With back to school comes back to school lunch boxes. Going by what other Mum’s are pinning on Pinterest, posting on Facebook and instagramming, the humble kid’s lunchbox has become somewhat of a competition. Bento boxes, sushi, quinoa, olives…. Just the start of the ‘lunch box wars’! Whatever happened to the sandwich, snack and some fruit?
I have to laugh because there is no way I could get my youngest two to eat anything remotely different from the “normal” or traditional type foods. I think it is great that kids are eating healthily and explore new foods but with boys who have very plain tastes, it is a bit tricky.
Mr nearly 12 is my most difficult to feed because he has Aspergers and it is difficult to get him out of a food habit to try new things. We also have tactile and taste issues to deal with. So really getting him to eat anything is the goal.
Sandwiches here consist of peanut butter at home and meat for school, either Strasberg or chicken loaf.
I have been trying to think of clever ways to get the boys to eat healthy lunches, so here are a few school lunch box ideas I’m trying:
Mini pizzas- these can be made using mini pizza bases, tortillas, wraps, English muffins cut in half, bread slices or bread rolls as a base. Then top with whatever your kids like. I make these the night before school and get the kids to help make them. I’ve found if the kids help make something, they are more likely to eat it.
Muffins- fruit muffins and savoury muffins. I use a basic muffin recipe and then add bacon, cheese, eggs and Italian herbs for the savoury muffins. For the sweet muffins, I will add dark chocolate chips or strawberries, blueberries, frozen mixed berries, banana… whatever you have on hand and whatever you kids are likely to eat!
Basic muffin recipe:
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar (you can omit this if making savoury muffins or use spenda/ sugar alternative instead)
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
90g butter, melted
Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 6-hole, 3/4-cup capacity non-stick muffin pan.
Sift flour into a large bowl. Add caster sugar and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre. Combine milk, egg, butter and coffee in a jug. Pour milk mixture into the well. Using a large metal spoon, stir until just combined (don’t over-mix). Add desired fruit or savoury ingredients.
Spoon mixture into muffin holes until three-quarters full. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 1 minute. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
Of course, there are the fussy, grazers who don’t like to eat much in one go or there is no time to eat but plenty of time to play in the playground type eater. I suggest lunches like cheese sticks/ cubes/ slices, cabana bites, yoghurt tubs or squeeze tubes, water crackers, dips in a small container, rice crackers (such as fantastic or sakata brands).
Small pieces of fruit work well with kids, as they are usually in a hurry to go and play. So it’s no use giving them a large apple or orange to eat. Stick to smaller sizing when picking fruit for kids. A handful of sultana grapes or season fruit like apricots, nectarines, watermelon are also good.
Just make sure you put in a napkin or a piece of paper towel in the lunchbox though, if giving the kids messy food.
Here is the boy’s first day of school lunch boxes, which consisted of a Strasberg and sauce sandwich, bbq shapes and grapes with a drink bottle of water. Nothing terribly exciting but it is what they wanted and food they will eat.
We shop for our lunch box essentials at IGA, where you can find all of the ingredients above, containers and lunchboxes!