Wondering what it takes to prepare a healthy lunch box for your school-going child? Here are some quick and easy ideas from the KSP community.
Bacteria will multiply quickly at room and warmer temperatures, and especially so when food has been prepared since dawn. If you prefer to pack for both recess and lunch, it’s better to use separate containers, otherwise the lunch may be exposed to more germs if the child’s hand is dirty when handling food at recess, or if the food becomes contaminated with saliva.
In my opinion, if your child is having lunch in school, it’s probably best to buy piping hot food that is cooked on the spot in the canteen.
— KiasuParents member lee_yl
I usually pack cold foods for my son. We use a lunch bag with ice packs inside. He’s in the afternoon session and so far, it has worked well. He doesn’t mind cold food (the weather is usually so hot anyway!) and I prefer not to let him bring hot foods in a thermos flask—there’s the risk of him scalding himself in a crowded canteen.
I’ve mixed and matched the following:
- Sandwiches e.g. tuna, shredded chicken, ham, cheese
- Chicken/quail egg
- Pasta, usually with Parmesan cheese
- Fruits e.g. apples, strawberries, grapes, blueberries
- Rice balls with furikake (dry Japanese seasoning)
- Cheese cubes e.g. Babybel or The Laughing Cow
— KiasuParents member kylene
I pack food for my kid, who has allergies. My main concern is food poisoning, so I’ll factor in the storage temperature and how long the food needs to last. I keep my cooking utensils absolutely clean and am careful when I taste the food during preparation. No fingers in the food after licking!
I rotate between a few easy items:
- Sandwiches (no cream or mayonnaise unless you can keep it cool). Ham is preferable (you can panfry it first to make sure it keeps well), egg is fine too if prepared without cream (use butter and salt)
- Fried rice (I don’t include meat, but will add some pork floss at the side) or stir fried noodles
- Potato salad (boiled potato, vegetables, sausage, dressing—olive oil, salt, and pepper)
- I tried another mom’s mini shepherd’s pie idea. It kept well but my son found it a bit messy—I had to omit dairy and eggs from the recipe and it didn’t hold as well.
- Fish balls: do be careful and cut them into smaller pieces.
— KiasuParents member ammonite
I like to prepare bento boxes for my boy. It’s not fantastic but he likes it. This is for a simple tea break:
— KiasuParents member chanelprincess34
For recess, my kids usually bring potato wedges, chicken nuggets, sandwiches, cakes, or breads. I don’t use special thermal containers; the food is either in aluminium foil, cling wrap, or plastic bags.
— KiasuParents member icy_mama
I pack fried rice, onigiri (rice balls), or cold soba with mains like tamago (egg), pan-fried salmon (marinated with teriyaki sauce), chicken, and vegetables like steamed or fried broccoli and carrots. I add fruit as well.
All the food must be cooled before packing. I’ll usually prepare the food in the morning and put the cooked food in a container—uncovered—and blast the fan at it.
Once the food is cool, I’ll put the container in a thermal bag (from my Lock & Lock lunch box set). I’ll use frozen juice or small ice packs (from Daiso) to keep the food cool, but it will be at room temperature by the time my daughter has her recess at about 10 a.m.
I tried giving my daughter hot food in thermal containers. Containers that are effective in keeping the food warm are a challenge for her to open. She’s also complained that if the food is too hot, she can’t eat it fast enough. If the food is lukewarm, I worry if it’s safe for consumption.
— KiasuParents member Dora1
At the beginning of the year, I will cook at home and bring lunch to school so that my son can eat it while hot at the nearby hawker centre. I have a few thermos containers—one for soup, one for carbs, and one multi-tiered container for vegetables, meats, and egg dishes.
The simple dishes that I prepare include:
- Fried noodles
- Fried rice
- Stir-fried vegetables
- Steamed or stir-fried pork slices
- Steamed or pan-fried egg or soft-boiled eggs
— KiasuParents member Jennifer
I freeze yogurt with fruit in small, freezable Daiso lunch boxes, and by recess, the contents would have thawed nicely—it’s cold enough to be food-safe and cool enough to eat comfortably.
The thawing does affect the texture of the yogurt, but not significantly. And some yogurt brands seem less susceptible. I experimented to get one that everyone approves of. I find that the frozen fruits (e.g. strawberries, grapes cut into pieces) act like little ice cubes, keeping the yogurt cool in its thermal bag.
— KiasuParents member CayennePepper
Besides giving my son money for recess, I give him ham buns from Four Leaves and a packet of milk as a snack. It is a lifesaver when the recess queues are long or when he forgets his wallet. If he does eat at the canteen, the buns and milk will be saved for the bus trip home.
— KiasuParents member cherrygal
Here’s what I’ve packed:
- Plain/seaweed/cheese crackers that kids can dip into canned tuna/salmon (buy cans with pull tabs)
- Fruit sticks (seedless grapes, strawberries, blueberries)
- Veggie sticks (cherry tomatoes, carrots); you can add a favourite dip at the side
- Chocolate pudding or fruit jelly from NTUC
- Yam bread (from Crystal Jade); it’s very filling even for an adult
- Wheat biscuits
— KiasuParents member TheAnswer
The comments above were excerpted from a KiasuParents forum thread on lunch box ideas. They have been edited for language and clarity.