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Simple healthy lunch ideas for busy mums

simple healthy lunch ideas feature image

This article ‘Simple healthy lunch ideas for busy mums’  is a collaboration between Baby Bento and Little Peeps Eats.

I can’t believe how long I’d been neglecting my own health and nutrition.  Especially when I place so much importance on ensuring my kids eat a healthy, balanced diet.  Particularly at lunchtime!  Why is it that I will stand there for 10 minutes to prepare a variety of healthy lunch foods for my kids, and then make a quick piece of toast for myself?  It makes no sense.  It’s almost embarrassing, but I’m all about being honest and I figure if I do this, chances are there are some other mummas that are in some bad habits also.

This year I’ve focussed a lot on self care, making sure that I’m not just looking after everyone else in the family – but myself as well.  Starting with lunches!

I work part time – so you’ll see some of the simple healthy lunch ideas below are suited to mums at home, and others suited to working mums also.

Simple healthy lunch ideas for busy mums

Tip 1.  Eat what your kid eats!

simple healthy lunch ideas kids

It sounds so obvious right?  But this isn’t something that I was previously in the habit of doing.  If you are preparing a healthy, nutritious lunch for your kids – chop some of those veggie sticks up for yourself also!

My kids enjoy lots of little bits and pieces to pick at from their plates.  Their lunches will often include some chopped veggie sticks, a boiled egg, a sandwich or crackers and perhaps some fruit.

I will often turn these items into a lunch for myself and adapt it to my own tastes.  I might put the fresh veggies sticks and boiled into a salad with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  If I’ve got some leftover meat from dinner – even better!

Tip 2.  Dinner leftovers make an awesome lunch

simple healthy lunch ideas leftovers

I generally always have leftover dinner. I think its because recipes that typically serve four people, I add a stack of extra veggies to which makes it stretch even further.

Dinner leftovers are generally a whole lot more nutritious than something I would make myself.  This makes it a great simple healthy lunch idea, that may only require a quick reheat!

Some of my favourite meals to enjoy leftovers for my lunch the past few months include Super Power Spaghetti Bolognaise, Roasted Pumpkin, Cauliflower & Carrot Soup, Slow Cooker Lentil Bolognese and Quinoa Con Carne.

simple healthy lunch ideas oasis food jar

If you need to keep your leftovers warm, check out the Oasis Insulated Food Flask.  It keeps the contents hot for up to 7 hours!  For only $20 it’s fabulous option for keep your hot food hot, or cold food cold!  It holds up to 450ml which is a great size for lunch.

Tip 3. Pack yourself a lunchbox for work (or day out with the kids!)

simple lunch ideas - stainless steel lunchbox

Lunchboxes aren’t just great for kids – they are great for us mummas too!

I pack my son’s lunchbox the night before school.  Whilst I’m at it, I like to pack one for myself for work the next day.  I fill it with most of the same things that are in my son’s lunchbox – some chopped veggies and fruit,  cheese, and either some dinner leftovers or a sandwich/wrap.  It’s almost always healthier than what I’d buy for myself as a work lunch… and a whole lot cheaper too!

I like stainless steel lunchboxes, they are BPA free and don’t contain nasty chemicals often found in plastic.  These stainless steel rectangle lunchboxes are bento style and I just love being able to put things in the different sections, eg some salad in one side and cheese and crackers in the other.  They are also leak free which is important for me.  At $24 I think they are excellent value.

Some of my favourite things to pack in my work lunchbox are:

Tip these are all things that I pack into my sons lunchbox also!

Tip 4. A freezer stash of ready made sandwiches/wraps are a mum’s best friend

simple healthy lunch ideas sandwiches

When it come to simple healthy lunch ideas, you can’t beat a good old sandwich!

There is nothing more convenient than having a freezer stash of ready made sandwiches that you can grab when there is nothing else planned, or you are strapped for time.  Every few weeks, on a Sunday afternoon I like to make up a variety of wholemeal sandwiches and wraps, and put them into the deep freeze.

My favourite fillings that freeze well include:

  • Ham, cheese & dijonaise
  • BBQ chicken, cheese and mayonnaise
  • Roast pork & apple sauce
  • Sliced meatballs, salsa & cheese
  • Tuna with mayonnaise & sweetcorn

Tips

  • Grated cheese tends to freeze better than sliced.
  • Things that don’t freeze well like lettuce or tomato can always be added after removing from the freezer.

simple healthy lunch ideas beezwax wraps

I like to wrap my sandwiches and wraps in beeswax cotton food wraps. I’ve been really trying to reduce waste in my house, and found these a great way to start doing so.  They are not only are they great for wrapping sandwiches. You’ll also find them useful to wrap around half of a tomato left in your fridge, put over a bowl of leftover food, etc.    They will cost you $15 for a twin pack.  This may feel like an investment but you will find so many great uses for them, and mother nature will thank you!

