Mumbler Maria has written possibly one of the most comprehensive picnic lunch ideas list I’ve seen!* Thanks, Maria 🙂
*Whilst ever effort has been made to list as many picnic lunch foods as possible, I’m afraid no guarantees can be made as to whether your Mini Mumblers will actually eat them – Ha, sorry!! (My Teeny One won’t eat lunch…what’s that about??)
The summer holidays are here and as always I’m trying to keep my children entertained without spending a fortune (while also desperately trying to keep screens to a healthy(ish) level).
Having lived abroad, I’m aware that the UK is a fantastic place for children to grow up. There are beautiful parks, woods, nature reserves and great outdoors activities up and down the country. And the best part is, many of these attractions are completely free!
However, I have always struggled in the past to work out the best way to feed my hungry kids while we are out and about. It seems like I either spend an astronomical amount of money in cafes and restaurants – mostly on unhealthy options – or, in an attempt to eat a bit healthier and save some pennies, I spend hours preparing an overcomplicated lunch, only to find out that I forgot to pack a fork and we can’t eat our noodles (true story).
So I thought I’d put a list together with healthy packed lunch ideas, in the hope it’ll make my summer days easier. I hope you find it useful too.
Healthy contents ideas
The most obvious choice when it comes to packed lunches. The options are endless! Here are some ideas:
Tuna and sweet corn
Tuna and black olive
Salmon and salad cream
Smoked salmon and cream cheese
Hummus and grated carrot
Hummus and tomato
2-3 different types of cheese
Cheese and pickle
Mozzarella and pesto
Apple and cheese
Mashed banana and honey
Peanut butter and apple
Tahini paste and roasted veg
Coronation chicken or any curried mayo
Or combination of the above.
Types of bread:
- Pitta pockets
- Sandwich bread (brown, white, etc.)
- Flat bread
- Thins, etc.
You could also use taco shells if you fancy a change.
Other food ideas:
- Mini-quiche . You can make these in cupcake baking trays.
- Chicken bites
- Hummus and breadsticks
- Scotch eggs
- Cocktail sausages
- Boiled eggs
- Boiled eggs filled with hummus
- Boiled eggs filled with tuna mayo
- Cream cheese and cucumber sticks
- Savoury muffins, you can add any veg you have, even frozen veg
- Vegetable sticks
- Pasta with pesto
- Pasta with grated cheese. Add cooked beans for extra protein
- Couscous salad
- You can easily make your own, it works out much cheaper
- Nachos (tortilla chips topped with grated cheese)
- Rice salad
- Baked beans
- Mini burgers
- Bean salad
- Rice cakes
- Cooked prawns
- Mozzarella balls or any other type of cheese
- Chicken bites
- Any leftovers from the night before can make the perfect bite for lunch the day after. Just make sure things like rice, fish and chicken are kept cool.
- Oat bars
- Greek yoghurt topped with fruit
- Yoghurt topped with granola
- Dried fruit
- Cheese and grapes
- Cheese and crackers
Bento style boxes
I discovered these when my youngest started at her child minder and I needed to send her packed lunches. You can get them in any supermarket or order one online. It’s a great space saver because the entire lunch goes in one box and kiddies love the little compartments.
These are great for keeping leftover bits and pieces, which you can then use in your lunches. Toddlers in particular love to discover what’s in the box and are more likely to try a bit. There’s definitely a novelty element to them.
Nowadays you also find a box for every purpose. Look around your local supermarket and you’ll find boxes for dips, with a long compartment for veg or bread sticks and another one for the dip. I love the tiny tubs for salad dressing. No more soggy salad for me!
Although very trendy these days, and much more environmentally friendly, they aren’t great to carry food around, specially if you are running after little people. They work better for a packed lunch you take to work and leave in the fridge until lunchtime.
Providing you have an insulated bag and an ice pack you can carry pretty much anything. However, I wouldn’t keep things like fish or chicken for any longer than 3-4 hours.
If you are using leftover food from the night before, cool at room temperature as quickly as possible and refrigerate immediately.
Remember to pack any cutlery and napkins you think you’ll need. I tend to chop everything before packing it so I only need a fork or spoon.
Also, remember your dressing if you are having a salad. A bit of cling film before you screw the top is a good way to avoid leakages.