Feed a child, nourish a mind (Recipe: Tuna Cheddar Lunchbox Bites)

When my children first started school, I learned a vital lesson in nutrition, communication, and well, Mothering 101.

Here’s what happened: occasionally the boys would come home irritable; falling apart at the slightest grievance, snappy, and unable to focus. I’d power through those tough afternoons, admittedly breathing a sigh of relief when they were down for the night. As part of the evening kitchen clean-up, I’d tidy up their lunch boxes; often so tired or distracted that I hardly noticed what was left over.

Eventually, I connected the dots. On the difficult days, there was considerable leftover food in their lunch. Perhaps they had wasted time during their lunch hour or disliked what I had packed for them, but whatever the reason, their energy hadn’t been sustained for the whole day. It was a humbling moment for me as a mother. Of course. I had blood sugar crashes, so why wouldn’t they?

We started talking more about their preferences (how fortunate we are to have options). I encouraged them to help me prepare their lunch boxes in the morning and they had more of a say in fruits and vegetables. We baked together on weekends: chocolate chunk cookies, oatmeal muffins, and zucchini bread and froze the goodies for future lunches.

It broke my heart to think of them going hungry at school; I should have communicated better. Fortunately those crotchety after-school attitudes are now a thing of the past.

After that learning experience, I’ve had a heart for less privileged mothers who daily see the hunger signs in their own school children (oh, how they watch and ache) but are unable to provide even the most basic of lunch.

Today’s post is a little unusual, but it is one I am proud to share. In short,  I’ve partnered with a group of food bloggers to help provide school lunches for South African children. It’s really exciting! I’m also sharing a recipe for an absolute favourite (and totally simple) lunchbox staple, so please keep reading.

Feed a Child Nourish a Mind

Feed a child. Nourish a mind.

Today I’m collaborating with The Lunchbox Fund, The Giving Table and a host of food bloggers to put lunch on the table for kids just like mine. Our goal is to raise $5,000 to provide a daily meal to 100 South African school children for an entire year. It’s entirely possible, with your help.

Children who don’t have enough to eat don’t have the capacity to work towards a proper education.  I’ve seen how missing a solid mid-day meal can affect my own children, but these children have daily deficiencies.

The numbers are heartbreaking: 65% of all South African children live in poverty. However, receiving food encourages these children to stay in school and obtain their education. It’s a step toward breaking the cycle of poverty.

Oh, and that meal we hope to provide? It’s likely to be the only meal these children will receive in a day.

Lunchbox Fund

The LunchBox Fund

The Lunchbox Fund has been feeding impoverished and orphaned schoolchildren since 2005. It provides vulnerable students with healthy meals that nourish their bodies and minds. Awesomely, it forms partnerships with locally based NGOs or community organizations in order to evaluate and identify schools. It funds distributors to buy and deliver food, monitor the feeding scheme, implement a Project Manager, and deliver reports back to them for evaluation.

Their video is powerful; I encourage you to watch it and think about sharing it with your children as well. It can be humbling to learn how children halfway around the world live and grow despite their difficult environments.

Tuna Cheddar Lunchbox Bites | Simple Bites #schoollunch #recipe #glutenfree

Why school lunch for hungry kids means more to us than Valentine’s

Danny and I tend to sidestep most secular holidays, but we do tip our hat to Valentine’s Day with a bottle of wine and a special cheese tray. However, this year we’ve decided to skip that tradition in favour of making a donation to The Lunchbox Fund.

I mean, really. How fortunate are we to be in a position to give when so many are in need? It’s a small gesture, and I hope you will be inspired to do something similar. If not passing up a Valentine’s dinner, what about a weeks worth of grande lattes? Or the equivalent of a movie pass?

Every little donation can help us reach our goal of providing a year’s worth of lunches for these hungry children. You can donate HERE.

Thank you for reading and now onto our recipe!