Tip 5. Get your smoothie on!

Ok confession time.  Some days that my son is at school and I am at home, it gets to pick up time and I realise that I’ve been so busy doing house work and other chores, that I’ve forgotten to have my lunch.  Not a good habit at all I know.

Whilst I certainly don’t condone skipping meals, what has been a lifesaver for me on days like this is whipping up a quick smoothie to drink in the car on my way to pick him up.

I can pack a smoothie with a whole lot of nutrition!

You do need a good quality wide mouth drink bottle to drink a thick smoothie on the run.  I’m currently in love with the Montii range,  They are insulated with double walled stainless steel – which keeps your drinks cold for a long time!  The colour range is pretty awesome too 😍.  They are $30 which is excellent value for a drink bottle of this quality.

I hope these simple healthy lunch ideas inspire you and help you focus on your own nutrition, not just the kids!

All of the products featured in this ‘Simple healthy lunch ideas for busy mums’ article can be purchased from Baby Bento.  
Use code littlepeeps to access 10% off!

Some of my favourite smoothie recipes are here.Rachel Cassidy - Owner - Little Peeps Eats

Rachel Cassidy is the author of this article and the founder of Little Peeps Eats.  She is a passionate food blogger and brand ambassador, but her most important job is being a mum!  Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.

 

Simple Oatmeal Cookies – perfect for lunchboxes and dipping into a cuppa!

Making your own lunchbox snacks needn’t be fancy or time consuming.  A quick batch of simple oatmeal cookies will really only set you back 5 minutes of hands on time and often no more than 10-15 minutes in the oven.

I love this recipe as it is ridiculously versatile and can use up random bits and bobs leftover in the pantry such as seeds, dates, tanies (sultanas) or some exotic berry you tried for a dessert that no one ate. It also has the added bonus of a substantial amount of rolled oats which are a good source of fibre.  

There are a variety of benefits to sending homemade cookies in your kids lunchbox rather than store bought:

  • You know what ingredients are in it.
  • You are providing a healthier option, with less sugar than most store bought varieties.
  • No pre-packaging – mother nature will thank you!

Did I mention these simple oatmeal cookies are a fabulous option for the mammas also?  They go down an absolute treat with a cup of tea or coffee.  My only issue is that it is hard to stop at one!

This recipe makes approximately 16 bickies.

Simple Oatmeal Cookies – perfect for lunchboxes and dipping into a cuppa!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup of flour (any type, I have used spelt/wholemeal/plain white)
  • 1/2 tsp of bi-carb
  • 1/4 cup of sugar/honey or the like
  • 125g of butter or oil
  • 1/4 cup of nuts/seeds/sultanas/random ingredient

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  3. Melt the butter (and honey if using honey) and mix it into the dry ingredients.
  4. With the add ins like nuts, sprinkle them over the mixture and bring it together with your hands.
  5. Make little golf sized balls and flatten them on the tray.
  6. Pop the tray into the oven and reduce the temperature to 160 degrees Celsius. Bake for 10 minutes or until the tops start to golden.
  7. Remove the tray and let it rest until cool and the bickies firm up.
  8. You can also freeze the dough to cook another day too. Just add a little more time to your cook.

Looking for some more lunchbox inspiration?  Take a look at our ideas to bring your healthy lunchbox to the next level!

Mandy - Little People NutritionMandy is the Founder of Little People Nutrition as well as being a mum to 3 little peeps of her own.  As a university qualified nutritionist and food scientist she is passionate about children developing a positive relationship with food. Mandy has written a book called ‘At My Family Table‘ to start a conversation between parents/carers and children about food, family and the world. She believes that a great way to build a positive relationship with food is to share a meal together.  Food is nutrition and health, but so much more!

Ultimate list of super easy toddler snack ideas

ezpz happy mat blue toddler snack ideas

It can be easy to draw a blank when it comes to toddler snack ideas.  Sometimes I look at fancy creations online and wonder how some of these amazing mammas have the time or energy to create such fun masterpieces!  Hats of to those that do – but in my house… it’s got to be simple.

Two kids down now and I have compiled both of my boys favourite snacks that are simple to make, and have some nutritional value.

But before we get to my list of toddler snack ideas – let’s talk about food presentation.

