With the new school year about to begin in a few weeks, it dawned on me last week that with Bubble starting kinder, Foghorn starting school and the Woo going into year 2, I will have not one, but three lunches to make most mornings. Argh!
Towards the end of last year, our school made the push to start encouraging children to bring ‘nude food’ – snacks without packaging, with each class counting their collective wrappers at the end of the day, and the class with the least being rewarded in some way. (No pressure!)
So last week, after a little jaunt on Pinterest, I headed to my local IGA store to pick up some fresh fruit, veg, and other ingredients. I figure that now is the best time to see what is going to be a lunchbox hit, and what will come home untouched.
A couple of visits to the local park, and several packed lunches later, these are the lunchbox snacks that get the thumbs up from my kids.
Tasty Fruit Kebabs
These fun, and super-healthy fruit kebabs are met with excitement every time they pull them out. Simply thread your child’s favourite fruit onto a stick and voila! My kids love seedless grapes, kiwi fruit, rockmelon and strawberries on their but the combinations are endless and can be tailored to suit your child’s tastes. (Although unless they are going to be eaten straight away, I steer away from apple and bananas as they will turn brown by lunchtime.)
Talking of brown apples, how awesome is this idea? You can keep a cut up apple fresh in your child’s lunchbox by securing it with a rubber band. No more yucky brown looking flesh, and it really works!
Crackers and Cheese
Spruce up your child’s cheese slice with a cookie cutter, and couple with a few of their favourite crackers. It takes no time, and they’ll be only too keen to chow into them.
Never underestimate the effect a corrugated cutter, and cutting your child’s food up into new and interesting shapes can have. Carrots, cucumber, capsicums are perfect for little tummies, and are especially popular when accompanied with a dip.
Cheese and Ham Quesadilla
Quick and easy to make these cheese and ham quesadilla’s can be made the night before, cooled, and then stored in an airtight container in the fridge overnight, so they are ready to be grabbed and packed in the morning.
Pop a tortilla or wrap on your Panini grill or sandwich press, cover with cheese and ham, pop another tortilla on the top to make a sandwich, and cook until the cheese has melted and the tortilla is brown. Leave to cool and cut into triangles.
These are great for any number of fillings: tomatos, chicken, avocado, spinach leaves, cooked vegetables etc.
Ants on a Log
My kids love helping to make ants on a log (which also means they can’t wait to eat what they made). Our favourite way to make them is to fill the celery channel with cottage cheese or cream cheese, and then top with sultanas.
Other tasty toppings we enjoy at home include substituting the cottage cheese for peanut butter, or almond butter.
A Hard Boiled Egg
Eggs have the highest quality protein found in any food and contain at least 11 different vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fats and antioxidants, making them both a highly nutritious and affordable snack.
Don’t pack them if they have just been cooked though. Eggs will need to be cooked and cooled, and stored in the refrigerator overnight, and kept cool in the lunchbox with a freezer pack.
Apple & Sultana Bite
These quick and easy apple and sultana bites make a tasty afternoon treat.
I used leftover applesauce to cover a thawed sheet of puff pastry, and then sprinkled with a handful of sultanas, and some cinnamon sugar. Once you have finished putting your filling in (and you can use a variety of fillings e.g. cheese and vegemite, cheese and ham etc), roll it into a log shape, and then cut into sections and cook on 180 degrees C, for approximately 20 minutes.
What’s your best-kept lunchbox secret?