Tuna Cheddar Lunchbox Bites | Simple Bites #schoollunch #recipe #glutenfree

Tuna Cheddar Lunchbox Bites

We’ve been getting weary of sandwiches and wraps in our repertoire, but these mini tuna and cheddar bouchés are saving the day, or at least, lunchtime. I’ve been re-reading Molly Wizenberg’s memoir A Homemade Life and her recipe for Bouchons au Thon sparked a flurry of testing in my own kitchen for a kid-friendly, lunchbox version.

Molly’s recipe (which I’ll keep handy for date nights) features gruyère and creme fraîche, which make for a divine bouchon, no doubt, but they are ingredients that don’t make the weekly budget. Instead I use cheddar (my children’s’ preferred cheese, anyway) and sour cream.

Similar in texture to a mini-quiche, these nourishing, gluten-free bites are filled with cheese, tuna and sweet onion. We love them hot with simple boiled potatoes, or at room temperature, perched on a green salad. We’ve even tucked them into lettuce wraps for a fast lunch, homemade tartar sauce optional.

They reheat beautifully, which means you can double up on a batch (recommended) and freeze half for quick lunch fixes. Just reheat them from frozen at 350F for 12-15 minutes.

Eggs and tuna not your thing? These lunchbox Baked Chicken Nuggets are another favourite of ours and a great alternative to sandwiches.

Tuna Cheddar Lunchbox Bites

A nourishing, gluten-free mini quiche filled with cheese, tuna and sweet onion. Simple to prepare and very freezer-friendly, these bites are sure to become a new lunch favourite.
4.6 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Snacks
Keyword: Gluten-free
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 212kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 1 170g can tuna drained
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup minced sweet onion
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese


  • Preheat oven to 325F and lightly grease a 12-cup mini muffin tin.
  • Put the drained tuna into a bowl and use a wooden spoon to break it apart into very small flakes. Mix in the sour cream, tomato paste, sweet onion and parsley.
  • In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and the salt. Add them to the tuna mixture and stir to combine thoroughly. Add the cheese and mix.
  • Divide the mixture between the mini muffin cups; I used a 1 1/2 Tablespoon ice cream scoop. Bake tuna cheddar bites for 15-17 minutes or until they are set.
  • Remove bites from oven and let stand in the tins for 5 minutes. Use a sharp knife or offset spatula to loosen around the edges of the bites and remove them from the tin. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.


These bites reheat beautifully, which means you can double up on a batch and freeze half for quick lunch fixes. To reheat: bake from frozen at 350F for 12-15 minutes.


Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 480mg | Potassium: 244mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 930IU | Vitamin C: 5.8mg | Calcium: 250mg | Iron: 1.3mg


What have you been cooking up for lunches these days?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. 5 stars
    What a great concept Aimée – thanks for introducing us to them. Heading on over to the site right now!

  2. Thanks Aimee — I’ve donated.

  3. Hi Aimee! lovely post and recipe and I’m so happy to be supporting The Lunchbox fund and #FeedSouthAfrica with you here today!

  4. 5 stars
    These look DELISH! I will be making them this week for sure as I already have everything on hand! Thanks!

  5. Oh, I recall those low blood sugar crashes well from when my boy was young, and the after school ones were the worst. My poor guy. These little bites look really delicious!

    I’m so thankful for our daily abundance, and for the ability to be part of this campaign. I know we’ll make that goal.

  6. 4 stars
    Thanks for the recipe. I donate monthly to our school districts backpack meals fund. Are you familiar with the backpack meals? Kids go home with backpacks with food in them ensuring they get two meals over the weekend. We live in a very nice townin central Iowa but at one of our elementary schools websend backpacks home with 50%of the kids. Poverty is very high in America. How many kids at your local elementary school are on free and reduced lunches? That will give you an idea of how many kids need food in your neighborhood.

    • Yes! I talk about this wonderful program in my comment too!

    • Hey Anita, good on you for your faithfulness! I’m Canadian, so am not familiar with the backpack meal, but that sounds like a fantastic program.

