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From cheese sticks to spaghetti spiders, here are some creative yet simple and practical ideas for your children’s school lunchboxes.

Read these articles for more winning lunchbox ideas and cool lunchbox ideas. 

Cheese sticks

  • Puff pastry
  • Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Cut the puff pastry into strips, or any shape you want, using cookie cutters.
  • Sprinkle desired amount of cheese on top.
  • Brush with the beaten egg.
  • Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden in colour.

Spaghetti spiders

  • Cocktail viennas
  • Spaghetti
  • Thread three pieces of raw spaghetti through a cocktail vienna.
  • Boil for 8–10 minutes or until the spaghetti is cooked.

Chickpea, pesto and pasta

  • Chickpeas
  • Pesto
  • Any pasta you have in stock
  • Boil the pasta until al dente.
  • Add the chickpeas and pesto and mix together.

Sushi sandwich

  • Slice of soft bread
  • Cream cheese
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • Cut the crusts off and flatten the bread using a rolling pin.
  • Spread with cream cheese and top with the cucumber slices.
  • Roll the bread slice up and secure the end with some cream cheese on top of the cucumber to make it stick together.
  • Cut the slice into rolls using a sharp knife.

Pizza wheels

  • Puff pastry
  • Tomato sauce
  • Ham
  • Cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Top the puff pastry with tomato sauce, ham and cheese.
  • Roll the pastry up, cut into slices and brush with egg.
  • Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until done.

No-bake granola bars

  • 2½ cups Rice Krispies
  • 1½ cups oats
  • 1 cup chopped dried fruit (such as cranberries)
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • Line a 20cm x 30cm dish with baking paper.
  • Combine Rice Krispies, oats and fruit in a large bowl.
  • Place the remaining ingredients in a suitable bowl and place them for 1 minute in the microwave, then stir.
  • Add to the cereal mixture and mix well, then press on the bottom of the dish.
  • Cool for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the dish and cut into bars.

30-second salad

  • Cucumber, cut into chunks
  • Cocktail tomatoes, halved
  • Feta
  • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Mix the cucumber and tomato together.
  • Crumble feta on top.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Find more creative ideas for nutritious, appealing lunchboxes here.

Lunchbox snapshot

1. Cheese
2. Cold meats
3. Hardboiled egg
4. Rusks
5. Biltong
6. Dry wors
7. Sausages
8. Olives
9. Pickles
10. Popcorn
11. Yoghurt
12. Samosas
13. Spring rolls
14. Dried fruit
15. Pretzels
16. Crackers
17. Loose cereals
18. Cereal bars
19. Soup in a flask
20. Rice cakes
21. Waffles
22. Nuts
23. Sushi
24. Apple sauce
25. Pastry pockets
26. Muffins
27. Mini pies
28. Salad
29. Nachos
30. Smoothies

Lunchbox combos

1. Hummus and pita bread
2. Cherry tomato and Cheddar cheese
3. Tzatziki and red pepper
4. Matzos and Bovril
5. Apple and peanut butter
6. Guacamole and raw veggies
7. Tuna mayonnaise with crackers
8. Salmon and cream cheese
9. Parma ham and melon
10. Fruit juice and ice: freeze overnight for a slushy summer surprise

About the book

Gem – a Cookbook of Family Treasures by Maria Findt and Sarah de Lange is the second collaboration between the two authors, following the success of The Cookbook for Families. Maria and Sarah have gathered a number of recipes from various contributors to give us delicious options for family meals, including breakfast ideas, and meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian meals. Their creative lunchbox ideas are simple and practical. The authors hope this book will, in time, “become splattered with butter, covered in sticky chocolate fingers and develop dog-eared pages as a result of incessant use”. Order Gem for R250 (excluding postage; R5 of the cost of each book is donated to charity) from or contact 072 728 3636. You can also find Gem on Facebook.