I’ve been chatting to the odd mum and dad over the holidays, who say they get a sinking feeling about making school lunches. They do their best (at some hideous hour in the morning) to put together a snack and lunch only to find a returned soggy sandwich in the lunchbox at the end of the day. Or their lovely little creatures might just say “I wanted the ….. and you gave me the …..! Or I didn’t have time to eat it…..
Shame on you, you dreadful parent. It’s your fault they didn’t eat their lunch. NOT! I am willing to bet you are giving your utmost especially at that time in the morning and our darlings should appreciate you big time. I do. Give yourself a gentle pat on the back and make them part of the solution. It took me a while to realize that some my creations (shock, horror) were perhaps not quite as delightful as I thought they were according to my greatest critics – my kids. So, I made an extra one or two wraps, bagels, pasta salads, etc and tried them out myself. Those kids were right, the wrap was a tad soggy, the bagel filling was a little tasteless, the peach had started to go bad. So I ate a bit of humble pie, which leads us right into this post and the joy of continuous learning. Hopefully my upcoming recipes and tips will stop you falling into a quagmire (don’t you just love that word) of bad baps, sogginess, muddy flavours and lifeless lunchboxes.
Tip no. 1 – if they don’t eat your lunches, suggest they may just like to get up earlier and make them. They will probably decide suddenly that you are the best lunch maker in town.
Tip no. 2 – Ask them what they want ( within reason and excluding chocolate, processed cookies, juice drinks (or worse!), crisps etc). By the way I am not ruling out homemade cookies using an alternative to sugar but I am suggesting that crisps, pop-tarts, iced biscuits and so-called juice drinks are not very helpful to your child’s nutritional needs.
Remind them that food is their fuel and it’s meant to keep their minds ticking over, the bodies in full throttle and they energy levels at an even balance. They need a good balance of different foods, particularly those of a low GL or Glycemic Load (spreading the energy load for longer). They need some protein, some good carbs, good fats and fibre-rich vegetables and fruits. Water is just great by the way and we need a good amount of it all through the day (imagine how much you will save money not buying juices and just by filling their water bottle).
Tip no. 3 – Test out a smidgen of your child’s lunch ( have a portion for lunch or afternoon tea) and see what it’s are like after a few hours in a warm environment. You may want to consider buying a gel salad container, or a better thermos or some small freezer pads. Check the internet for the best types of containers.
Tip no. 4 – Make you child part of the equation, yes, and share the knowledge. Food is expensive, good honest, organic food is even more expensive. The crop failure this season and last season will see a sharp increase in food prices around the world. Make your child understand that their lunch is a special treat to be valued. It has been made with a few yawns and much love. I will be looking at creating some fine, frugal dishes this school year to share with you all.
Tip no. 5 – Make it as colourful, and as beautiful as can be. Celebrate that lunch, and thank yourself for making it. It should be a treasure trove of good, delicious food. OK, I know we are not talking haute cuisine here (see pic below of a salad made by my current favourite restaurant De Kas in Amsterdam for an example of fine, honest, arty food) but by using the best containers and the right foods, your school lunch be something akin to a prefect picnic for body and mind. By the way, Isn’t it just beautiful that salad – and it tasted just as good. But I digress!
This is what we have been putting in our lunch boxes this week.
Snack – greek yoghurt with fresh raspberry sauce and an oatie cereal combo!
Snack – dried mango, banana, a spelt flour pinwheel scone and butter with Eva’s homemade raspberry jam (thanks Eva)
Snack - separate small containers of blueberries, plums, watermelon chunks in a cooled thermos
Lunches – Jack requested his current favourites – toasted wholewheat bagel with smoked salmon, chives, lettuce and cream cheese or with paper thin prosciutto, with boiled egg, lettuce and sliced tomato.
Wholewheat pasta with pesto, peas and parmesan. We served all the lunches with locally grown organic apples and fresh clear water. Those lucky kids!!!
One of the food bloggers that I follow is The Botanical Baker. She does a lovely blog with gorgeous recipes at http://thebotanicalbaker.wordpress.com
This month she is supporting the UK’s Better Breakfast Week (Sept 24 – 30), a great initiative which is asking for your ideas for fruity breakfast inspiration. Me, I adore breakfast and have been heard to say on more than one occasion “that it is the best meal of the day and surely the most important”. I leave you with a pic of our home-made cereal: dehydrated raspberries, hazelnuts, almonds, apricots, oats and dried cranberries, yumo!