Picture this mamas – the kids have slept in (always on a school morning and never at the weekends right?!), breakfast just isn’t happening and you’re running late for school drop off – and to top it all off you still have packed lunches to make. Sound familiar? Well say goodbye to last minute lunch packing and sad soggy sandwiches and give your kiddos lunchboxes a little love and a Sassy Mama makeover.
Divide and conquer
Children love food that’s compartmentalized – buy a bento box style lunchbox or divide a Tupperware container with silicone cupcake cases and fill each with different ingredients and try to make it look as colourful as possible – our little people eat with their eyes first!
Plan, plan, plan!
Make a lunch plan so that you or whoever is preparing the lunchboxes knows exactly what needs to go in each day – much easier for shopping and for knowing that your little ones are getting a good variety. Make sure that each lunchbox has 1 starch, 1 protein, 1 fruit, 1 veg and 1 treat. Got a fussy eater on your hands? Let them plan with you and keep portions small so as not to overwhelm them (and see below our tip for a fab meal planning app that’s sure to get all the kids excited about food.)
Think outside of the (lunch) box
Gone are the days of soggy cheese sandwiches (they’ll haunt us forever mamas) – try homemade sushi rolls, pasta or grain salads, roasted chicken legs, spring rolls, frittata, mini pies – the list is endless (and last night’s leftovers usually make great lunches – honestly!) Use different breads for your sarnies, kids love bagels, wraps and English muffins. Keep food fresh and cool with an insulated lunch bag or by popping a frozen drink bottle or ice brick into their container.
A little treat will go a long way
As much as you don’t want your precious little person gorging on junk, you also don’t want to make their lunchbox so boring and healthy that they’d rather steal a friends. Make sure you include something fun – a mini packet of cookies (no nuts please!), cheese strings, a couple of chocolate coins – even a yoghurt tube- you don’t need to go mad but you want that packed lunch to get eaten right mamas?!
You must have seen ‘lunchbox dads’ incredible packed lunch masterpieces based on his daughter’s favourite shows (we especially loved his Finding Nemo creation) – no we’re not telling you to spend hours carving carrots into fish but a few magic touches will go a long way mamas! Buy cool cookie cutters for your sandwiches and include little notes or drawings for your kids – they love to be surprised when they open the box.
Dangle a carrot (or an apple, strawberry, courgette…you get the picture)
Desperate to get more fruit and veg into your little salad dodgers? Bake your own muffins mamas and cram them with the good stuff – from courgettes to carrots, apples to berries – they taste great and they’ll never know! You can also make your own fruit roll-ups, super easy and super healthy – just google and you’ll find.
Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today (yes ok we sound like our grandmas – but they’re right!)
Try to make as much as possible the night before – yes we’d rather be watching tv with a glass of something cold but you’ll thank yourself in the morning when the house is chaotic and you’re running late. Batch bake muffins or make a whole load of mini burgers to freeze and use when needed (defrosting in the evening and preparing in the morning). Make sandwich fillings up but leave filling the bread until the next day to stop it going soggy.
Turn to technology
These days there’s an app for everything – and lunchboxes are no exception. We LOVE La La Lunchbox, an app that makes a game out of a chore and takes the stress out of meal planning for families. Kids can select foods for their meals with fun monsters, coours and sounds that are then turned into a handy grocery list. As they say themselves ‘save time. save money. save sanity!’.
Right mamas, time to make our lunchbox meal-plan before school starts next week!