Guest Post – Eclectic Lamb

I am away this week so my blogging friend Kathy kindly volunteered to guest post for me.  Please give her a big welcome and lots of lovely comments, and do check out her brilliant blog too! – Grace

Hello I am Kathy and I blog at Eclectic Lamb. Eclectic Lamb is a meatless food blog with an eclectic mix of fun and mostly healthy food. I feature bentos, themed meals, and parties that I prepare for my husband, nieces, nephews, friends and sometimes myself.

Today I will share with you my most memorable bento. I questioned my loved ones and will feature their favorites. If you asked the people who eat my bento why I make cute food they will probably say, “For her blog”. Yes I do make food for my blog but I also love creating and sharing my food with loved ones. I try to incorporate their favorite foods in meals they will enjoy and find interesting.

Birthday Candle Bento
Birthday: My husband named this bento as his most memorable. I made it for his birthday. The brownie with candle stencil was planned but not the candle pretzels. I had planned to make pretzel twists because I thought it would be fun to do a non-traditional shape. When the pretzel twists came out of the oven they looked like candles so I added cheese flames with a marbled cheese I happened to have in the refrigerator.

SnowmanLunch1
Snowman: I make a lot of lunches for my nephew who is now 9. He named this meal as his most memorable because it was the first cute meal he remembers my making. It is also the first one I made for him to put on my blog.

Lego-Lunch
Lego: This is my 9 year old nephews 2nd most memorable lunch. I have made many Lego themed lunches for him but this was the first. It is also a popular lunch on my blog and he sometimes asks me how it is doing in the ranking of my most popular posts.

TreeBentoWM
Tree: When I asked my now 12 year old nephew about his favorite bento lunches he also named the Snowman themed lunch as his most memorable. I asked for his second and he named a lunch that I am not proud. I allowed him to place some M&M candies as the background and he put a LOT of them. I think of this bento as a sugar bento – not a very healthy lunch. But it is alright in moderation and as this boy has a big sweet tooth it was his second most memorable bento. At first I was not going to share this and asked him for his 3rd most memorable lunch. He named a lunch I made not long ago but it will not be featured on my blog for awhile. So I am reluctantly sharing this tree bento.

Cupcake Themed Lunch
Cupcake: When I asked my Mom for her favorite she said that she loved them all. I guess that it is a typical Mom answer but not the answer I wanted. The most memorable lunch I made for my Mom is this one. I made it on a day she was coming to visit (she lives over 4 hours away by car). It was her lunch when she arrived. My Mom often makes macaroni and cheese for me but this time I made it for her in a cute cupcake.

Taco Lunch
Taco: My nephew who will soon be 14 quickly named this bento as his most memorable. It was one that I made for him to take to school in 2013. They eat a majority of my lunches at my house or on outings with me but sometimes I make them for school. Sometimes I bring them the night before but I have also drove them to their house before the school bus arrives.

PicnicBentoW

Picnic: My 15 year old niece said that this picnic bento is her most memorable. She spent a lot of time planning it and we made it together.

Peach Muffins Lunch
Peach: Many of my lunches are memorable for me. I am sharing this one because I was pleased with how it looked but it is not a cute lunch. It is part of a continuing series of featured ingredient lunches. Each recipe uses the feature ingredient. This one had peach muffins, peach and tomato salad, and peach yogurt.

For details on any of these lunches, please visit my blog. Thank you Grace for allowing me to guest post today!

CuteZcute Cuddle Palz Lunch & Fun Food Friday #33

Good morning, and welcome to another Fun Food Friday! Thank you if you joined me last week, there were some great posts linked up as usual!  If you’ve been making any fun food recently, whether it be lovely lunches, creative cakes, or a recipe you’ve blogged, please do join in the link up below and share the inspiration around.  I do my best to comment on and tweet every post that’s linked up, and I pin them all to my special Fun Food Friday Pinterest board too.  I am a little behind with last week’s posts, but I’ll try to finish visiting them all and commenting today!

