6 ways to reinvent your kids' lunchboxes for when you just... can't.

Thanks to our brand partner, Livelighter

Another day, another lunchbox (or three). And by this point in the year, I hear you — inspiration is fading and it’s all too tempting to reach for the easiest not-so-healthy lunchbox options. 

And no judgement from me, I’ve been there. We've all been there, surely. Frowning at the open fridge, hoping something quick and easy that contains any skerrick of nutrition will present itself. Also hoping my kids’ teachers won’t look too closely at the contents of my boys’ lunches and judge my parenting (I’m sure they’ve got better things to do, but these are the stories I tell myself). 

The mental load of lunchbox prep is heavy, especially when we’re also thinking about every other meal our kids are eating and trying to get the balance of nutrition, budget and ‘will they actually eat it?’ just right. 

The lunchbox formula

So let’s go back to lunchbox basics, because there’s a simple formula to follow for lunchboxes when you’re feeling stuck: lunch, recess and snacks.

Lunch is of course, the largest portion — ideally this has grains, protein and veggies, and could be a sandwich, sushi, pasta, wrap or even leftovers. Recess is a size down from lunch, ideally a healthy snack like cheese and grainy crackers, popcorn, homemade muffins or yoghurt. And lunchbox snacks can be extra fruit and veggies — try to choose seasonal to save on costs, and choose fruits that transport well (top tip, soft fruits like raspberries don’t tend to survive too well being thrown around in a lunchbox). 

Healthy recipes that actually taste good? 

So far, so simple. 

Where I get stuck is coming up with ideas for lunch and recess that aren’t the same old things on repeat and that my kids will actually eat. 


But where to find inspiration? The LiveLighter website is my new go to for healthy lunchbox-friendly recipes of the sneakiest kind. You know, the ones kids will chow down happily, without realising they’re packed full of good nutrition? There really is something for any kind of eater in your house, and recipes to please even the fussiest of them. 

Here are some of my family’s favourites at the moment. 

1. Hummingbird Muffins

Image: LiveLighter.


It's a universal truth that your fruit bowl will always end up with a few bananas that are overripe and destined for a baked good. These muffins are a great way of using up brown bananas, and my kids love anything with pineapple. They also freeze well and defrost by recess! 

Prep time: 25 min.

Cooking time: 25 min.

Servings: 18 muffins.


  • 2 eggs

  • 1/4 cup caster sugar

  • 200 mL low-fat vanilla yoghurt

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed

  • 440 g crushed pineapple in natural juice

  • 3 cups self-raising flour

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • Olive or canola oil spray


1. Preheat oven to 200°C (180ºC fan forced).

2. Spray muffin tins with oil.

3. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer on high speed for 2 minutes until light and creamy.

4. Gently mix in yoghurt, vanilla, bananas and pineapple with juice.

5. Sift flour and cinnamon onto the batter then stir to combine but do not over mix.

6. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tins (3/4 full). Bake mini-muffin tins for 20 minutes and larger muffins for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean.

7. Cool in tins for 5 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

2. Pizza Scrolls

Image: LiveLighter.


Pizza scrolls are a classic for a reason. They transport easily and taste amazing. But buying them from the shop can make for an expensive lunchbox, and this homemade version is also endlessly adaptable and a great way to use up any odds and ends in the fridge. 

Prep time: 20 min.

Cooking time: 30 min.

Servings: 12.


  • 2 cups self-raising flour

  • 1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour

  • 3 tbs margarine

  • 1 cup reduced-fat milk

  • 1 cup low-fat cheese, grated

  • 3 tbs no-added-salt tomato paste

  • 2 cups pizza toppings finely chopped, such as mushroom, onion, capsicum, olives, Italian mixed herbs, corn, kidney beans, pineapple, shredded cooked chicken, zucchini


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a large tray with baking paper.

2. Add the flours to a large bowl. Use your fingers to rub the margarine into the flour until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add the milk and mix together to make a soft dough.


4. Sprinkle the bench-top with a little flour. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a rectangle shape about 40 x 30 cm.

5. Spread the tomato paste over the dough and sprinkle the cheese and other toppings evenly over the dough.

6. Tightly roll up the dough (from the long side) into a log shape.

7. Cut the log into 12 slices and lay the slices flat on the tray.

8. Bake for 20-30 minutes until lightly golden.

3. Bean Balls

Image: LiveLighter.