How to serve toddler snacks

You see – it’s all well and good to plonk foods onto a plate – but keep in mind that like us, toddlers eat with their eyes. If you don’t have the time or energy to create an Instagram worthy food art sensation – you can simply purchase a fun plate to serve them up on.

We particularly love the ezpz range of Happy Mats!

EZPZ Banner Image

Here’s what we love about them:

  • They have three different compartments – great for picky eaters who don’t like foods to touch
  • The smiley face design helps to put kids in the right mood for a positive mealtime experience
  • You can load them with food and stack 3-4 mats at the time and carry them to the table
  • It suctions to the table (or highchair!) so no more tipped plates on the floor
  • Made from high quality silicone that is BPA, PVC and phthalate free
  • You can throw it in the dishwasher #winning!
  • Alternatively its super easy to clean arm soapy water (silicone doesn’t support the growth of fungus, mould or bacteria)
  • Microwave AND oven safe
  • Built to last (silicone doesn’t fade, corrode or deteriorate)
  • They look awesomely fun!

And the best bit is they are currently on sale!  10% off when you spend $50 and over, 15% off when you spend $100 and over, and 20% off when you spend $150 and over.  Winning!!!

HAPPY MAT CARE BEARS PURPLE TODDLER SNACK IDEAS

I’m totally crushing on the Care Bears range they’ve got also! 😍  Where was this when I was a toddler?!

But what about all that mess?

I remember some days changing my toddlers clothes three times per day due to all the mess on his clothes.  I don’t mind if there are vegemite smears or crumbs to shake off – but when we are talking things like squished scrambled eggs, porridge or banana, usually a full outfit changes will be required!

There are ton of long sleeve bibs on the market but to be honest I found most of them to be too short and my sons pants would end up a complete mess.

Silly Billyz Messy Eater Bib in Red and blue

Thankfully the Silly Billyz Messy Eater Bib for toddlers has an extra-long and wide front. The super long durable bib will cover your little peep’s front as well as the knees while they’re seated to eat.

They also have these cool little side press studs which clip together to create a food catching pocket so less mess at mealtimes! Perfect for painting and gooey games too!

Now we’ve got the basics covered…. let’s get onto the list of toddler snack ideas!

Ultimate list of simple toddler snack ideas

For ease of scrolling… I’ve grouped these into categories for you.  If you’ve got a fabulous snack idea that you think I should add – please let me know!

Fruit & Vegetables

Chopped carrot and cucumber vegetable sicks on a plate

Fruit and vegetables can be served with any meal of the day.  Many parents stress about their children not eating vegetables at dinner time – if you introduce them at snack time also, you’ll be a step ahead in them getting their daily dose!

Younger toddlers may find it easiest eating certain fruits with their peel still on.  For example given avocado is quite slippery, it will be easiest to serve a wedge with the skin in tact for them to eat the flesh from.

  • Apples, thinly sliced if needed
  • Avocado (either served in wedges or on toast / sandwich / crackers)
  • Bananas
  • Berries (blueberries are packed full of antioxidants!)
  • Edamame – toddlers love to learn how to pop out the centres!
  • Dried cranberries
  • Carrot sticks (lightly steamed for younger toddlers)
  • Capsicum strips
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Mandarins or oranges, cut if needed
  • Grapes, sliced in half vertically
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Mango
  • Pears
  • Peas – my boys loved eating them frozen, great for fine motor skills!
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Sultanas
  • Tomato wedges
  • Watermelon

Protein rich snacks

Egg Molds are fun food ideas for kids lunchboxes

It’s important to ensure that your kids eat protein rich foods every day.  The reason for this is that builds and repairs all the tissues in the human body, including muscles and organs. So super important for growing bodies!

  • Boiled eggs
  • Chia pudding
  • Nut butter – served on toast, sandwich, or even in a celery stick with some sultanas on top!
  • Green eggs and ham
  • French toast – simply whilst an egg, dip in your bread, and pan fry in a little butter
  • Hummus makes a great veggie dipper
  • Kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • Cheese  – I find the supermarket cheese sticks to be easy to hold and a nice soft consistency
  • Tuna on crackers
  • Roasted chickpeas – 3/4 cup chickpeas roasted for 20 to 30 minutes with 1 tablespoon each olive oil, and a tiny sprinkle of salt
  • Toddler Trail mix – sultanas, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Meatballs

Baked Items

Cheesy vegetable muffins

We just love baking at home!  The boys love it too.  I get them in the kitchen, they grab their kids knives and they get involved in the process from the start…. right up until it’s time to lick the spoon!

