A lovely reader of the blog wrote to me earlier this month with a couple of starting school questions. I had already scheduled posts on a number of topics that were discussed, but there was one topic which I hadn’t and it was on school lunches.
Thinking of interesting food to put in the school lunches everyday can become quite a challenge after a while, so I thought it would make a great idea for a post. Thanks for the inspiration Sharon!
School Lunches – A Process
If you have been in the school routine for more than a year, like me you probably have a routine or process that you follow which takes some of the hard work out of making the school lunches. If this is your first year into the school routine, you might like to think about making one. School mornings can be stressful if there is too much to do, making the school lunches into an easy job can help things run more smoothly.
Establish how much food is required.
Through trial and error I have worked out how much food my children need to get them through the day. Marita at Stuff With Thing has her first child starting school this year and is trialling food amounts during the remainder of the holidays, to work out what is the right amount for her child.
Create a template for school lunches
You can only really do this once you know how much food is enough for your children. I have found that approximately six (seven for my oldest, who eats the most) items is enough for my children and they are made up of items along the lines of:
- 1 sandwich or 1 wrap or 2 cruskits
- 1 whole piece of fruit – apple, banana, mandarin or the like
- 1 piece of veg – carrot, capsicum, cucumber, celery etc
- 1 container fruit pieces – strawberries, grapes, watermelon, rockmelon etc
- 1 home baked treat – muffin, biscuit, slice of cake etc
- 1 selection of crackers – rice crackers, shapes, organic corn chips etc OR
- 1 selection of dried fruit – apricots, sultanas, sunflower seeds, etc OR
- 1 selection of dry cereal – weetbix crunch, sultana bran, mini wheats
Once I have included the 6 or 7 items in each lunch box, I know that there is enough food for each child and mix of the appropriate food groups.
EDIT: We have moved back to five items now for the primary school kids as there was an increase in wastage. You can see some recent examples in my post here on Lunch Box Ideas.)
Prepare as much as you can the night before.
Lots of the preparation for the school lunches can be completed the night before.
- Cut up fruit and veg and store in fridge. I find that watermelon, rockmelon, strawberries etc can be cut the night before and placed in air tight containers until the morning.
- Cut up fresh ingredients for sandwiches if required. I like to make fresh sandwiches everyday, purely as personal preference. Some people are happy to make up large batches of sandwiches and freeze them in advance. I will often grate carrot, shred lettuce, slice tomato etc, the night before so that I can just place the ingredients into the sandwich in the morning.
- Make up cracker, cereal or dried fruit packs.
- Wrap up cake or muffins and place in lunch box.
Have a regular baking day/s for treats for school lunches.
I have found that having a regular baking day, helps make sure that there is a home cooked treat in the children’s school lunches. Through out most of the year I will have two baking days:
- Sunday evening which I do quickly by myself.
- Weekday morning when I cook with the toddler and up until this year the preschooler. See my post on Children’s Timetable for more info on this.
Here are a few easy to cook recipes that are a hit in my children’s school lunch boxes:
Buy in season fruit and vegetables from a market.
Not only is this cheaper, but it also helps keep variety in the lunch boxes through out the year.
Then if you are anything like me, there is a sigh of relief when school holidays come around and you can take a few weeks off worrying about what to give the children for their school lunches!
How do you go about the business of school lunches?lunch box, primary school