The lunch I’m sharing today was made for the last day of term earlier this week.  I must admit that as the end of the year approached, I felt like I was all out of creativity and inspiration, so when the new Cuddle Palz cutter kit from CuteZcute arrived just in time for the last day I was delighted to have something to inspire me! A full review of the cutter will follow soon (and maybe even a giveaway… keep your eyes peeled!) but in the meantime I couldn’t resist trying it out.  The cutter comes with 4 super cute animal faces; koala, hamster, tiger and bear – Small Child requested the bear for this one.

In this lunch Small Child had a pile of homemade tortilla crisps, cut into bear shapes with the new CuteZcute Cuddle Palz cutter kit (it comes with a cutter for the body too, how cute is that?!), and a portion of houmous (in the polka-dot mini container).  On the side he had a pile of peas in their pods (he loves shelling them and eating them raw), a mini Babybel cheese decorated with a bear face cut from the wax with mini bento cutters, some cherries (with the stones removed) and a satsuma, with my attempt at a vague bear face drawn on with pen and a little hat pick to decorate.

Eats Amazing UK - Bear themed bento lunch with the new CuteZcute cuddle palz cutterI also added a reusable food pouch filled with organic strawberry yoghurt to his lunch bag (not shown).  Small Child was delighted with this lunch and ate the lot.  He really loves the new cutter kit and can’t wait for me to make food with the other animals faces!  If you like the look of the Cuddle Palz cutter, it’s now available in UK too – you can find it in the Eats Amazing Shop!

Now it’s your turn, what fun food have you been making recently? Please link up your foodie posts below and share the inspiration around. You can also link up Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pictures if you don’t have a blog of your own.

A few quick reminders before you link up; please visit some of the other blogs that have linked up and leave them a comment – we all love comments! If you are linking up from your blog, please grab the button below too, and put it either in your blog post or somewhere on your blog. Both old and new posts are very welcome, and do feel free to link up several posts if you’d like.

Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday

Thank you in advance for linking up, I hope you find some fun inspiration!


Frozen Dinosaur Eggs

Something a little different from me today! As we’re now in the summer holidays, and I’m having a bit of a break from making packed lunches (setting aside the many picnics!) I thought it would be nice to share some of the non-food related fun that we’ve been getting up to recently.  I’ve been surfing Pinterest, collecting ideas for interesting activities to keep us occupied over the summer (there seems to be an unending supply of amazing ideas out there), and I thought it was about time I got round to trying some.

The activity I’m sharing today was incredibly simple to put together, and just needed 5 minutes of planning the night before.  We are enjoying the most amazing heatwave here at the moment, so I wanted to try something fun with ice.  I keep spotting great ideas for freezing all sorts of things in ice to excavate, but the one that caught my eye most recently was frozen dinosaur eggs.

Eats Amazing - Dino fun with ice on a hot summers day

Supplies:

Balloons
Small Plastic Dinosaurs
Water
A Freezer

Preparation:

Take a balloon and stretch the neck so that you can pop a dinosaur inside.  If your dinosaur is quite pointy, be careful not to poke any holes in the balloon!

Place the neck of the balloon over the spout of your cold tap.  Slowly fill the balloon until the dinosaur is floating freely in the water.  Be careful not to overfill.

Tie the balloon up and place in the freezer until solid (overnight at least).  Repeat until you have made as many dinosaur eggs as you’d like.

Once frozen, remove from the freezer and cut the balloons off to reveal your frozen dinosaur eggs.

Eats Amazing - Frozen Dinosaur Eggs - Pop a plastic dinosaur into a ballon and fill with water.  Tie up and freeze for a fun summer activityAs you can see, mine didn’t come out quite as beautifully as the ones I’ve seen on Pinterest, but I thought it just added to the charm! Small Child was really excited to see them and took them straight outside to begin the process of excavating the dinosaurs.

