Confessions of a Lunchbox Spy: Part 1

I admit to helping out at school excursions largely just to spy on other kid’s lunchboxes. It’s not in a judgy way, I just have a genuine curiosity about what people give their kids, and what they will eat. I peer surreptitiously into these capsules of life-sustaining nuggets and picture a parent much like myself, bored out of their brains, packing yet another lunchbox. Usually in a rush, usually instead of eating one’s own breakfast, and definitely wondering as to whether the apple will become a hockey ball at lunch.

For some, what the little people in their lives consume, is well, all-consuming. For others, it’s a matter of new year’s resolutions, and endless January web searches with the best of intentions, that then subsides into packing the same old thing day-in-day-out. We all know it’s important that our kids eat well, it literally improves their chances for “success” (happiness and academically) in life. But on a day-to-day basis, we are just doing our best – while often telling ourselves we could be doing better.

Some of us have kids who will eat mostly anything in their lunchbox, even if they complain about it a bit. But others have kids who will eat just enough to get by. An endless source of frustration for the maker of the lunches. Dumping yet another uneaten peanut butter sandwich into the bin at night. It’s a worry and it feels like an endless cycle. I’ve talked to parents who fill their kid’s lunchboxes with “crap” (their word, not mine) in the hope they will just eat something, even if it isn’t the most nutritious snack going ‘round.

We’d like to help make things a little easier for everyone, starting with small changes that will stick. We aren’t going to dictate that you follow the latest trending diet and we will be exploring all types requirements, because we know from experience, one size most certainly does not fit all. We aren’t going to lecture anyone, and we won’t make you feel bad about anything. Because we have definitely had many of our own lunchbox fails – and dinner fails, also breakfast fails for that matter.

From a nutritional standpoint, a lunchbox should include a variety of food groups, and the kid needs to eat the food in it. So these are our goals, every morning when we pack our kids’ lunchbox.

In very simple terms, the food groups we want to see are:

Protein / iron / dairy

Variety of fruit and veg


We also believe whole-heartedly in Nude Food. That is, food that doesn’t come in a packet and is as close to how nature intended as possible. We’ll be sharing more about why this is important soon. Once you start to include that philosophy in your food shopping, it will become second nature. And the benefits will just flow.

In order to get them to eat their lunch, we love to employ that parenting no-no: bribery! Otherwise known in our world as ‘keeping the kids happy’. Treats, and keeping things exciting are really important for engaging your kids in what you pack for them. Being treat-wise is the key, and we have some great ideas for how treats can be satisfying for both parent and child. Here’s a mini-muffin recipe to get you started.

Finally, we believe that nutrition comes from eating a wide variety of foods. This might feel impossible when feeding small people, but actively working to broaden your child’s palette is giving them a lifetime of joy and health in eating. Providing a positive attitude to food will help them, (and you), to respect their bodies by caring about what they put into it. As a chef this is a personal passion of mine (not to mention professionally prudent of course) and I will share more on this soon.

If lunchboxes are a daily struggle for you tell us why and over time we hope you will find something here to help you out. If you have any great suggestions, we would love to hear those too! Our aim is to create a community of people exchanging ideas, both helping and getting help. No two kids are the same, so nothing is ever a blanket-fix, but if we start small, you never know what might happen.

Love, Ali

Image: Braydon Anderson/

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