Back to school and back to lunch boxes!
One of the joys of the school holidays for many parents is that they get a few weeks away from packing lunchboxes. We all feel it when we approach the end of term – it seems like we have been packing lunchboxes forever! So as a new term dawns we often dread the start of the lunchbox routine but there is really no need. With some planning & great food ideas, we can take the pain away!
How to be organised for school lunches
The easiest way to make sure lunchboxes are not a chore is to plan ahead. Decide in advance what you are going to include, write a shopping list & buy the right ingredients so you have everything you need at home.
Where possible, choose foods that you can make in larger quantities that will do a few days. For example, double the bread mix so you have two loaves, make a larger pizza or cook a few extra sausages which will keep for a few days. Also use your freezer. Make things in bulk & freeze extra so you always have things available. Our Sinchies reusable sandwich, wrap and snack bags are great for this so you can freeze in portions and all you’ve got to do in the morning is grab a pack out the freezer! It is a good idea to set aside a half day a week to just cook for the freezer. Another good tip is to always have bread in the freezer just in case you run out!
Our Sinchies reusable pouches are great too (of course). You can use them for sweet & savoury foods & fill a few in advance & store them in the fridge or freezer. Good options include fruit smoothies, fruit purees, yoghurt, custard & dips. We’ve got a great collection of recipes here! This not only saves you money as you can use the pouch again, it also allows you to use up any leftover fruit & vegetables & none goes to waste!
Another great option for lunch is leftovers! For example, cold meat with vegetables & salads made from leftover pasta, rice or quinoa make quick & tasty lunch ideas.
Also think about when you pack their lunchbox. If the mornings are too rushed then do it the night before & store it in the fridge. Always include an ice block in the lunchbox too so that the food stays cool.
How to make school lunches for allergies
Due to the increase in the number of children with food allergies, many schools & daycares have rules that state certain foods must not be included in lunch boxes, with nuts & eggs being the most common ones. In addition, many schools & daycares now have guidelines outlining the type of foods that should & should not be included in the lunch box. Usually foods such as chocolate, cakes, crisps & fizzy drinks should be avoided & yoghurt, fresh fruit & vegetables are encouraged.
How to make shopping fun
Get your children involved in food shopping & making their lunches as they are more likely to eat it when they help choose & make their food. Try to make the food fun too such as smiley faces from vegetables on pizzas & stickers on the banana skin. You can also enclose little notes & pictures in their lunchbox as a surprise! The more fun it is for them, the more likely they are to eat it.
Where to get lunchbox ideas
To help you get back into the lunchbox routine, here are some lunch ideas for you –
- Sushi – this can be homemade or bought. It is hard for little mouths to bite a sushi roll so cut it up into slices for them.
- Cold sausages & tomato dip
- Sandwiches – these can be varied by using different breads & wraps plus lots of different fillings including ideas such as smashed avocado, smoked salmon or homemade pesto
- Leftover meat & vegetables from the day before
- Home made pizza – you can do lots of different toppings & different bases to add variety
- Hummus with vegetable sticks
- Fruit smoothies – use the fruit in season to add variety & this often saves you money
- Homemade muffins sweetened with apple puree to cut back on sugar
- Pancakes – you can make these plain or add fruit
- Banana bread – look for a low sugar recipe
- Dried fruit mix – this can include a variety of items from your cupboard such as banana chips, sultanas & dried apricots
- Salsa or pesto & crackers
Lunch boxes no longer need to be something we dread. With some planning, they can be made quickly & easily with lots of healthy food choices which will give your children the nutrition they need ensure they are focused & full of energy for the day. So as the new term looms, think ahead & stock your freezer & cupboards now. Be prepared & the next term will be a lot less challenging than before!
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This blog post was written for us by Caroline Harridence
Caroline is a health coach & personal trainer who is passionate about creating healthy homes & helping families lead happy & healthy lives. She runs a successful health coaching business as well as hosting events & classes on health related topics. She also writes for a number of organisations & blogs, & is soon to release an online program for families to help them move to a more healthy, toxin free lifestyle.
Caroline is very passionate about the elimination of chemicals around the home. She is a qualified biochemist so has a thorough understanding of the impact these chemicals can have on our health. She can offer families advice on what to look out for & what alternatives there are. She can even show you how to make your own products to help families reduce their exposure to toxins.
Caroline is originally from Scotland but now lives in sunny Brisbane. She is a busy mother of young children & leads a very active life. She loves to cook, read & is a keen runner. She also enjoys meditation & has recently developed a love of yoga.