9 Best Lunchbox Ideas for Children

Preparing lunchboxes may seem like a herculean task every morning. Try the innovative and healthy recipes shared in this article to make lunch time fun for your child

By Team ParentCircle

9 Best Lunchbox Ideas for Children

It is 4 pm and Ajay’s mother, Priti is excited at the thought of going to the gate to pick up her son who will be back from school. However, she is also worried because he has not been eating his lunch for over a month now. She picks up his bag and realises from the weight that the lunchbox is still full. "Oh no, not again!," she reacts instantly.

Thankfully, Priti is not the only mother who faces this problem. A Leeds University study has found that only 17 per cent of children ate their lunch at school when it had vegetables in it. So, what's the solution? There are several ways to get your child to eat. But, getting him to eat healthy food out of a lunchbox is easier said than done. 

While experts feel that "hungry children will eat whatever is offered to them," parents also have to contend with the opposite: "In general my children refuse to eat anything that hasn't danced in television." –says the American humourist, Erma Bombeck.

Are you one of those mothers who wonders what to pack for lunch every single day that's both tasty and healthy? This article explains how you can make vegetables and other healthy foods more interesting for your child.

Here are some enticing recipes your child will love to take to school:

1. Sprouts chapathi rolls

Ingredients:

  • Wheat flour to make 3 chapathis
  • ½ carrot, chopped fine
  • 3 beans, chopped fine
  • A handful of sprouts (green gram)
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp oil

How to make:

  • Knead wheat flour with water and a pinch of salt to make dough. Keep it aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan. Add onion and fry for a couple of minutes.
  • Add carrots, beans and sprouts, all the spices and salt.
  • Saute for a couple of minutes.
  • Sprinkle some water and cook covered for 5 minutes.
  • Pinch some of the dough and roll it out into a chapathi.
  • Cook the chapathi on a tawa.
  • When both sides are done, place it on a plate.
  • Place a spoonful of the sprouts mixture on the chapathi and roll it in from all sides to make a neat roll.
  • Wrap in aluminium foil or butter paper so it keeps soft until noon.

Packing suggestion:

  • Serve this roll with some homemade tomato ketchup.
  • Throw in 5 tsp of pomegranate seeds with a couple of chopped almonds and a spoonful of chocolate chips to make a healthy dessert.

2. Baked potato rolls

  • 1 large potato, boiled
  • 4 bread slices
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 1 slab butter
  • 2 tsp oil
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds

How to make potato mixture:

  • Mash the boiled potato well. 
  • Heat 1 tsp oil and add the cumin seeds. 
  • When it turns a little brown, add the onions and fry till translucent. 
  • Add turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt. 
  • Saute for 2 minutes. 
  • Add the mashed potato and stir till all the ingredients blend well. 
  • Add coriander leaves and mix well.

How to make rolls:

  • Remove the edges of the bread slices. Roll it flat with a rolling pin.
  • Place a spoonful of the potato mix on the bread slice.
  • Moisten the edges of the bread slice with some water and fold over.
  • Seal it carefully to resemble a roll.
  • Repeat with the remaining bread slices.
  • Using a brush, spread some melted butter on the roll.
  • Preheat an oven at 200 degrees C for 5 minutes.
  • Place the rolls on a greased tray and bake at 200 degrees C for 10 minutes till it is golden.
  • Remove the rolls from the oven.

Packing suggestion:

  • Allow to cool before packing to prevent them from turning soggy. Your 6-year-old can eat all 4 rolls with a little ketchup on the side. 
  • Pack half an apple in a separate box to go with rolls to make a complete the meal of carbohydrates, fats and vitamins.

3. Carrot rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 carrot, grated
  • ½ green chilli
  • ½ onion, chopped fine
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 75-100 ml rice, cooked
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 raisins

How to make:

  • Heat ghee and add the cumin seeds. When they turn brown, add the raisins and stir a little. Add the onion and green chilli and fry well.
  • Add the spices and salt and fry some more.
  • Add the carrot, sprinkle some water and stir for 5 minutes till the carrot is crunchy but cooked.
  • Add the rice and mix well.

Packing suggestion:

  • Allow it to cool before packing.
  • Make yummy raita: Mix 4 tsp of grated cucumber with 5 tbsp of curd. Add a pinch of salt. Add a dash of chaat masala powder, if your child likes it. Pack this in a leak-proof container to go with the carrot rice.

4. Sweet dosa

Ingredients:

  • Dosa batter to make 3 dosas
  • 2 tbsp jaggery, powdered
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • Oil for shallow frying

How to make:

  • Dissolve powdered jaggery in some water and strain to remove the dirt.
  • Add the jaggery to the dosa batter and stir well.
  • Pour out a ladle of the batter on a hot tawa.
  • Add a few drops of oil along the edges of the dosa.
  • When you see it turning brown, flip over and allow the other side to cook as well.
  • Remove and pack in food grade parchment or butter paper so it remains soft until lunch time.

