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. I originally placed 6 – 7 items in the kids’ lunch boxes, but found there was too much coming back home uneaten or half eaten in the lunch box at the end of the day.
For the last two years I have settled on five items which seems to be the sweet spot – the kids have enough variety in their lunch box which sustains them through out the school day with out (too much!) waste.
Create a template for school lunches
You can only really do this once you know how much food is enough for your children. Each time I make the school lunches I aim to include:
- 1 main lunch item eg sandwich, wrap or home baked savoury item
- 1 whole piece of fruit – apple, banana, mandarin, pear etc
- 1 container of veg – carrot, capsicum, cucumber, celery etc OR
- 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, rice cakes, etc OR
- 1 selection of dried fruit / seeds – apricots, sultanas, sunflower seeds, etc
Once I have included the 5 items in each lunch box, I know that there is enough food for each child and mix of the appropriate food groups.
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 in the morning, 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/wrap in the morning.
- If there is a home baked savoury item for the lunch box, wrap it and keep in the fridge ready to go.
- Make up cracker or dried fruit packs.
- Wrap up home baked treat 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 home cooked food in the children’s school lunches. Through out most of the year I will have two baking days:
- Sunday evening where I do the bulk of the cooking and do it quickly by myself.
- A weekday morning when I cook with 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:
- Easy banana cake
- Chocolate balls
- White chocolate chip muffins
- Anzac biscuits
- 100s of biscuits
- Quinoa balls
- No bake lemon and coconut balls
- Oat and seed slice
- Trail mix
- Healthy hot dogs
- Gluten free meatballs
- Egg and bacon muffins
- Oven baked mini burgers
You can find all my lunch box recipes here – lunch box recipes.
Buy in season fruit and vegetables
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?