Muffins are a favourite in our house when it comes to baked items!  We generally always make them as mini muffins which are great for little hands as well as portion control.

Dairy

Girl eating yoghurt - kids toddler snack ideas

  • Cheese sticks  – I find the supermarket cheese sticks to be easy to hold and a nice soft consistency
  • Cottage cheese or cream cheese – spread on toast or on a sandwich
  • Healthy Milkshake
  • Smoothies – add a dollop of yoghurt for extra creaminess
  • Yoghurt – opt for Greek for more protein.  Some of our favourite flavours to add:
    • Banana and strawberry
    • Apple & Cinnamon (stew your apple first or buy some pureed)
    • Honey & Vanilla extract
    • Mango

Looking for a toddler approved dinner idea that is jam packed full of goodness?  Check out our Super Power Spaghetti Bolognaise.

Rachel Cassidy - Owner - Little Peeps EatsRachel Cassidy is the author of this article and the founder of Little Peeps Eats.  She is a passionate food blogger and brand ambassador, but her most important job is being a mum!  Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.

10 simple tricks to create fun food for kids lunchboxes

Unicorn lunch punch makes fun food for kids

This article “Simple tricks to create fun food for kids lunchboxes” is a collaboration between Little Peeps Eats and Adventure Snacks.

My eldest son is now heading into  term three of Kindergarten (where did the first half of this year go?). I’m now starting to think about all of the fun things I’ve got planned to add a bit of fun to his school lunch.  When looking at some of the amazing kids lunchboxes on places like Instagram – it can be easy to think that it’s a hard task to create fun foods for kids.  But in all truth – there are a few tips and tricks that make the process quite fast and simple!Continue Reading →

OmieBox – is it really the best bento box for kids?

spaghetti-best-bento-box

This article ‘OmieBox – is it really the best bento box for kids?’ is a collaboration between Bambino Love and
Little Peeps Eats.  Featured image supplied by OmieLife.

There are an incredible number of bento boxes on the market these days.  Whilst there are certainly advantages of being spoilt for choice, it can also mean it is a tough choice to wok out which will be the best bento box for your children.

Over the years, I have acquired a number of bento lunch boxes for my kids.  They range greatly in size, functionality, and price.  I’d heard a lot about the OmieBox.  It’s been called ‘The holy grail of bento boxes’, and it won the 2017 Family Choice Award, so I was very curious to find out whether it lived up to the hype or not.

OmieBox – is it really the best bento box for kids?

The OmieBox was sent to me by Bambino Love – and was presented so beautifully, wrapped delicately in green tissue paper, I was dying to to see what was inside.

OmieBox Features

The OmieBox comes in a sturdy, quality box with all the important facts (care instructions, features, etc) printed on it.  Once I had that box in my hand, it truly felt like a premium product.  Upon opening the box, I was delighted to see my OmieBox in the ‘sky blue’ colour I had chosen.  The colour was bright and vibrant, and I knew instantly would be a hit for my son.  It certainly looked like one of the best bento boxes I had seen.

Size

It has three to four sections.  I say three to four, as one of the compartments has a removable divider.  I see this could be both an advantage or disadvantage.  As we all know – kids are notoriously prone to lose things.  This divider could easily get lost at school (or in the Tupperware drawer!).  I must admit though, I do love that I can slide the divider up and down to suit whatever I am packing that day.  It’s been two terms now, and it has not gone missing.  I was pleased to see that you can actually purchase these separately for only $6 if it does go walk-a-bout.

It’s fairly deep and holds a lot of food (6 1/4 cups) – including space for a sandwich which is important to me, because often it’s what my son wants for lunch.  If you are using the insulated container, it has a 4 cup capacity.

Mini wholemeal pizzas in OmieBox

Removable thermos

And here’s where this bento box truly differentiates itself from others… it has a removable thermos – which truly makes it the best bento box for the chilly winter months.

What I love about this thermos is that it is not long tall and deep like a lot of the portable ones are, which I find difficult to scoop (or spoon) food out of.  It is a perfectly sized bowl that is perfect to pack hot lunches.  The chunky handle means it is easy for little hands to open and close on their own.

Removable thermos omiebox

Surprisingly – it stays hot A LONG TIME.  I have found it easily maintains it’s temperature until lunch time, and often in the afternoon at 3pm I’m surprised with how warm it still feels inside the thermos.

With double walled insulation it means you can pack chilled items in the section next to it without them getting warm.

Here are some of our favourite recipes to pack into the thermos:


Image:  Goodie Goodie Lunchbox

Care & Maintenance

Hand washing is recommended, in warm soapy water.  It does clean very easily, and I haven’t had any issues with staining yet.