I challenged him to think of ways to get them out.  First he asked for a sharp knife, but I thought that sounded rather dangerous so he went rummaging around in the shed looking for something to poke them with instead.  He found a couple of metal tent pegs, which he used to tap and bash at them but our eggs were frozen solid so they didn’t make much of a dent in them.

Next, he asked for some hot water in a squirty bottle.  He had fun spraying the eggs and watching them melt a little, but it all seemed to be taking too long for his liking, so he went back to the shed looking for something to implement plan D.

Eats Amazing - Icy experiment - melting the ice by spraying on hot water

Finally, Small Child found a solution in the form of an old hammer! He brought each dinosaur egg over to the concrete and bashed it about until the dinosaur was free.  He seemed to be having a whale of a time smashing up the eggs!

Smashing the icy dinosaur eggs with a hammer

He was most disappointed when they were all gone, and requested I make some more as soon as possible! This activity really sparked his imagination - he spent a good hour playing with his dinosaurs and the remnants of the ice – an ice age in the middle of summer!  They may not have looked as pretty as Pinterest, but I would call that a big success!

Eats Amazing - fun with ice on a hot summers day

Have you got any fun activities planned to keep your children entertained over the summer? I’m sure I’ll be turning to Pinterest for help many times before the summer is over!

Grace

Alphabet Lunch – Letter L

I’m sharing another alphabet lunch today - we’re nearly half  way through! Today’s letter is L, and there was no question about which Lunch box we should pack it in – it had to be our Lego Lunch box of course!

Eats Amazing UK - Alphabet Themed Food and Bento School Lunch Ideas for Children

In this Lunch Small Child had Leftovers from dinner the night before, which just by chance happened to begin with the Letter LLamb and feta spirals (you can see my recipe for them here). I decorated them with L themed picks – a Lion, Lamb and Lollipop.  On the side he had mini pretzels, which Small Child always says look like Love hearts, slices of cucumber, decorated with a Love heart fork pick and an L alphabet pick, and some mini fruit kebabs, made from strawberries and clementine segments, skewered on Lightsaber picks. I used some mini Lego snack boxes to hold some of the food, they’re the perfect size for the Lunch box.

Eats Amazing - Alphabet Themed Kids Bento Lunches - L is for Lamb Lion Lego Loveheart Lightsaber Lollypop

I also packed a reusable food pouch filled with organic strawberry yoghurt (not shown).  Small Child Loved this Lunch, although I was kicking myself for forgetting to include any Ladybirds! He really loves his Lego Lunch box, I should use it more often.

Grace

Items used to make this lunch:

   

Red and Pink Heart Fork Picks Thumbnail Alphabet Picks Thumbnail Bright Animal Friends Fork Picks Thumbnail Sweet Treat Picks Thumbnail Lightsaber Cupcake Picks Thumbnail

Disclaimer: This post contains some Amazon affiliate links; I may receive commission on items purchased through the links.

Alphabet Lunch – Letter K

Continuing on with the alphabet lunches today, this lunch celebrated all things beginning with the letter K.  As with J, I took a bit of inspiration for it from the suggestions of some of my fantastic Facebook followers!

Eats Amazing UK - Alphabet Themed Food and Bento School Lunch Ideas for ChildrenIn this lunch Small Child had pitta bread Kites, decorated with edible marker pen and with a string of spaghetti cheese, a little container of houmous to spread on them, red pepper sticks, raw carrot pieces, cut into K‘s, a cheese string, cut in half and decorated with a Kitty cat pick and King Koalas (made using the koala picks from this set and the crown picks from the princess set).  For dessert he had mini fruit Kebabs, including Kiwi fruit of  course, plus strawberries and blueberries, decorated with K alphabet picks, and as a special treat, Koala biscuits which we found in our local Chinese Supermarket. I finished the lunch of with another little treat - a tiny Kinder egg left over from Easter.

