The school holidays have already been and gone and most kids will be returning back to school next week. Where did the time go? Amongst getting uniforms ready, buying new school shoes and lunchboxes, thoughts then turn to filling the lunchbox.
I usually start out with great intentions at the beginning of each year and can think of dozens of yummy foods that will survive the school bag/lunchbox shake. Then things get busy and I find it difficult to come up with something different and interesting to eat. This year will be different for me again as my youngest, Miss4, is starting preschool. I’ll have an extra lunchbox to prepare this year so thought I’d put together a list of easy, yummy and colourful foodie bits to draw ideas from throughout the year for when things get busy.
A quick note; most schools have their own policies regarding food (some have healthy eating policies, some are nut-free schools) so you’ll need to ensure your food selections comply with your school’s policy too.
Anything that’s in season
Sandwiches, rolls & wraps
Chicken, lettuce, mayo
Curried egg and lettuce
Ham and salad
Schnitzel and coleslaw
Potato and egg salad
Curried rice salad
Zucchini and corn muffins
Ham, cheese and tomato muffins
Easy homemade sushi
Dried fruits (sultanas, apricots, cranberries, blueberries, banana chips)
Yoghurt (natural or vanilla) with frozen berries
Carrot and cucumber sticks with tzatziki or hommus dip
Cheese and crackers
Chocolate and coconut balls
Apricot coconut balls
Vanilla cupcakes with simple icing
Look at ways to save yourself time in the mornings and prepare as much as you can beforehand. I like to keep a selection of lunches in the freezer just in case I run short of time. Homemade meatballs, sausage rolls, pizza scrolls, chicken drumsticks etc can all be made in large batches and frozen in an airtight bag. Defrost the drumstick in the fridge overnight, the others are small enough that you can pull it out the freezer in the morning and it’ll be defrosted by lunchtime.
Wash and prepare salad ingredients on Sunday to see you through the week, just assemble each morning so nothing goes soggy. Make a large slice or batch of muffins and they’ll see you through the entire week. Freeze anything leftover.
Make yourself a meal plan each weekend so you know exactly what you’re making for lunches for the week ahead. If possible, prepare your lunches the evening before to make busy mornings as easy as possible.
It’s also worthwhile speaking to your child about their lunch and recess time. I was chatting with my eldest after sending him off to school with an amazing spread of different foods portioned in his bento lunchbox, only to have him sheepishly ask for a wrap the next day. He explained that his year level collects their food from their bags and are then sent outside to eat and play, and as he couldn’t carry all his small portions of food, he’d had to take his lunchbox with him. The students aren’t allowed back into the building until the bell goes, so he had to carry his lunchbox around the playground for the entire break period. It was much easier for him to have something he could carry in one hand and eat on the go.
A few last tips:
- Be realistic about how much your child can eat, and what their tastes are.
- Keep tabs on portion sizes.
- Give your kids plenty of different seasonal fruit
- Try and reduce the amount of packaging you purchase. Look at purchasing larger bags/containers and portion them into smaller, reusable containers.
- Keep a selection of different sized containers to limit the use of clingwrap and encourage “waste free” lunches.
- Limit the sweet and salty and eat plenty of colourful healthy food – eat the rainbow!
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