows.

5       Microwave on high for 4 minutes or until the mushrooms are done.

6       Serve the tartlets with a salad of your choice.

5. Big-bite fishcakes

You can never go wrong with good old fishcakes.

Makes: 15
Preparation: 10 min
Cooking: 10 min

  • 500 g white fish (hake or yellowtail)

  • 60 ml (¼ c) red curry paste

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 10 ml (2 t) brown sugar

  • pinch of salt

  • 15 ml (1 T) flour

  • 60 ml (¼ c) breadcrumbs

  • handful coriander, finely chopped

  • 100 g green beans, finely chopped

  • 4 spring onions, sliced

  • 2 red chillies, seeded and chopped

  • salt and pepper

  • oil for frying

1. Place the fish in a large mixing bowl and add the curry paste, eggs, sugar, salt and flour. Mix until all the ingredients are well combined. Add the breadcrumbs and mix through.

2. Stir in the coriander, beans, spring onions and chillies. Season, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

3. With wet hands, roll the mixture into 15 even-sized balls. Place the balls onto a floured surface and flatten.

4. Heat the oil in a frying pan until very hot and fry the fishcakes on both sides for 5 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Coconut banana bread

This bread is healthy and tasty – perfect for a lunchbox treat!

Makes: 1 medium loaf (12 slices)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 70-75 minutes

  • coconut oil

  • 250 ml (1 c) coconut flour

  • 30 ml (2 T) tapioca flour

  • 125 ml (½ c) almond flour

  • 10 ml (2 t) cinnamon powder

  • 10 ml (2 t) bicarbonate of soda

  • 1 ml (¼ t) sea salt

  • 125 ml (½ c) chopped walnuts

  • 60 ml (¼ c) raisins

  • 2 medium-ripe bananas

  • 2 very ripe bananas

  • 3 large eggs

  • 125 ml (½ c) coconut milk

  • 125 ml (½ c) unsweetened apple purée

  • 5 ml (1 t) vanilla extract

  • 2 ml (½ t) almond extract

  • desiccated coconut for sprinkling

  • butter or nut butter (see tip below) to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Line a loaf pan with baking paper or grease well with coconut oil.

2 Mix the flours, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add the nuts and raisins and stir until well coated. Set aside.

3 Combine all the wet ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth.

4 Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just well combined, do not overmix.

5 Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with desiccated coconut.

6 Bake for 70-75 minutes until the centre is done (a testing skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean).

7 Cool on a wire rack and serve with butter or nut butter.

TIP: Blitz macadamia nuts with a little canola oil in a food processor until smooth to make nut butter.

Get more delicious low-carb dishes in our Low-Carb recipes booklet here


7. Oat muffins

Save some of the leftover base to turn into a muesli.

Makes 12
Preparation: 15 min
Baking: 20 min


  • 250 ml (1 c) oats

  • 15 ml (1 T) each sesame, poppy and flax seeds

  • 5 ml (1 T) caster sugar or sweetener

  • 30 ml (2 T) mixed dried fruit, chopped

  • 5 ml (1 t) powdered milk


  • 160 ml (⅔ c) yoghurt

  • 2 eggs

  • 5 ml (1 t) vanilla essence

  • 100 g butter, softened

  • 80 ml (⅓ c) caster sugar or sweetener

  • 1 ripe banana

  • 310 (1¼ c) flour

  • 15 ml (1 tsp) baking powder

Preheat oven to 180 ⁰C and line a muffin pan with paper cases.
1. BASE Toast the oats and seeds in a dry frying pan for 2 minutes or until golden. Stir into the remaining ingredients. Measure out 125 ml (½ c) for the muffins and store the remainder in an airtight container.

2. MUFFINS Whisk the yoghurt with the eggs and vanilla essence than add the base mix. Leave to soak for a few minutes.

3. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Chop the ripe banana into small pieces and add to the butter mixture. Stir into the yoghurt mixture.

4. Sift the flour and baking powder into the butter and yoghurt mixture. Stir but not too much. Fill the muffin cases with the dough. Bake for 20 minutes.

8. Roast cauliflower and chickpea salad

A hearty vegetarian salad with a hint of chilli.

Serves 4
Preparation: 15 min
Cooking: 15 min

  • 1 cauliflower

  • 30 ml (2 T) olive oil

  • salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 5 ml (1 t) chilli flakes

  • 2 rounds feta cheese

  • 120 g lettuce leaves


  • 15 ml (1 T) olive oil

  • 15 ml (1 T) butter

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1 can (410 g) chickpeas, drained

  • 2 ml (½ t) ground cumin

  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 45 ml (3 T) chopped fresh coriander

  • 60 ml (¼ c) olive oil

  • 30 ml (2 T) lemon juice

  • 5 ml (1 t) caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 200 °C.
1 Cut the cauliflower into slices or “steaks” and arrange on a baking sheet. Brush with the olive oil and season with salt, pepper and the chilli flakes.