Eats Amazing - Alphabet Themed Kids Bento Lunches - K is for Kite Kiwi Kebab Koala King Kitty Kinder

Small Child was really excited about this lunch – we’d been saving the Koala biscuits for this lunch for ages and he couldn’t wait to taste them, especially as he almost never gets biscuits in his lunch box! Can you think of any foods beginning with K? I could only come up with Kiwi!

Grace

Items used to make this lunch:

 Square Silicone Cups Thumbnail Square White Sauce Containers Thumbnail Princess Picks Thumbnail Clinging Animal Picks Thumbnail Cat Dog Picks Thumbnail Alphabet Picks Thumbnail

Lunch Box Food Ideas – Fruits

Today’s post is another in my ‘lunch box ideas’ mini-series, in which I am sharing food ideas to cover each of the five food groups that I use when packing lunches (you can read more about how I try to create balanced meals for Small Child’s lunches here). The food groups that I try to include in every lunch, based on the UK’s Eatwell Plate recommendations are as follows: starchy foods (carbohydrates), vegetables, fruit, dairy and non-dairy protein. I hope that when the series is complete, you will have a whole range of ideas to mix and match together, so that you can easily pack varied and interesting lunches to last the whole year through!

Last week I shared ideas for different sources of protein, in today’s post I am exploring fruit, so will share with you 12 different ideas for fruits that you can pack in your lunch box.  This list is not intended to be exhaustive, just a good place to start if you’re looking for some fresh ideas.  I should probably also note that I am not a nutritionist or dietician - these ideas are based purely on my personal knowledge and research, and my own experience in packing lunches for my family.

Eats Amazing - Lunch Box Food Ideas - 12 ideas for different fruits to include in your lunch box1. Apricots – Fresh apricots are wonderful when they are in season - serve whole, or stoned and halved or sliced.  For the rest of the year dried apricots also make a great lunch box food – they’re really handy to have in the cupboard for those days when you’ve run out of fresh fruit.  Serve whole or chopped into little pieces and mixed with other dried fruits.

2. Grapes – We are big fans of grapes in this house! We alternate between green and red, and almost always have some grapes in the fridge.  Serve as they come, or skewer on long food picks to make fruity kebabs.  Grapes also freeze beautifully - you can eat them straight from the freezer (better than an ice pop on a hot day!) or pop them frozen in a lunch box – they’ll defrost but stay beautifully cool for lunch time.

3. Citrus Fruits – We almost always have a variety of oranges and ‘peeling oranges’ (clementines, satsumas & mandarins) as Small Child calls them in our fruit bowl.  Serve oranges sliced - like grapes, they freeze well and can be added to a lunch box straight from the freezer, to be nicely defrosted by lunch time.  Pop clementines etc into a lunch box whole, or peeled and broken into segments.  Add to fruit skewers or fruit salads.

4. Kiwi -Cut kiwi fruits in half and pack a small spoon, or peel and cut into slices or chunks.  When cutting in half, use a small sharp knife to cut a zig-zag pattern for extra pretty fruit (like the one in this lunch).

5. Dried Cranberries – like apricots, dried cranberries are an excellent store-cupboard stand-by and they make a nice change from raisins.  Serve as they come, add to salads, sprinkle on top of yoghurts or mix with other dried fruits, nuts and seeds to make a tasty trail mix.

6. Apple – Pop a whole apple in your lunch box, or core and cut into slices, rings or chunks.  You can carve pretty patterns into apple skin using a small sharp knife and/or mini bento cutters.  Don’t forget to dip or brush any cut surfaces with orange or lemon juice to prevent browning.

Eats Amazing - Lunch Box Food Ideas - ideas for different fruits to include in your lunch box

7. Bananas – Fresh Bananas are a classic lunch box fruit, with good reason - they make the perfect healthy fast food!  In their dried form, banana chips are another great store-cupboard staple that we always have on hand.  They can be quite high in sugar, particularly if they’ve been coated in honey or similar, so are best kept as an occasional treat.  You could also try making your own.

