Finding the time to pack a healthy unprocessed lunchbox quickly is simple with a little forethought and organisation. Here are my top tips for making this daily chore easy and even enjoyable:
- I bake in bulk and freeze everything from cookies to crackers, slices and muffins, which takes care of both the lunch box morning tea and also often afternoon tea. If you’re making one batch of cookies for the kids, simply double it and you have a fast and healthy snack ready to grab and go. I pack frozen foods from the freezer and they are generally ready to eat come morning tea.
- The main part of the lunch is generally all or, in part, leftovers from dinner. For example, leftover meats fill sandwiches, wraps or fresh spring rolls. I often fill a thermos with hot leftovers like soups, casseroles and curries. If I don’t have leftovers prepared, then eggs and cans of tuna are my go-to proteins to build a healthy lunch with.
- If I do make anything especially for lunch, I always make more than I need and freeze the rest for another less-organised day.
- My lunchbox eBook has plenty more tips within its 150 pages to help minimise your time in the kitchen. Get your special haven magazine code to receive our first-ever discounted price.
Tackling the unfinished lunchbox
So you’ve made a beautiful lunch for your kids and some (or all) of it comes home untouched. This is a common scenario for many. It can be a frustrating problem. Here are some tips to help tackle the situation…
- Show them their lunch before they head out the door. For young kids you might need to discuss the best order to eat the contents (eg. eat the fruit first so it doesn’t spoil).
- Talk to them about why their lunch is coming home and negotiate a solution. If they want less food or different types of food, then you need to come to an arrangement with them. For example, a busy kid would probably do best with food they can hold in one hand to eat with minimum fuss.
- Don’t tackle food fussiness at school. If your child is fussy, don’t pack a new food or something they’ve not eaten before in their lunchbox. Establish healthy eating options at home first.
- Talk to the teacher about giving them enough time and encouragement to eat at school (especially little ones). Positive reinforcement from teachers goes a long way to establishing lunchtime routines.
- Make your expectations clear. My kids understand quite clearly that food wastage is something that does not sit well with me. If they haven’t finished their lunch, they eat it after school (before they get to eat any afternoon tea I have prepared). I’m not mean about it and I don’t force them to eat spoiled food, but they do respect and clearly understand my rules.
- Get them involved in choosing and packing their own lunch. Even little kids can pack part of their lunchbox and this is inspiring. Many parents have told me that this alone has helped to get their kids eating-up all their lunch.
- If all else fails, you will need to make sure the ‘bookends’ of the day, that is breakfast and afternoon tea, are very nourishing.
RECIPE // TOP TEDDIES
Besides containing toxic (often genetically modified) vegetable oils and sugar, many of the popular snack biscuits contain potentially immune-suppressing additives hidden under terms such as “caramel”. So here is my too-easy alternative to those cute little cookies. As a bonus there is no vegetable oil or additives. They are made with low-gluten spelt flour and are naturally sweetened. This recipe uses real ingredients – only the best for our precious kids.
Makes approx. 40 cookies, prep 10 minutes, cook 10 minutes
150g (1¼ cup) wholemeal spelt flour
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla powder, paste or essence
50g (¼ cup) coconut oil, melted
30ml full-fat milk or coconut milk
85g (¼ cup) sweetener (rice malt syrup, maple syrup, honey)
Preheat oven to 150ºC/300ºF. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In a blender or food processor, mix the vanilla, oil, milk and sweetener until well combined. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix together until a sticky dough forms. Roll into a disc, wrap in cling wrap or baking paper and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. Place the dough between two pieces of baking paper and roll to approximately 3mm thick. Cut desired shapes with a cookie cutter, place on a lined or greased baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Leave on the tray until completely cooled. Tip: If you don’t have the time or patience to cut small cookies, you can always cut the dough into squares (much quicker). Store in an airtight container for a few days, or freeze for up to a month.
Choose coconut milk as your milk.
Choose rice malt syrup as your sweetener.
Substitute the flour with the same quantity of gluten-free flour.
Add 30g (¼ cup) of cacao powder to the dried ingredients and reduce the flour by the same amount.
Add 1 tablespoon of cacao nibs or choc chips.
Choose honey as your sweetener.
For more healthy inspiration and free recipes, visit www.wellnourished.com.au.