2 Crumble half the feta cheese on top and bake for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is slightly charred.

3 Chickpeas: Heat the oil and butter in a pan and fry the garlic until fragrant. Add the chickpeas and stir-fry for a few minutes. Season with the cumin, salt and pepper. Stir-fry until golden and set aside.

4 Lightly mix the lettuce leaves, remaining feta cheese, chickpeas and cauliflower.

5 Dressing: Whisk the ingredients together and pour over the salad. Serve immediately.

9. Sticky fruit muesli bars

Perfect for a quick bite when hunger strikes between classes.

Makes 16
Preparation time: 5 min
Cooking time: 30 min

  • 60 ml (¼ c) brown sugar

  • 125 ml (½ c) honey

  • 5 ml (1 t) vanilla essence

  • 60 g butter

  • 500 ml (2 c) muesli

  • 60 ml (¼ c) coconut

  • 200 g raisins

Preheat the oven to 180⁰C. Grease and line a 29 cm x 19 cm baking pan.

1. Heat the sugar, honey, vanilla and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir for about 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved.

2. In a bowl mix together the muesli, coconut and raisins. Pour in the honey mixture and stir until well mixed.

3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Place on a wire rack to cool before cutting into bars.

10. Bacon and spinach tartlets

The best part about these bite-sized delights? You can whip them up in less than 30 minutes.

Makes: 8
Preparation: 10 min
Cooking: 20 min

  • 400 g shortcrust pastry


  • 200 g bacon, cooked

  • 3 baby marrows, finely grated

  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped

  • 4 eggs

  • 250 ml (1 c) milk

  • 100 g spinach, finely chopped

  • 100 g Cheddar cheese

  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180 °C and lightly grease a muffin pan.

1. On a floured surface roll out the pastry and cut out circles that will fit into the holes.

2. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and season to taste.

3. Divide the filling between the pastry cases and bake them for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve hot.

11. Garden pasta salad

Make this fresh garden pasta salad with various green veggies – a perfect no-fuss lunch.

Preparation: 10 min
Cooking: 8 min
Serves 6-8

  • 250 g pasta, such as penne, fusilli or farfalle

  • 30 ml (2 T) olive oil

  • 60 ml (¼ c) plain yoghurt

  • zest of one lemon

  • 2 sprigs mint, chopped

  • 2 sprigs coriander, chopped

  • 2 sprigs parsley, chopped

  • 45 ml (3 T) fresh chives, snipped

  • salt and pepper

  • 100 g baby spinach leaves, washed

  • 50 g feta cheese, cubed

  • 100 g frozen peas, thawed

  • 150 g cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 150 g rocket

1 Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water for 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain. Lightly toss in 1 T of olive oil.

2 In a bowl combine the yoghurt, lemon zest, mint, coriander, parsley and chives. Whisk in the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside in the fridge until needed.

3 Toss the pasta with the baby spinach leaves, feta cheese, peas, tomatoes and rocket leaves.

4 Just before serving toss the salad with the yoghurt dressing.

Optional: add ham, chicken or tuna for a heartier meal.

12. Bacon roly-poly

For a faster roly-poly, use store-bought shortcrust pastry.

Makes 14
Preparation time: 20 min
Chilling time: 30 min
Baking time: 15 min


  • 375 ml (1½ c) flour

  • 10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder

  • 2, 5 ml (½ tsp) salt

  • 75 g butter, diced

  • 200 ml (¾ c) milk


  • 250 g bacon rashers

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • 125 ml (½ c) mozzarella cheese, grated

  • 125 ml (½ c) Cheddar cheese, grated

  • handful fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
1. Pastry: Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Using your fingers, crumb the butter into the bowl. Mix in the milk until just combined.

2. Place the dough on a floured surface and roll into a rectangle, trimming the edges.

3. Filling: Cover the pastry with a layer of bacon, leaving a 2 cm edge free on one of the longer sides of the dough.

4. Mix together the onion, garlic, cheeses and parsley, and spread over the bacon. Brush the gap at the edge of the dough with water then roll into a spiral, sealing the edge. Wrap the roll in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Slice the roll into slices about 1½ cm thick and place, spiral side up, on the prepared tray. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

13. Choc nut bars

Keep these in an airtight container in a cool place or the fridge and they'll last a few days – if you can stop everyone munching on them.

