Getting started preparing lunches - Handy hints and tips

By George Gorgievski, School Lunch Box

We all know that when it comes to getting kids to eat let alone packing healthy, nutritious lunches the struggle is real! For me, lunch making has become my creative outlet and passion – now days I have got it down to a fine art and have some easy hints and tips to get you started and help streamline the process.

Start with your “must have” shopping items for the week. The following items are what I generally always have in the cupboard or fridge.

  • high fibre white bread sliced (always soft and easy to use)
  • packet of Croissants (pack of 4)
  • packet of wholemeal wraps

You can freeze the bread, croissant and wraps so they will last a couple of weeks, you can take out the slices the night before so they defrost.

  • bag of carrots
  • packet of mini cucumbers
  • punnet of melody tomatoes (cut into appropriate size for little ones)

These are generally the vegetables I use, they usually last for a week x 2 lunch boxes per day.

  • few hundred grams of grapes (be sure to cut in half for little ones)
  • 5 apples
  • 2 avocado’s
  • 1 mango
  • 1 punnet of strawberries
  • quarter of a watermelon
  • honey dew melon or a rock melon
  • 2 pears
  • blueberries (far out they’re expensive sometimes)
  • 2 kiwi fruit

The fruit will always vary depending on what’s in season. Be picky when picking the fruit, it’s OK to try before you buy, but don’t get caught!

  • packet penne pasta
  • box of crackers (salt reduced and baked)
  • packet of cheese sticks, go for the salt reduced please
  • packet of grated cheese
  • ham, 6 slices should be enough for the week
  • eggs, I usually get a dozen - my wife and I eat them too
  • sliced turkey, 2 slices
  • unsalted pop corn
  • Italian grissini (bread sticks)

If you have most of these you will be pretty much set for the week. I usually shop on Sunday’s and make it an adventure with my girls. It’s fun for the first 2 minutes!

You’ll be well covered if you have most of the above ingredients, I figure it will last a week or more, however, replenish fruit if it’s not right to eat.

When I am making the lunches, I think about Rainbows! Each time my girl’s see a rainbow they totally freak out, they jump with excitement and they love to name the colours that they see… so, my school lunches are inspired by the rainbow, I try and have colours from the rainbow most times - vibrant colours that say “eat me”.  I literally tell my girls that “Daddy packed a rainbow in your lunch today”.

When it comes to fruit, try and give them a selection of fruit if possible. Different fruits have different benefits, so changing it up and offering different types of fruit is ideal.

If your child struggles with eating fruit try and blend some fruit and make a smoothie or thickshake. Most times, you won’t even need milk, just some ice and fruit can make an amazing shake.  My favourite is berry delight: water, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, add some ice and blend it up.  Beautiful.

Fruit with more sugar includes bananas, grapes and cherries, – these are the types of fruit I limit while lighter options are berries, kiwifruit, stone fruit and apples, I really don’t mind how much they eat of these.

Children eat with their eyes so if it is bright and colourful this will make it much more appealing and they will be much more willing to experiment and try new things.

If you dare!

Try creating a little fruit platter and also add some vegetables too, for example, amongst the fruit add carrot sticks, cool cucumber’s and even corn kernels.  Vegetables and fruit together make an awesome healthy snack, the best snack in fact.

Colour Tips - Food Types

Orange – Carrots, oranges, mango and mandarin

Red – Strawberries, Raspberries, tomatoes and watermelon

Yellow – Banana, Nectarine and peaches

Green – broccoli, snow peas, avocado and grapes (don’t forget to cut these in half for little ones)

When packing lunches or buying food at the grocery store remember one word “Rainbow” that will help you pick food that is visually awesome.

There was a time when my girl’s would not touch broccoli, if you put a piece of broccoli on a plate on its own it doesn’t scream out “eat me”.  However, put a broccoli on plate full of rainbow food, it will shine also.

Finally

Just like when I used to go out with all my mates, before my lovely wife came along.  They were all athletic and handsome that I even managed to look half OK.  I was the broccoli of the school lunch box! lol.

Have fun making lunches! The only rule I abide by is washing the fruit and vegetables well, otherwise apart from this, there are no rules, be creative and rock those lunches.  There is no right or wrong, limit sugar or cut it out altogether…

For more inspiration, hints and tips check out www.schoollunchbox.com.au – and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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