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parents panel

Parents Panel: What do you put in your child's lunchbox?

Friday treats, homemade flapjacks… and no sandwich crusts, please.


AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. With that in mind, we’ve launched Parents Panel.

This week, we’re asking our panel all about the minefield of school lunches: What do you put in your child’s lunchbox?

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly.

Er, no fish…
Well, I recently learned what not to give them in their lunch box… smoked salmon! My son loves it but obviously by his break time it gets quite pungent. He was not impressed with me.

- Suzie Kelly

It’s a battle every day
Lunches are a bit of a battleground with my teenager. She’s 16 and doesn’t want a packed lunch anymore. She wants money instead to buy her own lunch every day. That’s money I don’t have, so she has no choice but to take a lunchbox or go hungry. She gets water, a sandwich and maybe some fruit.

- Denise Cumiskey

He has his biggest meal at lunchtime
I just bought Charlie his first lunch box this weekend to bring to his minder’s. He’s a good little eater and we tend to have his big meal at lunchtime, so something like fish or shepherd’s pie with lots of mash, or pasta with a tomato sauce. Packet meals like Annabel Karmel or Ella’s are really handy as well for a quick fix.

- Kait Quinn

Kait Quinn Lunch Charlie with his brand new lunchbox. Kait Quinn Kait Quinn

Avocado, mozzarella and even Polish cabbage
Tymek isn’t in school yet but I prepare lunches for him to bring to his minder’s. Current favourites include avocado and mozzarella spread for his bread, Polish soured cabbage and gherkins, cheddar cheese slices, mini carrots, walnuts, and homemade beetroot-and-pear pureé. I try to keep it interesting.

- Marta Lisiecka

Friday is treat day…
Making school lunches is the last thing that stands in our way before we get the chance to put our feet up before our own bedtime. We try to keep it varied and rarely use the same menu on consecutive days. They get a sandwich (crust-less), roll, wrap, brioche or cracker with a ham/chicken/salami type filling. Plus they’ll get chopped raw veg , varied fresh fruit and sometimes raisins and dry cereal and water to drink. It’s ‘treat day’ on Friday, so all of the above plus jellies and biscuits!

- Ross Boxshall

Ross Boxshall lunch Lunch prep at the Boxshall household. Ross Boxshall Ross Boxshall

I stick to things I know they like
The kids all have very different tastes when it comes to sandwich fillings. Rosie loves a PB & J, while Rhiannon loves hummus and salad. Malachi has either a ham or a cheese sandwich. I find with school lunches it’s better to stick to things that you know they will definitely like, because if they don’t eat, their concentration throughout the day suffers. Best to keep the adventurous foods for at home.

- Susannah O’Brien

Our toddler helps by choosing his own lunch
Our son now helps and decides what snacks and dinner he would like for creche for the next day. We get it ready the night before in the fridge, so he can put it in his own bag in the morning. The picture is what’s going into today’s lunchbox; dinner is meatballs, mashed potato and vegetable bake; snacks are a carrot bun, ham pinwheel, kiwi, banana and yogurt.

- Olly Keegan

dav Snacks and dinner for a day at creche. Olly Keegan Olly Keegan

Home baking goes down a treat
Often my wife Karen will do some healthy home baking and send the results off with the kids along with their usual sandwich/wrap, fruit and yoghurt. It’s a great way to fill their lunch boxes with something tasty at a low cost and while adhering to rules about healthy lunches. Flapjacks are the current favourite.

- Ken Hyland

One rule: no cordial
The kids get two lunchboxes each, one for small break with grapes and oatcakes and one for big break with a wrap or sandwich. The only drink we allow them bring is water. Cordial makes them go a little crazy, so it’s banned.

- Alan Dooley

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More from our Parents Panel: How did you wean your little one onto solid foods?>

More from our Parents Panel: Breast or bottle – which did you choose?>

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