8. Blueberries – Blueberries have a great reputation as a super food, and they’re easy to add to a lunch box.  Serve as they come, or add to salads, fruit salad or fruit kebabs.  Add them to home-made muffins and pancakes or chop and use to top yoghurt. Dried blueberries are also tasty, and another great dried fruit to keep in your store-cupboard.

9. Dried Apple Rings – As you can probably tell by now, I like to have plenty of dried fruit options in the cupboard for disorganised days!  Dried apple rings are usually soft and chewy, and are a big hit with both of my children.  Serve in rings, or chop into small pieces and mixed with other dried fruit, nuts or seeds to make a tasty trail mix.  We like to add them to homemade granola, which makes a great topping for yoghurt.

10. Strawberries – No British summer is complete without strawberries! Serve them as they come, just slice off the tops or cut into slices or chunks.  Add to fruit salads or use them in fruit kebabs.  I love hulling strawberries and decorating them with cute leaf picks!

11. Dried Vine Fruits - We seem to get through a lot of dried vine fruits in our house (a mixture of raisins, sultanas and currents) so I buy them in bulk, store them in a plastic tub and just grab a handful when I need them.  Serve by themselves, or add other dried fruits, nuts or seeds.  Add to salads, homemade flapjacks, homemade granola or use to top yoghurts.

12. Raspberries – Beautiful pink raspberries add a lovely splash of colour to a lunch.  Serve by themselves, add to other berries in a berry fruit salad, or use to top yoghurts.  Also great encased in jelly – pop a handful into little tubs or jelly moulds, pour over sugar-free jelly and leave to set.

Eats Amazing - Lunch Box Food Ideas -lots of ideas for different fruits to include in your lunch box

I hope I’ve managed to provide you with a few fresh ideas for your lunch box.  I will be finishing this series next week with a selection of 12 different dairy options that are perfect for packed lunches.  In the meantime, if you’d like some more lunch ideas, check out my free downloadable list of lunch box food ideas.

Eats Amazing - Lunch Box Food Ideas - 12 differnt ideas for fruits to include in your bento lunch box

Do you have any suggestions for other fruits to use in a lunch box? I’m sure there are plenty I’ve missed and I’d love to hear your ideas!

Grace

Sports Day Lunch & Fun Food Friday #32

Good morning, and welcome to another Fun Food Friday! Apologies for missing it last week – I was ill and spent most of the day lying down feeling sorry for myself as the room span around me.  Thank you if you joined me the week before, there were some lovely posts linked up as usual!  If you’ve been making any fun food recently, whether it be lovely lunches, creative cakes, or a recipe you’ve blogged, please do join in the link up below and share the inspiration around.  I do my best to comment on and tweet every post that’s linked up, and I pin them all to my special Fun Food Friday Pinterest board too. 

Today I’m sharing a special lunch that I made for Small Child’s sports day recently.  The format for his school sports day is a morning of races, watched over by proud (and in some cases incredibly competitive!) parents, followed by a picnic lunch for both children and parents.  I made a special sports day lunch last year, so Small Child wasn’t going to let me get away without making one this year too!

In this lunch Small Child had Pitta Bread ‘medals’ made by cutting circles from a wholemeal pitta bread, and decorating with edible marker pen and a piece of bear yoyo (dried fruit), roast beef slices, rolled and skewered on alphabet picks spelling out ‘RUN’ and a little panda pick that I thought looked like he was running, some raw sugar snap peas and strips of orange pepper, a football Babybel, a handful of pretzel sticks and an Organix oaty bar, decorated with animal pick spectators, some strawberries, decorated with leaf picks, and raisins. I finished the lunch off with some organic houmous for dipping the veggies in.

Eats Amazing UK - Special Sports Themed Bento Lunch for Sports Day

Because we were having a picnic together, I made a little bento lunch for Small Baby too! I used a Japanese tiered bento box  for this, so that I could give him one ‘course’ at a time. In the top tier of his bento lunch Small Baby had some flatbreads, broken into small pieces, a slice of ham, cut into triangles, and a Babybel cheese, decorated with a  little teddy bear cut from the wax. In the bottom tier he had cucumber flowers, cut into shape using a mini bento cutter, a few sugar snap peas, sliced strawberries and a sheep silicone cup filled with dried fruit (chopped apricot and mixed vine fruits).

