Getting inventive with children’s school lunches doesn’t have to be complicated. To help inspire you, we’ve selected five recipes that are perfect for school children – adults too. We don’t compromise on flavour – maybe a little chilli and salt – but otherwise, these recipes are filling and nutritious. From warming dishes like baked gnocchi to vibrant stir fry, kids are sure to love these school meals. Most of them can be made ahead of time too, which really saves time in the kitchen. The quesadillas may take a little more work but you can keep them warm in the oven while you make the rest.


Ingredients: Serves 4-6

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2tbsp garam masala
  • 100g smooth peanut butter
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • Handful of coriander  – ½ roughly chopped for use in the sauce, ½ leaves picked for garnish (not a kid’s favourite so serve on the side)
  • roasted peanuts, to serve
  • Rice to serve – cooked to packet instructions


  1. Place a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat and add one of oil.
  2. Add the chicken in batches to brown, then set aside.
  3. Into the same pan, add the onions and fry until softened, then add the garlic and ginger and fry in the other 1 tbsp oil for 1 minute.
  4. Add the garam masala and fry for 1 min more, keeping the heat low.
  5. Stir in the peanut butter, coconut milk and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. 
  6. Return the chicken to the pan and add the chopped coriander. 
  7. Simmer for 30 mins until the sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked through.
  8. Serve with rice and top with roasted peanuts.


Ingredients: Serves 4-6

  • 450g uncooked potato gnocchi
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  •  2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • 500 ml of tomato passata or tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 125g of mozzarella
  • 50g full fat greek yoghurt or splash of cream
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for serving
  • Fresh basil for garnishing
  • Pasta water – reserve a cup during cooking for the sauce


  1. Heat olive oil in a large, deep frying pan on a medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until soft, then add the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes.
  3. Add the tomato puree, tomato passata and honey, stir to combine.
  4. Add the dried oregano and basil, and season.
  5. Mix through the yoghurt / cream.
  6. Set a large pan on a high heat and cook the gnocchi according to instructions – until they float on top. Only a couple of minutes!
  7. Reserve some of the cooking water (1/2 cup), before draining.
  8. Combine the gnocchi with the sauce, and mix through a little of the pasta water if the sauce needs thinning out. 
  9. Pour into an ovenproof dish, top with the mozzarella torn in pieces, then place under the grill and cook until golden and bubbling.
  10. Serve with fresh basil.


(Option: add chicken / beef – get creative with whatever veggies you have: Broccoli / mushrooms, courgette etc.)

Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 200g dry noodles – rice or wholewheat is a good options
  • 1 large red pepper, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced thinly – using a peeler is a good idea
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped for serving
  • 100g mangetout / sugar snaps
  • 100g bean sprouts
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, low salt
  • 1 juice of a lime
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil


  1. Place the dried noodles in a heatproof bowl and add boiling water from the kettle. They will take approximately five minutes to cook. When the noodles are cooked, drain them in a sieve and rinse the noodles under cold water – set aside.
  2. In a large pan or wok, over a medium heat, add the sesame oil then add the garlic.
  3. Fry for a couple of minutes then add in your chopped veggies, apart from the spring onions – make sure the carrot is thin so that it cooks fast – stir occasionally for 5 minutes until tender.
  4. Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a separate bowl –  add more soy sauce or honey to your liking.
  5. Once veggies are cooked, add the noodles and the sauce, combine well.
  6. Serve with chopped spring onion and if you wish some roasted, chopped peanuts.


Ingredients: Serves 6-8

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 250g cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 100g peas
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 x 500g lamb mince or beef mince 
  • 2 medium carrots, grated coarsely or chopped into small cubes
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • 900g (roughly) of sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • Parmesan for the top
  • 50ml milk – use dairy-free alternative if required (coconut or soya milk)


  1. Heat the oil in a large, deep pan, over a medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and fry for about 10 minutes, until soft.
  3. Add the mushrooms and garlic and fry for another 5 minutes before adding the mince, carrot and celery. 
  4. Cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the mince has browned.
  5. Add the cornflour, tomato purée, thyme leaves, Worcestershire sauce and combine.
  6. Then add 300ml water and simmer for 10 minutes with a lid – add a splash more water if you need to. 
  7. Heat the oven to 220°C, fan 200°C, gas 7 then bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the sweet potato chunks until soft (10-15 mins)
  8. Drain and leave them to steam dry for a minute, then mash well with the milk to make a smooth mash – season.
  9. Stir the peas (frozen is fine) through the cooked mince mixture then add it all to an ovenproof dish.
  10. Spoon the cooked mince mixture into an ovenproof dish, then spread the sweet potato mash over the top – use a fork to create lines so they crisp up.
  11. Top with parmesan cheese / mozzarella / cheddar then bake for 20-30 minus until golden.


Ingredients: Serves 4


  • 1 yellow pepper, diced into cubes 
  • 1 small mango, peeled and diced into cubes
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 150g cheddar cheese, grated
  • Chicken cooked, shredded, or another cooked meat such as turkey 
  • 1 red pepper, seeds removed, finely diced
  • Soured cream and smashed avocado, to serve (optional)

Get creative with the ingredients, add sweetcorn or mushrooms.


  1. Make the salsa: mix all of the salsa ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste.
  2. Make the quesadillas by laying two of the tortillas out on a flat surface. Top each with the cheese, followed by the chicken and peppers, then place the remaining tortillas on top and press down, gently.
  3. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add one of the quesadillas to the pan. 
  4. Fry in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the tortilla is crisp, the cheese melted and the chicken heated through thoroughly. 
  5. Keep warm in the oven whilst you cook the rest of the quesadillas.

Serve in quarters with the salsa and some sourced cream.