Back to school: 3 quick and nutritious lunchbox ideas for the autumn

Author: Claire

Woman making tasty vegetarian lunch, close up

Whether you’re heading back to the office after the summer holidays, or you have children going back to school, September always feels like a new beginning. When it comes to packing your family lunchboxes, you may be struggling to think of something more exciting than sandwiches and wraps to feed your darlings with.

With that in mind, take a look at these three quick and nutritious lunchbox treats that you can make at home with the minimum of fuss. Be warned that if you choose to batch make them at the weekend with the kids, which we would recommend, it’s always a good idea to make double, so set some space aside on the worktop or in the larder.

Baked Banana Muffins

Just the right size for little (and bigger!) hands and totally delicious, banana muffins are always a winner, whether for breakfast or as sweet treat for the lunchbox.


250g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 large ripe bananas, mashed

125ml buttermilk

110g sugar

Pinch of salt

75g melted butter

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases and preheat the oven to 190C. In a large bowl, sieve together all the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, bicarb, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients – butter, vanilla, eggs, banana, buttermilk. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the wet ingredients, roughly mixing (but not overmixing) them together with a fork. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cases, then back until gold brown for 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Butternut Squash Frittatas

Cheesy, autumnal and very tasty, these savoury bites should last you all week (but probably won’t) if kept in the fridge.


1 large butternut squash, peeled and grated

1 red onion, peeled and grated

6 large eggs

100g goat’s cheese, crumbled

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)

4 sprigs thyme

Lightly oil a 12-hole muffin tin and preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then fry the grated red onion and squash for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have started to soften. Add the chilli and fry for another minute, then remove from heat. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the squash mixture, goat’s cheese and thyme leaves. Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cases, then bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until just set. Gently lift the frittatas with a palette knife and let cool completely.

No-Cook Apricot & Coconut Energy Balls

These little beauties are not only extremely good for you, they’re also a doddle to make, requiring a mere 3 ingredients and a few helping hands.


100g dried apricots

100g desiccated coconut and a little bit extra

250ml boiling water

Fresh juice of 1 orange

Pour the boiling water into a large bowl or saucepan and add the dried apricots. Soak until soft, then drain well. Chop the apricots finely, then mix with the coconut and orange juice until well combined. Using your (clean!) hands, roll spoonfuls of the apricot coconut mixture into small balls, then roll to coat in the extra coconut. Place on a large flat plate and leave to rest until needed.

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