You can put it in the top rack of the dishwasher if you wish (except the thermos), however it is recommended you remove before the heat dry cycle.  I tend to just hand wash mine – I don’t want to risk my beloved OmieBox damaged at all from my dishwasher which has not been kind to my plastics in the past.

What I love

  • The gorgeous, vibrant colours available
  • The cute handle makes it really simple for kids to to carry, and put in and out of their bag
  • Incredibly versatile, being able to pack both hot and cold options
  • Top and side compartments are leak proof – I often pack yoghurt in one of the divided sections
  • Easy to clean
  • Simple for little fingers to open and close
  • Divided sections make it easy to pack a variety of foods, picky eaters may enjoy the fact the different foods aren’t touching!

Things to consider

  • The divider may easily get lost by kids that often lose things. However they are replaceable, and you don’t need to use it.
  • It has amazing insulation with it’s double walled bottom tray, and removable insulated bowl.  This does mean it is a little heavier than most bento boxes.
  • Given it’s a premium product, it means it has a higher price tag than a lot of bento boxes ($70), which makes it costly to replace shout it get lost.  Keep in mind though that you do get what you pay for.

Link to Fussy Eating Facebook Group

The verdict – is OmieBox really the best bento box?

If you are looking for a bento box that can take you all seasons, that you can pack hot and cold items, then I can’t think of a better product on the market.

It’s versatility and high quality really makes this bento box stand out from the crowd, and is a much loved product of my family,

Exclusive OmieBox deal for Little Peeps Eats followers!

Want $10 off your own OmieBox?  Use code LPEOMIE at the Bambino Love checkout!  Valid until 31 August 2018.

Rachel Cassidy Little Peeps EatsRachel Cassidy is the author of this article and the founder of Little Peeps Eats.  She is a passionate food blogger and brand ambassador, but her most important job is being a mum!  Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.

Mexican inspired shakshuka eggs with beans – Your go to nutritious quick dinner!

Shakshuka eggs

We know eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients but sometimes they need to be jazzed up a little for the kids, and this Mexican-inspired shakshuka eggs with beans really hits the spot during the cooler months!

Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish of eggs baked in a tomato-based sauce, usually spiced with cumin. The shakshuka eggs with beans expands on the cumin to create a unique Mexican flavour that most kids will already be familiar with if they’re big fans of nachos and tacos!Continue Reading →

Kids food allergies – clever ways to boost nutrition

kids food allergies fry pan

This article on Kids Food Allergies is a collaboration between Dr Jennifer Cohen and Little Peeps Eats.

For many years I was visited by parents in my private practice about kids food allergies.  When families came to me it usually wasn’t about giving them recipes for their kid’s who have food allergies it was to make sure that their kid’s nutritional intake was still good. Kids with food allergies, especially with multiple food allergies, must avoid lots of foods. Avoiding foods, especially whole food groups means that there are some common nutrition issues that I always looked out for in kids. In this blog post I talk all about nutrition and kids with food allergies.Continue Reading →

Little Peeps Eats – 1st Birthday Giveaway

Kid eating birthday cake

Little Peeps Eats is now 1 year old.  I still can’t quite believe it… and guess what… we are celebrating with an amazing giveaway with over $1,000 in prizes!!! [COMPETITION NOW CLOSED]

Before we get to the giveaway… (feel free to scroll down to the cupcake if you just want to know about the prizes!)  I thought I’d take a moment to stop and actually think about what the past twelve months have looked like for Little Peeps Eats.  What started off as a humble little website sharing the occasional recipe, it is now something even more special.  Little Peeps Eats has grown to a website with a shop containing all my favourite mealtime products, blogs containing not only recipes but also specialist advice to help take the stress out of mealtimes, and not to mention our wonderful Facebook community where parents can come together for fussy eating tips, recipes and lunchbox ideas.

Continue Reading →

Slow Cooker Lentil Bolognese – the ultimate winter belly warmer!

slow cooker lentil bolognese

Full disclosure – this article ‘Slow Cooker Lentil Bolognese’ may contain affiliate links.

This Slow Cooker Lentil Bolognese recipe is ridiculously versatile. By changing the herb and spice profile it could be a pasta sauce, a taco filler or even a nachos or baked potato topper.

The kids will love it in their thermos with pasta for lunch during the cooler months too.  Just remember to heat the thermos before filling it with hot food.  This way the food will stay hotter for longer.  Another option is to use a lunchbox with a built in thermos, such as the OmieBox.Continue Reading →