Nobody knows lunch boxes better than the mamas who plan and make them. Every. Single. Day.
We all start the school year with great lunch-box intentions – our kids will (unknowingly) be eating homemade stuff with kale, vegetables cunningly disguised as chocolate cookies and gourmet pinwheel sandwiches filled with all things healthy. We will vary their menu daily and create beautiful edible art that will be so irresistible that their lunch bags will come home empty and their tummies full. Sound familiar? Well after only 2 days of school everything’s already gone pear shaped and we’re back to zero ideas and last minute making. We turned to some of our favourite mummy bloggers in Dubai for some inspo and for their secrets…
It’s not all about soggy sandwiches….
Edwina Viel from Seashells on the Palm
We have sandwiches made from organic quinoa bread, organic turkey ham with small bits of cucumber and a tiny spread of home made guacamole (go to one of Dubai’s organic supermarkets for fab bread and organic fillings). If you use nutritious bread rather than overly processed stuff then you can be sure that your kids aren’t filling up on anything pointless!
Alternatively, also made home made organic bolognaise sauce is extremely popular, and it is frozen into batches. We blend celery, mushrooms, carrots, onions and garlic, and then gently stir fry until soft with a tablespoon of freshly ground turmeric (to make it a supercharged meal). We add the meat, freshly blended fresh tomatoes, and a jar of organic passata too for colour, a splash of himalayan pink salt for taste and a handful of goji berries for further vitamin C infusion (the children can’t taste it but traditionally it is added to all Chinese stocks and stews for health reasons). We then add this to organic spelt pasta or brown rice pasta. It is perfect for the lunch box because the kids get all their nutrients and they love it so we know the lunch box comes home empty.
Sherna from My Skinny Salad Bowl
Sweet potato, chicken and cheese tikkis (nuggets) – my girls just love these!
Take 1 sweet potato. 2 chicken breasts. Cheese of your choice (we normally use grated kashkaval but best to use a cheese your child enjoys). Bread crumbs
Boil the sweet potato (without skin) and chicken together in a pot of water until potato is cooked, usually takes about 15-20 min. Once the potato has cooled down. Mash it. Shred the boiled chicken and combine with the mashed potato. Make a ball of the potato and chicken and then using your thumb make a dent in the middle to add the cheese. Then fold over the surrounding potato and chicken mixture to cover the dent and size the tikki like a flattish round nugget. Coat the nugget/tikki in bread crumbs and cook in a pre heated oven for 30 min at 150c. It makes a large batch so you can freeze some for later and bake the morning of.
Nut-free granola bars – the perfect little healthy treat!
Take 2 cups rolled oats (I use Mornflake Superfast). 2/3 cup packed brown sugar. 1/2 cup wheat germ. 1 tsp ground cinnamon. 1 cup all purpose flour. 3/4 cup raisins, cranberries, sour cherries. 3/4 tsp salt. 1/2 cup honey. 1 egg, beaten. 1/2 cup canola oil. 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.
These are the base ingredients but its a pretty forgiving recipe so just adjust to your taste. You can reduce the brown sugar and even use whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. Just remember that reducing the brown sugar will immediately reduce the “chewiness” of the bar.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, beaten egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan, leaving around an inch on all sides of the pan if you want them chewy.
Bake for 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. YUM!
Emily from Dubai Our Sandbox
Mini Fritatas – packed full of protein and super easy for little people to eat.
Take: 6 large eggs. 1/3 cup heavy cream.3 slices of deli meat of your choice (turkey, ham or roasted beef), roughly chopped. Leftover chopped broccoli, baby spinach, tomatoes… whatever you fancy or have in the fridge. 1/4 cup corn. 1/3 cup shredded cheese of your choice. Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease muffin tin. In a large bowl, mix together eggs and cream until well combined. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tin, about 3/4 full. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Easy. And you can freeze them. YAY!
Heidi from Tuesdays Child
Kids ‘Boogie’ Mix. A guaranteed hit and great to keep their energy up.
This is sooo easy but it’s an absolute winner! Mix Cheerios, mini pretzels, Goldfish crackers (never saw these before Dubai, but lots of the kids seem to have them. My kids love the coloured ones!), Dried cranberries, raisins and any other dried fruit they like.
Serve in a little tub!
For a healthy pud we love the sound of Heidi’s Choc Mousse & Berries.
Blend 1 banana with 1 avocado, 3 tbsp cocoa and 2 tbsp honey – serve in a smell, well-chilled/ice packed tub with berries.
Corinne Fuchs from Mommy in Dubai
Bento boxes make packing lunches so much more enjoyable! You can spruce them up with little animal motif picks and other cute accessories from Daiso.
Here is what I would make for lunch: A whole wheat sandwich with sun butter (sunflower butter – a great alternative to peanut butter. Schools have a “no nuts” policy and it is the only one that is safe for children with allergies) and a smear of Balqees honey cut into fun shapes using a cookie cutter. Julienne cut cucumbers & carrots from Ripe. A portion of homemade popcorn with a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt & coconut sugar. A mini homemade wheat bran muffin . Apple slices + cheese cut out into hearts and diamonds (again using cookie cutters). Two dates (Bateel) for their health benefits including vitamins, energy and fiber
And for a special touch, a little handwritten note attached to the bento box. Make your child smile at school and remind them how much you love them!
Louise From Mum Of Boys
These Healthy Pizza Muffins are a fab way to get your kids to eat ALL of their 5 a day in one go – without them even knowing!
Take some homemade tomato pasta sauce (or jar of your favourite – c’mon we can all cheat right?!), 2 cups of chopped vegetables (carrot, pepper, mushrooms, onion, courgette, and tomato), 2 cups wholewheat flour, 1 1/2 tsps sugar, 3/4 tsp salt, 2/3 cup very warm water, 3 tbsps olive oil and 2 1/4 rapid rise yeast.
Blend the veggies with the pasta sauce and set aside. Combine 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the warm water and oil together and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until well blended for about a minute. Gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Dough should form a ball and will be slightly sticky. Knead on a floured surface, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic. Place your dough in a large, lightly greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free place. The dough should almost double in size.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a ½-inch thick rectangle, about 12 by 10 inches. Spread 1 cup of Veggie Sauce over the dough, leaving a ½-inch boarder around the edges. Sprinkle with grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese.Roll the dough gradually into a large, fat sausage. Slice into 8-12 slices and place each piece into a greased muffin tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and cooked through the middle. DELICIOUS!
Featured image sourced via Pinterest