My kids love anything they eat with their hands, and devour these on their own but also love them in a wrap. Another great recipe for using up vegetables lingering in the bottom of your fridge, and you can just throw everything in the food processor. They also freeze well.

Prep time: 15 min.

Cooking time: 15 min.

Servings: 12.


  • 1 x 400 g can no-added-salt chickpeas, drained

  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted

  • 1/2 cup carrot, sweet potato, zucchini or pumpkin, grated

  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 3 tbs wholemeal plain flour

  • 1 tbs sweet chilli sauce

  • 1 tsp ground cumin, optional

  • 1 tsp ground coriander, optional

  • 1 tbs canola oil


1. Throw the vegetables and spices in the food processor (or use a stick blender with a bowl attachment) and blitz until you get a chunky texture. 

2. Squeeze out any excess moisture with your hands or a cloth and mix in the flour. 

3. Take a big spoonful of the mixture and roll into a ball with your hands. Flatten the ball and place on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

4. Heat half the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Add about half the balls, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown, then flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Place them on paper towel while you cook the rest of the balls.

4. Blackbean Brownies

Image: LiveLighter.


The ultimate sneaky sweet treat! Who knew black beans could be a key ingredient in fudgey delicious brownies? My boys are none the wiser and these always get eaten. You’ve probably already got the ingredients in your pantry — make them today I say. 

Prep time: 15 min.

Cooking time: 15 min.

Servings: 6.


  • Olive or canola oil spray

  • 1 egg

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 tbs oil

  • 1 400 g can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 4 tbs cocoa powder

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp baking powder


1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced). Lightly spray a muffin tin or use patty pans to line. This recipe makes 6 brownie bites. To double the recipe you will need a large food processor.

2. Add ingredients in order listed to a small food processor. Blend till smooth, scraping down the sides a couple of times. Add a tablespoon of water if the batter is not blending.


3. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tray (about 1/3 cup per muffin). Bake for 15 minutes and then test. Take out of the oven when they are coming away from the edges of the tin, not jiggly, but still quite wet inside. Let cool in the tray — they will keep cooking a bit but hopefully stay moist and fudgy.

5. Corn Noodle Cakes

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Eating spaghetti without a fork? The food of dreams for my boys. This is such a clever way to get your kids to eat veggies, and the eggs and pasta mean it’s also a great source of protein and carbohydrates to keep them fuelled for the afternoon. If you want a neat shape, use an egg ring, but they taste just as good with a rustic shape.


Prep time: 10 min.

Cooking time: 20 min.

Servings: 2.


  • 120 g angel hair pasta or spaghettini

  • 4 eggs

  • Pepper to taste

  • 1 x 400 g can creamed corn

  • 3 spring onions (including green tops), finely chopped

  • 1/2 capsicum, finely chopped


1. Break spaghetti strands in half. Add spaghetti to a medium pot of boiling water. Cook according to packet instructions. Drain then set aside to cool. Should make about 2 cups of cooked noodles.

2. Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Season with black pepper then mix in creamed corn, spring onion, capsicum and pasta.

3. Spray a large non-stick frypan with oil and place on medium to high heat. Drop heaped tablespoons of mixture evenly spread around the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden and firm. Flip noodle cake and brown on the other side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining mixture.

4. Serve with sweet chilli sauce and salad, if desired.

6. Mexibean Tortilla Melt

Image: LiveLighter.


These Mexican-inspired melts are a great way to get protein-rich beans into your kids, and they can be customised to suit their individual tastes. One of my kids loves spicy food, so I add a bit of dried chilli powder to his for a kick! 

Prep time: 15 min.

Cooking time: 5 min.

Servings: 2.


  • 440 g can no-added salt red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1/2 red capsicum, seeded and finely chopped

  • 1 tomato, diced

  • Optional: fresh coriander, ground cumin, smoked paprika

  • 1/2 cup cheese, grated

  • 4 wholegrain tortillas or wraps


1. Mix beans, veggies, cheese and optional herbs and spices together. 

2. Make sandwiches using the tortillas filled with the bean mix.

3. Toast in a sandwich press until crisp, or cook in a fry pan, pressing down occasionally and flipping to cook on both sides until the cheese has melted.

Search LiveLighter's healthy recipes for inspiration for your next meal.

Feature Image: LiveLighter.

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