Now that the long summer break is officially over and all schools have resumed with their new term, mums are finally getting some ME time over long coffee morning sessions. As quickly as the conversation starts with “How was your summer?” it invariably changes track to school, new term, new teachers and the stress of dealing with lunch box ideas that are healthy, fun and practical.
A few months ago I had to tackle a similar issue of packing a healthy yet appealing lunch box and struggling to get it ready on time for the school bus! So I did what I do best – I made a list 0f all possible options for the school lunch box. In another column I wrote down dinner options so I could alternate between the two on each day for a wholesome meal pattern at the end of the day. For example if I am giving a sandwich for lunch I would compensate by giving something substantial like rice and soup for dinner and vice versa.
The school snack box normally consists of a fruit and/or a chocolate milk drink or a fruit juice. This gets easily digested and they are ready for the next meal in two hours’ time. Sausages are included only if the carrot sticks get eaten the previous day. If there is an item that comes back half or not eaten then I check with the kids and strike it out from my list, no point in giving it again.
So here we go with my favourite top 10 lunch box ideas for kids. This is sorted according to a particular food – pastas, rice, bread, etc.
- Pasta (penne/fusilli) with tomato sauce
- Cheese macaroni (Kraft brand)
- Fried rice with corn, carrots, egg
- Steamed rice with carrot sticks/corn on the side
- Hot dog (cut into 2 pieces) or sausage sandwich
- Sausage cocktail (For vegetarians, you can opt for Linda McCartney’s Veggie Sausages and can use cucumber or dried apricots to alternate on a skewer)
- Bread/butter/jam sandwich with a small cheese cube on the side (on crazy-late mornings)
- Chapatti/butter rolls with a pack of raisins
- Baked beans and toast
- Egg omelette sandwich
Always remember to complement these meals with the right breakfast/snack and dinner menu so that your child gets a proper wholesome meal at the end of the day. If you provide a heavy snack like four cookies and then expect him/her to finish her fried rice at lunch it becomes unrealistic for most!
At the end of the day what we all really want is that they are happy, healthy and growing well. Try talking to them about the lunch box menu for the next day so that they are prepared for what’s coming up. If you know it’s their favourite then don’t tell them. Just say “It’s a surprise!” I also like to include little notes in the lunch bag sometimes saying “Mummy is missing you!” “Mummy loves you sooooooooooo much!” Don’t be surprised if you get a little love scribble at the back of the note! Now that should take your mind off the lunch box for a change!