Eats Amazing UK - Special Bento Lunch for 11 Month Old Small Baby

Both boys thoroughly enjoyed their picnic bento lunches, it was so lovely to be able to see Small Child enjoying one of his lunches too, as obviously he usually eats them at school. Small Child did brilliantly at sports day too, getting two 1st places, one 2nd and one 3rd in his races.  I’m not particularly competitive but I was very proud of him!

Now it’s your turn, what fun food have you been making recently? Please link up your foodie posts below and share the inspiration around. You can also link up Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pictures if you don’t have a blog of your own.

A few quick reminders before you link up; please visit some of the other blogs that have linked up and leave them a comment – we all love comments! If you are linking up from your blog, please grab the button below too, and put it either in your blog post or somewhere on your blog. Both old and new posts are very welcome, and do feel free to link up several posts if you’d like.

Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday

Thank you in advance for linking up, I hope you find some fun inspiration!


Alphabet Lunch – Letter J

Back to the alphabet themed lunches today, and this time it’s the turn of letter J.  I was initially a bit stumped by this one, as all I could think of was Jam, but I asked for ideas on my Facebook page, and quite a few of my lovely followers were kind enough to reply and supply me with more than enough ideas to work with!

Eats Amazing UK - Alphabet Themed Food and Bento School Lunch Ideas for ChildrenIn this lunch Small Child had Jigsaw puzzle sandwiches topped with carrot Js, which I made from Warburtons sandwich thins, filled with ham (Jambon, if you’re feeling French!) and cucumber before cutting into shape with a sandwich cutter.  On the side he had a Jumble of Julienne carrot (cut using a Julienne peeler), decorated with a Jumbo Jet pick, clementine segments (under the grapes) and grapes, decorated with a J alphabet pick and Jewel picks, and natural yoghurt, topped with a lovely dollop of strawberry Jam.  I finished the lunch off with a few Jelly sweets (Hario Gold Bears) as a special treat.

Eats Amazing - Alphabet Themed Kids Bento Lunches - J is for Julienne Jumbo Jet Jam Jewels Jelly Sweets Jigsaw Puzzle

This lunch was fairly simple and quick to make, and Small Child enjoyed it, eating all but a few strands of carrot.

Other great suggestions made via my Facebook page that I could have used for this lunch included jalapeno, jelly beans, jerky, juice, jarlsberg cheese, jack cheese, jambalaya, juniper berries, jicama (I had to look that one up!) jellyfish, jumping beans, jack-in-the-box, jukebox, Japan, Jamaica, jay, Jurassic, jet, jeep, jewellery, joey (baby kangaroo), Jolly Roger flag, jug, judge, juggler, jumper, jungle, jungle animals and Jupiter. My followers are clearly a clever bunch! Can you think of anything they missed?!

Grace

Items used to make this lunch:

 Vehicle Cupcake Picks Thumbnail Alphabet Picks Thumbnail Spoon and Fork Set Thumbnail

Daddy Makes Lunch – Wraps with Eyes!

Today’s post features a lunch which was made for Small Child when I was temporarily out of action last week by Mr Amazing – yes, Daddy finally made another lunch! But even better than that (in my book anyway), he took the brave step of writing the accompanying blog post as well – his first ever! Be sure to leave him lots of comments and be nice! – Grace

Hello! Mr Amazing here – Grace’s long-suffering husband and bento widower!  Though my lunch efforts have been featured here before, this is my first ever post, but I thought I’d take over the reins today to share my own recent experience.

