Back to School – Battle of the Lunch Boxes by Chevaune Hindley
Somehow we’ve found our way into 2019 and the end of school holidays is in sight (collective sigh of relief from parents all around the country). And while we look forward to a break from feeding and entertaining our kids 24/7, we have a new challenge looming ahead of us:
The dreaded school lunch box. *Cue dramatic music: Dum, dum, dum, dummmm*.
I don’t know about you but I dread opening up that sweet smelling food coffin at the end of the day. A place where soggy sandwiches and half-eaten apples go to die.
And then the pressure of having to imminently pull a magical unicorn manoeuvre the next day, creating a whole new lunch time extravaganza, where you envision your kids devouring it all with a hunger only ever seen in the presence of a very large bowl of chocolate ice-cream.
So to help you through the pain, we’re throwing you a little bit of inspo and a few handy hints to not only create a lunch box the kids will engage with every day, but to also keep you feeling inspired and forever channeling your inner Maggie Beer.
- Keep it simple and colourful. Don’t feel the need to pull that magical unicorn manoeuvre everyday. Children don’t need a whole heap of variety and fuss everyday. Go back to basics with some old fashioned protein, veg, fruit and some nuts or seeds. Simple!
- Plan ahead. Most snacks can be prepared ahead of time. Throw together some protein balls over the weekend and chop your fruit and veg the night before. And pack as much into that lunch box the night before too. It removes a whole heap of stress the next morning.
- Say hell yeah! to leftovers. Who doesn’t love leftovers, right? Great on time saving and the budget, cook some extra pasta, rice or veg the night before and give the kids a good alternative to the more common lunchtime sandwich. Extra rice can also be turned into sushi or rice balls. Yum yum.
WHAT’S IN A LUNCHBOX?
- Keep the kids going for the day by packing a balanced, wholesome selection of food. Two serves of fruit; always a good dose of protein for brain power and long-lasting energy; some good quality carbohydrates (avoid the nasty types of bread etc.); and a healthy snack.
- Finger foods for the win. Easier for the kids – especially the ones who like to graze. Keep the kids interested with as many finger foods as possible.
- Eat fruit and veg in season. Not only is it more economical and planet-friendly, but seasonal fruit and veg ALWAYS tastes better. Making it more likely to be eaten! Try pack different fruit and veg everyday to help keep it interesting.
- Include a healthy, wholefood treat. Natural or greek full-fat yogurt sweetened with some berries, homemade muesli slice, bliss balls, popcorn, dried fruit, cheese and crackers, corn chips with homemade dip. There are loads of healthy options and the kids will love their lunchbox that much more!
- Look for resources and inspiration. We love Queensland based naturopath, author and creator Georgia Harding from Well Nourished. She has some great advice and resources on packing nourishing school lunches and just nourishing our kids in general. And you’ll always get valuable info from Laini Oldfield at The Wholefood Collective (based here on the Sunshine Coast) as well as the lovely Bel Smith from The Root Cause who created the 5 Minute Healthy Lunch Box System.
CHOOSE ECO-FRIENDLY PACKING
- Aim to create zero-waste lunch boxes. The food going in will not only be healthier but it’s also great for the environment and creates a good example for our kids. Living Smart Qld have some valuable tips for creating a zero-waste lunchbox:
- Select reusable containers or wraps instead of single-use packaging (try beeswax wraps or reusable sandwich wraps).
- Buy foods in bulk instead of in packaged portions and create your own snack packs.
- Explore foods that can be used as wraps: tortillas, lettuce leaves, sushi seaweed, sliced ham and rice paper can all be used to wrap other foods such as salad and rice, and can be placed into a container.
- Make your own snacks, treats and dips.
- Have a lunch box kit that’ll easily accommodate the foods your kids love.
- Stainless steel lunch boxes are a great way to avoid plastic plus they stay cooler for longer. Especially if you keep them in the fridge overnight. The Bento style lunch boxes are also a great way to keep all the food organised.
- Need some great eco-friendly lunchbox options? We have some wonderful suppliers right here on the Sunshine Coast including Ever Eco, Sinchies and Bee Eco. We also love Australian made suppliers We might be tiny and Go green lunch boxes for some fun lunch time packaging. The Root Cause have some great recommendations here too.
MAKE LUNCH FUN!
- Get the kids involved in the making. Try get them involved in each step of the process – from selecting fun and colourful food containers and lunch boxes, to creating a menu for the week and even packing their lunch boxes each day. The Root Cause have a great blog post on lunch box recipes your kids can help you make.
- Add as much colour as you can offering a visual feast for the eyes.
- Cut Sandwiches Into Fun Shapes. Sandwich cutters in fun designs are where it’s all at. That cheese and ham sandwich is far more likely to be devoured when cut into a dinosaur or star.
- Japanese vegetable cutters are your new best friend. Think fun shapes for fruit and veg, turning your watermelons and cantaloupes into bite-sized flowers and stars. Not only will the fun shapes make the fruit and veggies more attractive, the small size will make it less daunting and easier for kids to eat.
- Add a love note. Aww, there’s nothing more special than opening your lunch box and finding a special message from mum or dad. It reminds them that their lunch is made with love, that you’re thinking of them and that you’d really love it if they ate all their lunch!
There we have it. A few great resources and tips to hopefully make the lunch box mission more fun and less of a chore for everyone involved! We’re so lucky to live in a society where we can offer our kids wholesome and nutritious meals and lunch boxes – so relish and enjoy. And RIP to any sandwiches that make it home at the end of the day.
*Written by Chevaune Hindley.
Born and raised in South Africa, Chevaune had to live in 5 other countries before finding her forever home on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. This is also where she realised that she doesn’t know how to hack it in a “real” job and all she actually wants to do is travel, write, take pictures and tell stories. When she’s not doing that she’s daydreaming about food and travels, planning her next creative venture or spending time with her family (most likely on the beach.) You can follow her work and adventures on Instagram @chevaunehindley
Images provided by Ever Eco – @ever.eco