reachME School Lunch Makeovers
Us mums at reachME are officially fed up with having to dig moldering half-eaten sandwiches out of the dark recesses of smelly schoolbags. To help us - and you - we’ve put together a whole heap of easy ideas and suggestions to tempt our children’s taste buds and help reduce our Marmite dependence.
1. Get creative when you cut. Why don’t you roll the bread or cut it into circles, squares, or, if you really want to show off, a hexagon? Biscuit shape cutters and vegetable peelers are this season’s must have accessory.
2. Plan ahead. If you work out the next week’s lunches in advance, not only do you get to feel satisfyingly smug, you can also ensure you’ve got all the ingredients on hand.
3. Ditch the pre-packaged stuff and get cool storage containers instead. Pre-packaged foods (this includes ham) are more expensive, less nutritious and bad for the environment. Make sure you have loads of different shaped storage containers for all types of food to make lunchtime more exciting.
We recommend sticking this list to the fridge and putting a tick next to whatever gets eaten!
Makeover that Lunchbox!
No Cook Muesli Bars
This is the basic recipe – try getting creative with all sorts of nuts, seeds and dried fruits.
- Leftovers… would last night’s dinner be tasty cold – and did Junior eat it? Then save yourself the trouble and throw it into a suitable container straight away!
- No-cook muesli bars. These are packed full of goodness and so easy your toddler could make them (possibly).
- Cooked frozen corn (or corn on the cob). A simple and delicious morning tea snack.
- Fresh dates, a real sticky treat packed with goodness.
- Roasted canned chickpeas – simply drain, spread out on a baking tray, sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and salt and bake until crispy. Yum.
- Raw veggies and dips (cottage cheese, hummus, mashed avocado, peanut butter).
- Hummus stuffed cucumbers (deseed then filled with hummus and scatter with toasted black sesame seeds if you’re feeling fancy).
- Sweetcorn fritters. Make a batch up for Sunday breakfast and save a few for Monday’s lunch.
- Plain popcorn – not the microwave stuff filled with additives, salt, sugar and other grizzlies.
- Vegetable “chips” (use a potato peeler or a cheese slice to get thin strips. Carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beetroot and sweet potato are super easy - just shave some slices, spray some oil over and put them in the oven until they're crispy).
- Couscous salads. The ultimate fast food – just pour boiling water over couscous, cover and wait 3 minutes! Throw in some toasted almonds, apricots, cucumber and avocado, drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil, and remember to pack a fork.
- Simple salad of cubed cucumber, cheese and cherry tomatoes.
- Grapes. Wash, pick and pack (or throw into a couscous salad).
- Pita pockets. Why not stuff them with leftover chicken, avocado, lettuce and cranberry seeds?
- Nuts and seeds mixed with raisins. Mix up a big batch and store in an airtight container.
- Yogurt and berries. The bought stuff is usually filled with sugar and other additives. and it's cheaper (but not really easier!) to mix your own using natural yogurt, some honey and frozen berries or whatever fruit you have.
- Use avocado or hummus instead of butter as a spread.
- Sandwich ‘sushi’. Roll your child’s favourite sandwich fillings in mountain bread and cut into sushi shapes. Works brilliantly with egg and lettuce.
- Hard-boiled eggs. So nutritious, quick and easy. If the lunchbox egg smell puts them off, chop egg in half, scoop out the yolks, mix with a bit of mayo and pack in a tight container. Hardboiled eggs (cooked for over 10 minutes) will store unpeeled in the fridge for up to 7 days – so make a big batch.
- Dried apple crisps. Heat oven to 120 C. Thinly slice apples (use a mandolin if you have one) and remove seeds. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheets; sprinkle with the cinnamon. Bake the apple slices, turning every half hour, until dry, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove and transfer to racks to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Ingredients (makes 24 bars)
- 2 cups puffed rice (try to find the unsweetened brown stuff)
- 2 cups oats
- 1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped
- 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup chocolate chips (if you’re feeling kind)
Combine cereal, oats, nuts, seeds, coconut and fruit in a large mixing bowl. Heat the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla in a small saucepan until warm. Do not boil.
Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture. Mix well (hands work best) while syrup is still warm.
Pour mixture into a 20 x 30 (or thereabouts) pan. Pack the mixture down firmly with fingers (wet fingers with water to stop them sticking).
Press in the chocolate chips if using then cover with plastic wrap and cool completely.
Cut into 24 bars. Wrap individually and store in fridge.
Bars will keep fresh for up to 2 weeks.
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