Packing suggestion: Chop a quarter of an apple into bite-size pieces. Chop some almonds and walnuts, and add it to the diced apple. Add half a teaspoon of honey. Pack this salad in a leak-proof container. This will serve as a perfect, juicy dessert after the dosa lunch.

5. Mint roti

Ingredients:

  • A bunch of mint leaves, cleaned and chopped fine
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • Wheat flour to make 3 rotis
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee for making the rotis

How to make:

  • Knead the wheat flour, chopped mint, salt and chilli powder together with a little water to make a pliable dough.
  • Pinch off enough dough required to make a roti and roll it out.
  • Place the roti on a heated tawa.
  • Drizzle a little oil on the edges.
  • Flip it over in 2 minutes.
  • Allow the other side to cook as well and your mint roti is ready.

Packing suggestion:
Mix grated carrot with curd and a little salt to make raita. This serves as an interesting accompaniment to the roti. You could also give your child the tastier boondi raita occasionally to go with the roti.

6. Corn, carrot, capsicum rice

Ingredients:

  • 75-100 ml rice, cooked
  • 4 tsp corn kernels
  • ¼ capsicum, diced
  • ¼ carrot, diced
  • ½ onion, chopped fine
  • 1 green chilli, chopped fine
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds

How to make:

  • Heat ghee in a pan. Add the cumin seeds. When they turn brown, add the onion and green chilli, and fry well.
  • Add the chopped carrot and capsicum, and toss for a while.
  • Add the corn kernels and salt. Stir well, sprinkle a few drops of water.
  • Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the rice and mix well.

Packing suggestion:
Pack some of your child’s favourite chips to go with this rice. Baked potato fingers also make a good accompaniment. It is the best bet if you’ve got the time to prepare it as it is homemade and healthier than store-bought chips.

7. Oats carrot idli

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • ½ cup semolina (rawa)
  • ½ cup curd
  • 3 tsp carrot, grated
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tsp fruit salt
  • 1 green chilli
  • ½ tsp lemon juice

To temper:

  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp Black gram dal
  • ½ tsp curry leaves, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp oil

How to make:

  • Roast the oats in a pan without any oil.
  • Powder coarsely and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and allow them to splutter.
  • Add the dal and curry leaves.
  • Stir till the dal is golden.
  • Add the rawa and fry well.
  • Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Add the oats, salt. grated carrot, chilli, curd, lemon juice, fruit salt and water.
  • Mix well to get a frothy batter.
  • Pour into greased idli plates and steam for 15 minutes.

Packing suggestions: Allow the idlis to cool down before packing them. Coconut chutney or split gram chutney is a good accompaniment to these idlis. You can pack a fruit to go with the lunch. Give your child the option of choosing the fruit and he will start loving the idea.

8. Paneer toast

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of bread
  • 50 g paneer
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp butter

How to make:

  • Heat oil and add the cumin seeds.
  • When the cumin turns brown, add the onion, salt and spices.
  • Saute for a couple of minutes. Then add crumbled paneer and mix well.
  • Allow it to cool.
  • Spread some of the paneer mixture on a slice of bread.
  • Cover with another slice.
  • Roast the sandwich on a tawa with a little butter.

Packing suggestion:

  • Allow the sandwiches to cool before packing.
  • Here’s a simple fruit snack you can try for dessert: Wash a handful of grapes. Plug in a couple of chocolate chips into each grape to make a cute doll.

9. Sabudana kichdi:

Ingredients:

  • 100 g sago
  • ½ or 1 green chilli, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp peanuts, coarsely powdered
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tsp oil
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chopped coriander leaves

How to make:

  • Clean the sago and soak it in water for 30 minutes.
  • Heat oil and add the cumin seeds. When it browns a little, add the green chillies and fry.
  • Drain the sago and add it to the frying pan.
  • Add powdered peanuts and salt and stir till the peanuts coat the sago well.
  • Add coriander leaves and mix well.
Packing suggestion:
  • Allow the khichdi to cool before you pack it. 
  • Cut half a carrot and half a cucumber into thin, long strips and pack them up to provide the daily quota of vitamins.

Note: These recipes can make a meal for one child.

By the time your child is between 6 and 9 years of age, you could teach her to pack her own lunch and snack boxes. The idea is very simple. Place the things that you would want her to eat on a table or on the kitchen counter. Allow her to choose what she would like to eat. This exercise will help your child be more responsible and she can also be held accountable for the food in case she does not eat it.