My Hubby has done most of the school holidays solo this year, he's very ready for the frills to return, but me, I love having them at home - and like to have the break from the rush of getting to school, the million lists of things that have to be in the bag on certain days..
I've just started up my lunchbox baking for stashing, (check out my lunchbox legends category with over 60 posts for ideas) and went to a GLAD Sandwich masterclass this week for some ideas. I don't have trouble getting my frills to eat their lunches but it does seem to be a common problem for a lot of people - I'm guessing my kids are either not picky or prioritise food over playtime.. but I do have a little bit of a system I think does help.
1. Keep it varied
Even though your kid's favourite sandwich might be vegemite on white bread, it's good to mix it up. It doesn't need to be a sandwich for one. It could be sushi, or summer rolls, mini quiches, macaroni slice or even some savoury rice, boiled eggs - try this once a week... variety keeps the whole lunchbox opening a surprise and a little bit of anticipation 'what have I got today?!' happening.
2. Keep it simple
You don't need to spend 2 hours assembling lunchboxes. Kids don't need 24 different varieties of things just in case they don't feel like something. I keep it to 4 things in the lunchbox.
1 main thing (like the sandwich, sushi, quiche etc.) to have at lunch
3 small things (to give them a choice of when to have it - 2 for recess, one for lunch is what I encourage my girls to do)
Some examples of small things:
- - dried mixed fruit bags - like sultanas, raisins, dried apples, apricot balls, banana chips
- - yoghurt (I usually give plain yoghurt and dress it up with a dash of vanilla or stir through a blob of jam)
- - boiled egg
- - baked goodies (muffins, slices, muesli bars)
- - Piece of fruit or some loose small fruits like grapes, blueberries, cut up strawberries, some cherry tomatoes
- - crackers & diced cheese
- - Popcorn (this way it's ready in 3 minutes - don't by the microwave popcorn!)
- - some veges to dip, I find my kids will eat more carrot sticks if I give them something to dip it into (tzatziki is Olivia's favourite and hoummus is Laura and Eloise's!)
3. Stash, stash stash - get organised!
Bake and stash muffins, slices, muesli bars. I am having a big bake up this week and will make 5 varieties and put them in my deep freeze in week lots. 3 of each thing in a zip lock bag = 15 things. I take this out of the freezer on a Sunday night and we pop it in the lunchbox from the bag each day. Easy.
You can also make up the mini-zip lock bags with dried fruit as above in lots - don't buy boxes of sultanas/dried fruit, as I learned - a big waster of money when you can make loads of bags with variety. I do the mini-bags with rice crackers, water crackers, popcorn or just plain cheerios. I put them all in a big storage container already made up in my pantry... then you can just pull them out when needed, great for emergency car snacks too.
For the fridge you can cut up cubes of cheese, put carrot/celery sticks in them and keep them in the crisper ready to go.
4. Get a decent lunchbox and drink bottle
Make sure they will last AND that your kids can actually open them. If your child is prone to losing things, don't buy expensive ones. I like compartmentalised lunchboxes - these ones are a bit on the larger side but they fit everything and we've been using them for 2 years and I've only had to replace one. I have had to buy some more of the inner compartment - due to being lost but love them, they're liquid type.
For the drink bottle, do not recommend a spout that can be chewed. You're asking for leaking drink bottles on homework, artwork, lunch and your car. Learn from my heartaches.. please!
Something with a screwtop lid is your best bet - easy to wash too
5. Get your kids involved!
And by this, I don't mean ask them what they want. At 5 they can learn to butter bread, by 7 they should be able to make a sandwich, even little ones at preschool can help get all the stashed stuff together and put it in their lunchbox. Get your kids to help in the baking, choosing the crackers. They are much more likely to eat something they associate fun or something of their choosing with.
Anything you'd like to add? What's your experience with lunchboxes? Do they come home full or empty?