Now, once in a blue moon (once in this whole school year in fact!) Grace finds herself unable to provide Small Child’s lunch and the job falls to a reluctant Dad: me.  The temptation is certainly there to opt for the time-honoured sandwich-crisps-juice combo – it worked for my folks, but then I did turn into a fat kid.  Anyway, I digress… thing is, I worry in these circumstances when Mum has to be away (this time for a short hospital stay) that the boy will feel doubly abandoned if he opens his usually lovingly packed bento box to find a ham-fisted ham sandwich and a packet of Monster Munch (actually, I’d love that, if they were pickled onion flavour!).

So, off I went into the kitchen to give it a go.  What lunch box would I choose? What theme would I go with? In the end, after realising that I’d failed to stock up our larder the day before and we were dangerously low on ingredients, the results were pretty basic.

Still, what becomes apparent very quickly is that by following simple guidelines about what to include – you know, grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy, non-dairy protein etc, you can come up with a balanced meal without even having to think.  The lunch box itself, with its useful compartments and pots, dictates the amounts so your brain is free to tackle other ideas, like how to stop Small Baby eating mud from the buggy wheels whilst you find Small Child’s school bag!

Eats Amazing - Wraps with Eyes bento lunch made  by Daddy

Anyway, it’s a wholemeal wrap with ham, houmous and cucumber (oh it’s a ham sandwich after all!) topped with eyes.  Why not! Carrot sticks with a giraffe (obviously), natural yoghurt with grapes and blueberries to dip and a smiley face Babybel – I did attempt to use a cutter to stamp Small Child’s initial on the cheese but in my enthusiasm I squashed it flat! Still, it distracted Small Baby from eating the mud.

Even for a novice like me all of this took no longer than a traditional packed lunch with no extra thought, and, though I say so myself, it all looks pretty good.  And what did the boy think? Well, he said he loved it, especially the top wrap monster who is poking out his tongue!  Success.

Jamie

P.S. If you’re wondering what Mr Amazing does with his time when he’s not making wrap monster lunches, have a listen to this YouTube clip of him doing his real job!

Lunch Box Food Ideas – Protein Foods

Today’s post is another in my lunch box food ideas mini-series, in which I am sharing food ideas to cover each of the five food groups that I use when packing lunches (you can read more about how I try to create balanced meals for Small Child’s lunches here). The food groups that I try to include in every lunch, based on the UK’s Eatwell Plate recommendations, are as follows: starchy foods (carbohydrates), vegetables, fruit, dairy and non-dairy protein. I hope that when the series is complete you will have a whole range of ideas to mix and match together, so that you can easily pack varied and interesting lunches to last the whole year through!

Last week I covered vegetables, and in today’s post I will explore non-dairy proteins, sharing with you 12 different ideas for protein rich foods that you can pack in your lunch box.  The list is not intended to be exhaustive, just a good place to start if you’re looking for some fresh ideas.  I’d also like to note that I am not a nutritionist or dietician - these ideas are based purely on my personal knowledge and research, and my own experience packing lunches for my family.

Eats Amazing - Lunch Box Food Ideas - 12 ideas for different non-dairy protein foods to include in your lunch box1. Tuna – I use tuna a lot in our lunches, usually stuffed in a pitta pocket, with some cucumber or lettuce.  Mix with a little mayo or salad cream, add sweetcorn, chopped bell pepper or spring onion, and use to fill sandwiches, rolls, bagels, wraps or pitta breads, serve as part of a leafy salad, or mixed with pasta or rice.

2. Ham – Ham is probably the protein food I use most, because it’s a big favourite of Small Child’s, although I am trying to introduce a bit more variety! Add slices of ham to sandwiches, tortilla wraps, pitta pockets or the many other bread products available, serve by itself in small slices rolled up and skewered on food picks, or cut into small pieces and add to leafy salads, pasta, rice or quesadillas.

3. Eggs – Hard boiled eggs are a great easy source of protein, and are extra appealing when they’re moulded into fun shapes using an egg mould! Serve eggs whole, sliced, or mashed up with some mayo as a delicious sandwich filler.  Use to make a frittata or mini omelettes in muffin cups (recipe to follow soon).