Makes about 20
Preparation: 20 min
Chilling: 3 hours

150 g butter, chopped
300 g dark chocolate, chopped
30 ml (2 T) golden syrup
15 ml (1 T) brandy (optional)
100 g plain digestive biscuits
180 ml (¾ c) toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
125 ml (½ c) raisins, finely chopped
125 ml (½ c) red glacé cherries, halved

1 Grease a 13x23 cm loaf tin. Line base and sides with baking paper, extending the paper 5 cm over both long sides.
2 Put the butter, chocolate, syrup and brandy (if using) in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure it doesn’t touch the water. Heat, stirring, until smooth and combined. Remove from the heat.
3 Break the biscuits into small pieces and put in a large bowl. Add the hazelnuts, raisins and cherries. Stir to combine. Stir in the chocolate mixture.
4 Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing down slightly. Cover the surface with baking paper. Cover the tin with clingfilm. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set. Leave at room temperature for 10 minutes then slice into bars.

14. Cheesy muffins

Irresistible and yet so easy to make.

Preparation time: 10 min
Baking time: 20 min
Makes: 12

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 250 ml (1 c) amasi

  • 125 ml (½ c) oil

  • 15 ml (1 T) parsley, chopped

  • 5 ml (1 t) garlic chives, chopped

  • 500 ml (2 c) flour, sifted

  • 15 ml (1 T) baking powder

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 250 ml (1 c) cheddar, grated

  • 125 ml (½ c) Camembert, cut into blocks

  • 125 ml (½ c) Parmesan, grated

Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Combine the eggs with the amasi, oil, parsley and chives.

1. Mix flour, baking powder, seasoning and cheddar in a bowl. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix lightly until just combined, being careful not to over mix.

2. Half fill greased muffin pans with the mixture. Place a cube of Camembert in the centre of each muffin. Top with the remaining muffin mixture, covering the Camembert.

3. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with Parmesan. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden.

15. Peanut butter crunchies

A deliciously nutty snack for when the munchies strike.

Preparation: 10 min
Baking: 35 min
Makes 16

  • 250 ml (1 c) flour

  • 2,5 ml (½ t) baking powder

  • 1 ml (¼ t) bicarbonate of soda

  • pinch of salt

  • 125 ml (½ c) crunchy peanut butter

  • 60 g butter

  • 200 ml (¾ c) brown sugar

  • 80 ml (⅓ c) castor sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 5 ml (1 t) vanilla essence

  • 125 ml (½ c) nuts, chopped

  • 125 ml (½ c) chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Line a square baking pan with baking paper, overlapping the sides.

1 Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl. In another big bowl beat the peanut butter and butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until well blended. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

2 Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture and add the nuts and chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into squares.

16. Rocky road bars

An effortless treat – get the kids involved in making these.

An effortless treat for lunch boxes tomorrow!

Makes: 16 - 20
Preparation: 15 min
Chilling: 3 hrs
Cooking: 8 min

  • 500 g dark chocolate, chopped

  • 15 ml (1 T) butter

  • 15 ml (1 T) golden syrup

  • 50 g mini marshmallows

  • 100 g nuts, roasted and chopped

  • 100 g glacé cherries

  • 50 g tennis biscuits, roughly chopped

Line a 20-cm x 20-cm baking pan with baking paper.

1. Melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a bowl over a pot of simmering water until smooth and glossy.

2. Remove from the heat and fold in the remaining ingredients.

3. Transfer to the prepared baking pan, allow to cool down to room temperature and place in the fridge for 3 hours or until the chocolate has set. Slice and serve.

17. Banana and cinnamon smiley muffins

The perfect cure for the back-to-school blues.

Makes 24
Preparation time: 15 min
Baking time: 20 min

  • 500 ml (2 c) flour

  • 10 ml (2 t) baking powder

  • 5 ml (1 t) bicarbonate of soda

  • 7 ml (1½ t) cinnamon

  • 125 ml (½ c) caster sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 250 ml (1 c) milk

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed


  • 230 g cream cheese

  • 60 g butter, softened

  • 60 ml (¼ c) icing sugar

  • drop of yellow food colouring

  • 2 bananas, sliced, to decorate

  • sweets to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180⁰C and grease two muffin pans.
1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir in the caster sugar.

2. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk and mashed bananas together until well blended. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and fold in. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pans and bake for 20 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing and placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.

3. Topping: Beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar while beating and stir in the food colouring. Spread the topping over the muffins using a spoon. Make a face with banana slices and sweets.