Try it – Don’t Deny it

Lovely, colourful lunchbox containers

Lunch box containers - bright, colourful, fresh and fun

We started our blogs to help busy parents to Love their lunchboxes rather than despise them! We aimed to help those bleary eyed mums and dads searching desperately for inspiration at 7.am while staring at an empty shelf. That pretty well described me too! I was getting complaints about my production line as well.  No more sandwiches said my kids!

I began to long for a day without packed lunches until I reminded  myself how much I enjoyed opening my brown greaseproof paper parcel sitting on the grass at lunchtime at Springdale School in New Zealand all those years ago. I remember absolutely relishing mum’s egg, bacon and lettuce sandwich and the cold clear water from the fountains.   There was always a granny smith or two lurking about in my leather satchel or  some grapes from the vine on the shed. Often as not there was an unexpected extra creature also sharing my bunch of grapes. Luckily the practice of force feeding kids warm school milk had stopped by the time I was 9 or so – urggh!

So many parents we’ve talked to complain of not knowing what to put in those boxes day after day, year after year so we felt we had to supply a few simple alternatives to the soggy cheese and ham sandwich. We had such a great reaction to our recipes, tips and ideas that we also began to share our favourite everyday recipes and ideas.

It really has been a slice……

Since starting the Food Forum we  have given workshops, demos and written incessantly about what treasures our snacks and lunches could/should be and how a few basic things can help us all immensely. Our best advice thus far –  have a good store cupboard. I have just been down to my local organic store and brought packets of dried mango, dried apples, apricots, some coconut cubes, cranberries and bananas. These can be used when fresh is not available and some little darling has eaten the last braeburn apple.

Tricks of the lunchbox trade…

You all know all my tricks by now – make ANZAC cookies and store away from prying hands. Use your browning bananas for banana bread, make morning glory muffins and try and keep them safe for tomorrows lunch. Slow roast less than prefect tomatoes for pasta sauces the next day or as a basis for mexican or italian food

Use yesterdays scones for todays snack boxes. Make a dried fruit salad and thread on a stick. Boil hens or quails eggs and slice. Have dried wholewheat pasta and a good can of tomatoes for a quick pasta lunch, or make some pesto and freeze it for an emergency sauce. Stir fry some veggies, tofu and rice for a quick lunch. It’s really not that difficult but it does require some time,  planning and a good store cupboard.

Containers – every good lunch deserves the best…

What every good lunch does need however is a good collection of containers. We have just purchased a new small thermos from Amazon and it really does keep our dishes hot for a good 6 hours. And we have a new sandwich wrapper which fastens with velcroe and is washable. We are fond of the Bento Box style of lunch particularly for fussy eaters – small treasures to be discovered in little containers and we like the Rice containers.

The Food Forum began in reaction to being asked to buy Kit Kats and Crisps for our children to take to an end of year class party.  We were used to  actually cooking festive food for parties and wondered if cooking may be becoming a thing of the past and only processed foods were held to be special foods. We really hoped NOT and wanted to provide practical advice on healthy eating and recipes.

A wonderful human pleasure – to share a meal and chat about the world around you

We hoped we could inspire kids and parents to learn to cook, to try new things and to enjoy one of the most human of pleasures – sharing a meal and enjoying social interaction while doing so. Last week we had an Eat a Rainbow workshop for year 2 at The British School. And we tried to bring some new and different foods for the kids to try. Guess what was popular – the wonderful weird and delicious Koolrabi. This kids took to it like a horse to water. Peel it, remove the Ood like tentacles and eat it as is, where is. A bit like a sweeter turnip and lovely raw. We tried to tell as many kids as possible something we repeat constantly to ours TRY IT BEFORE YOU DENY IT!!!!

Are you in a food rut?

This goes for us all. Your kids look to see what you are eating – are you trying something new or are you stuck in a food rut? Just about every recipe you may ever want to cook is a mere google away. Go on, be brave, go a little wild, buy a new cookbook even!

Frozen peeled soya beans - boil quickly for salads and snacks!

New food to try this week?  How about soya beans?  – buy frozen from your nearest Asian foods store (Amazing Oriental in The Hague). Simply simmer for a minute or so in their pods, drain, sprinkle on some sea salt to serve!  Or peel and add to salads after cooking for a few minutes to retain some crunchiness.

Rainbow Coleslaw

Or make a fresh coleslaw with a  finely chopped sweet cabbage, shredded carrots, chopped apples in lime or lemon juice, some sunflower and sesame seeds. For a simple dressing – mix a little rice vinegar, some palm sugar, a mild oil and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tacos and refried beans, sour cream and grated cheese – see previous blogs for recipe

My kids often say they don’t eat onion. I often reply that’s pretty odd because I put it in just about every dish I make.  Just goes to show…..kids will try more than you think. Be persistent! They will come around in the end or else get very, very hungry!

Off to Make a Rainbow

The Munch Crunch Fruit Boat

Munch Crunch for Lunch

I am off to make a Rainbow for Year 2 at the British School. With the help of parents, teachers and the year 2 Master Chefs we will create a Fresh Fruit Salad fit for Queens and Kings! Teach your kids to cook. So, knives can be dangerous, kitchens can be dangerous but some simple rules will help. Tell your child to make a hand like a claw when chopping with a middle sized sharp knife. The top small end of the knife should stay on the board. The item to be chopped should be firmly held and sensibly placed to minimize problems. Sensible shoes should be worn in case of falling sharp or hot objects. An adult should be handy. Cooking is creative, inventive, dextrous and delicious. We will learn today that we should eat a variety of foods of all colours. We shall smell spices and maybe try something new. There is a whole world of food to be discovered. My tip of the week – see Heidi Swansons new book (due to be released any second) at http://www.101cookbooks.com. She will inspire you, of that there is no doubt. Enjoy!

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