4. Sausages – Whilst not the healthiest of lunch box foods, sausages are always appreciated when they appear in our lunch boxes as an occasional treat. Serve whole, sliced, or empty the sausage meat from the skins, divide into walnut sized pieces and cook to make meatballs. Mix chunks of sausage with pasta or rice or use as a tasty sandwich filler.

5. Nuts – You’ll never see nuts in the school lunches I pack as Small Child’s school has a nut-free policy for all foods (due to a couple of children with severe allergies), but if you don’t have any such restrictions then nuts are a wonderful source of protein, as well as fibre, essential fats and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. There are so many of different nuts available, all with different properties and healthy benefits, our favourites are cashews and walnuts, but you could also try almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans or pistachios.  Serve a portion of nuts ‘as they come’ or add to salads, homemade muffins and cakes, homemade granola or crushed and sprinkled on yoghurts.

6. Prawns – I often forget about prawns, but they are a great lunch box food! Toss into leafy salads, stir into rice, pasta or cous cous, stuff into pitta bread pockets with some salad or mix with a little mayo or dressing and use as a tasty sandwich filler.  Be sure to keep your lunch box cool – see this post for some handy tips in the hot weather.

Eats Amazing - Lunch Box Food Ideas - ideas for non-dairy protein foods to include in your lunch box

7. Chickpeas – A great source of protein and they count as one of your vegetable portions too, which has got to be a good thing!  You can roast chickpeas to make a tasty snack or side dish (see my child-friendly recipe here), or serve raw; stirred into leafy salads or cous cous.

8. Pâté – Although my waistline doesn’t agree, I really love pâté and Small Child does too.  Serve with crackers, plain rice cakes, slices of pitta bread, cold toast, or use as a quick sandwich filler.

9. Roast Beef - Whether you use up leftovers from a Sunday roast or buy ready-roasted, roast beef makes a delicious alternative to ham or other sandwich meats.  Roll up small slices to serve as a side with crackers or as a finger food, use as a sandwich filler, stuff into pitta pockets, roll up in tortilla wraps or shred to add to leafy salads or pasta.

10. Houmous – A big favourite of ours, houmous, is an excellent source of protein, among other things.  Serve in a tub to spread on pitta bread, tortilla crisps or crackers, use to fill sandwiches, tortilla wraps or pitta pockets (it’s particularly delicious paired with feta cheese and/or roasted red peppers) or serve as a dip for crunchy vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, peppers or sugar snap peas. Houmous is readily available in the shops or it’s really easy to make your own too, I’m a big fan of this easy carrot houmous recipe.

11. Seeds - Another easy protein food to throw in your lunch box, there is a huge variety of seeds available in the supermarkets and healthy food shops.  Serve as they are, mix with dried fruit to make a tasty trail mix, add to homemade granola and serve with yoghurt, sprinkle over leafy salads or stir into pasta, rice or cous cous salads for an extra healthy boost.

12. Chicken – Last but not least, chicken is a big favourite of ours! Use up leftovers from your Sunday roast or buy slices ready cooked, serve shredded as a side dish or mix in with leafy salads, pasta, rice or cous cous,  use as a sandwich filler, stuff into pitta pockets or roll up in tortilla wraps.  Home made chicken dippers or nuggets make a great lunch box finger food - there’s a simple recipe from Netmums here.

Eats Amazing - Lunch Box Food Ideas - lots of ideas for non-dairy protein foods to include in your lunch box

I hope I’ve managed to provide you with a few fresh ideas for your lunch box.  I will be continuing this series next week with a selection of 12 different fruits that are perfect for packed lunches.  In the meantime, if you’d like some more lunch ideas, check out my free downloadable list of lunch box food ideas.

Eats Amazing - Lunch Box Food Ideas - 12 different ideas for non-dairy protein foods to include in your bento lunch box

Do you have any suggestions for other protein foods to use in a lunch box? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Grace