When you’re getting called in last minute to cover a class for the day, it can be very easy to fall back on fast-food lunches. Not only is this bad for your health and your energy levels, it can also end up being more expensive than preparing your own. This is simply due to the fact that junk food does not fill you up and you will most probably find yourself leaving at 3pm and rushing to find the closest food outlet and essentially doubling up your lunch. (We’ve all been there!)

Hands up to those who have looked online for some ‘quick and easy’ lunch ideas, only to realise that you have to be some kind of Martha Stewart to pull them off and there certainly is nothing ‘quick’ about them. Also, who keeps pomegranate molasses in the cupboard, and what even is it!? 

How about some real relief teacher lunch ideas that are inexpensive, easy to pack and nutritious! We’ve got your back. We put it to the community and asked relief teachers what they like to take to school.  

Whilst there was a large group who take leftovers (obviously one of the most cost-effective solutions) sometimes there’s just no leftovers to take thanks to other hungry mouths in the family... 

Here are some fresh ideas as voted by your community: 

Lunch with a protein is the most common with tuna taking the cake for the most popular. Coming second is chicken and ham. Here are some of the ways teachers are packing these proteins into their lunch. 

Canned tuna or other canned fish with sliced cheese, crackers and whatever left over green salad or fruit or vegetable I have - easy to eat all that if you get lunch time duty and I always make sure I have the above in the store cupboard or fridge so I can grab if I’m unprepared.
— Melissa G 
Love those chicken rice (two in a packet) from Aldi and a can of tuna. I just heat small tub of rice for 40 secs and presto, a nice warm meal. You can add some spinach and tomatoes too if you want
— Cristy V 
My go-to is the cup noodles, a can of tuna and some bananas/carrots plus a tub of yoghurt from one of those 6-packs! My current school only has 30 minute lunch so its a rush job!! ..but we do finish at 2.30 which is a huge plus!
— Kent B 
Make a wrap of ham & cheese slices or BBQ chicken & mayo; small container with hummus dip & carrot sticks; and a snack of fruit or small pack of biscuits
— Joanne M 
Rice crackers with sliced cheese and ham mainly for recess (sometimes lunch) Then I take baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, half an avocado, 2 mushrooms and a salmon or tuna tin and some salad dressing (in a small container) I take a knife with me to school so I can cut up the veggies so it is nice and fresh! Nothing worse than a soggy salad
— Gemma Elyse B

Meal prep teachers – the organised bunch!  

I buy a BBQ chicken at the start of the week and use it for different types of dishes like a chicken sandwich or wrap, or I chuck it in a salad. I’ve made BBQ chicken rice paper rolls with avocado and sweet chilli which was really nice! Just a bit fiddly with the rice paper so you really have to meal prep those the night before.
— Toto T
I pre-make a batch of quinoa or isreali cous cous on a Sunday and roast some veggies. I then have either of the above as a base, roast veggies, fetta and some walnuts - then I take dressing on the side. I like to have a hard boiled egg with it as protein. I’m veggo so need to get protein outside of meat.
— Joanne D
I make banana bread (freeze already sliced) and protein balls that go into my relief day lunch.
— Melissa H


Even more healthy and fast lunch ideas

Love tuna? Here are some other ways you can incorporate this versatile protein:  

Indian-style tuna and rice 

Place 2 cups basmati rice with 3 cups cold water in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add chopped green beans and cook for 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in 1/4 cup Indian curry paste, halved cherry tomatoes and flaked tuna. Cook until tomato softens. Stir in chopped coriander. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with plain yoghurt. 

Buckwheat soba and tuna salad 

Cook buckwheat soba noodles. Refresh under cold water. Toss noodles with flaked tuna, chopped tomato, chopped avocado, juice of a lime and fried shallots. Season with salt and pepper. 

Tuna with soy and sushi rice 

Cook 2 cups rinsed sushi rice following packet directions. Cool. Drizzle rice with 1/4 cup sushi seasoning. Fold with a spatula to combine. Fold in 3 teaspoons soy sauce, flaked tuna, sliced green onion, toasted sesame seeds and finely chopped cucumber. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with sliced toasted nori sheets, if you like. 



As much as salads can be boring, they don’t always have to be! These salad combos can be tasty yet nutritious, and very eye-catching with an array of colours guaranteed to spark some conversation in the staff room.

Lentil Salad

Grain Salad

Pasta Salad

Rice Paper Rolls  

For a lunch that won’t leave you feeling sluggish, tired or like you have severely over-eaten, try freshly made rice paper rolls that can be prepared the night before and placed in the fridge for the next day. In order to do this, keep the sauce on the side to avoid them going soggy!  

Even get creative and spice up the fillings for a different taste; try tofu, garlic prawns or even fish alongside the salad components! 



If you are after a high-protein, filling lunch that will last you the rest of your schooling day, then maybe a wrap is for you! From experience, I know that when I have a wrap for lunch, it can fill me up for longer periods of time than say a salad would. You could even re-purpose vegetables eg: sweet potato or zucchini from the night before and place them in a wrap with a protein of your choice and any other salad options you prefer, and the sauce of your choice.  


Poke Bowl 

These colourful bowls can be enjoyed hot or cold, and are a quick way to get your veggies, protein and good fats in for the day, in an efficient and timely manner. 

You could even re-purpose veggies from the night before in this bowl, or even chicken. All you would have to do is add some rice, which can be pre-cooked the night before, and a dressing/sauce of your choice. If you cannot re-purpose leftovers from the night before, pre-cooking your veggies or protein in the oven the night before, your rice in the microwave, you can pack this lunch away in the fridge before you got to sleep and wake up to a tasty, healthy meal. If you wish to add avocado, for example, you may like to do so in the morning, alongside the sauce, to avoid the contents becoming soggy. 


Do you have more ideas? Let us know in the comments!