      I believe that supporting international causes does not diminish the need at home. In fact, it’s important to support causes around the world and look at the big picture of aid in a global sense.

      I could always do more at home, but I am involved in smaller scale projects that help feed the hungry like local food banks, etc.

      Whether my support goes next door, America or Africa, it it going to help a child in need and that is what matters most to me.

  7. So nice to be teaming up with amazing bloggers like yourself for such a great cause! My kids love a nice swap up to their lunches from the traditional sandwiches and wraps too.

  8. I love the concept of the lunchbox fund, unfortunately, in my son’s school there is a large disparity in the incomes of the parents and we have many children that spend weekends and evenings hungry, which is why we donate to our school’s backpack friends. It is such a wonderful idea to feed children of the world, but I need to focus on the peers in my son’s school. Each Friday we can bring a bag of fresh groceries along with diapers, formula, dry milk, bread, etc so that these children don’t go hungry through weekends, days off or the evenings. I am definitely going to make these tuna bites for lunch though! And thank you for bringing to your readers attention that sometimes irritability and difficult behavior may have reasons behind it other than children trying to get under their parent’s skin! I, too, now notice if my little man hasn’t eaten his lunch!

    • Aimee, that sounds like a fantastic program and kudos to you for getting involved.

      Thank you for your heartfelt comment. The world – near and far- needs more people like you.

  9. Thanks for the great lunch idea and inspiration to get involved with The Giving Table campaign. It’s great, y0u’re great!

  10. Aimee, when you pack these in lunch boxes, do you reheat and pack them hot so they cool to room temp, or pack them cold and let them warm to room temp? Since you use the Planet Boxes I’m assuming you’re not using a thermos 😉

    • Hi Megan, I send them cold, even a little frozen, and they come up to room temp over the morning. Hope that helps. I think they are better at room temp. We wrap them in lettuce leaves with a touch of mayo. 😉

  11. We are having a bit of a lunchbox struggle here lately – the 5 year old keeps bringing all her food home everyday! I’m going to try these tuna cheddar bites and see if they do the trick (apparently she doesn’t like sandwiches or wraps anymore. hmm.) And I agree, how lucky we are to have choices. It’s always a humbling reminder to notice that even when I feel like I don’t have much and that I am struggling, that there are still so many others that would be grateful for all the options that are available to me. This is a wonderful cause – so glad you have brought it to my family’s attention.

  12. What a fantastic program!! I love the idea of it and what it funds. The tuna cheddar bites are perfect for lunches – makes me want some too 🙂

  13. Thanks for the recipe – I’ll share it with my wife…we don’t have kids in school, but we get tired of sandwiches for lunch as well. Thanks for the charity information as well.

  14. 4 stars
    This recipe is very appetizing.I am sure my niece will love it. The lunchbox fund is such a great idea. I never knew we could make such a difference with a simple lunchbox project for the kids in South Africa. I’ll be sharing the video with my niece so she can appreciate the value of food and realize how lucky she is to be able to eat a complete meal in a day. In general, I think we should all be appreciative of what we have.

  15. I see a lot of recipes for gluten free meals, how about lactose free? I actually get meal ideas for my husband, he literally has to eat on the road in his truck between work stops. So he needs lots of finger foods. But he is lactose intolerant. Is there a good substitute for the cheese and sour cream? or will these bites hold together just fine without the dairy products?

  16. @Aimee Thank you so much for the recipe

  17. This recipe sounds perfect for us. Do you think these would be good heated in a microwave for a few seconds?

  18. How do these do reheated in the microwAve . Having a hard time finding lunch ideas 🙁

  19. Hi! Could I use cream instead of sour cream? Thanks!

  20. On The Gas says

    5 stars
    Soooo DARN CUTE!
    I would love to make. Thanks again!!!

  21. Would there be a way to make these without eggs? We have egg allergies in our home, but we love tuna and these look delicious.

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