Ah, the long days of summer holidays are at a close and we are all jumping back into our routines. Some of these we do with more relish than others!
Lunchboxes for me are 'a labour of love'. I labelled them this many years ago and it’s a phrase that runs through my head at least once a morning as I stand at the kitchen bench at 7.00am surrounded by boxes to fill. And I mean it when I say it to myself. Providing a delicious, nutritious lunch for my boys is a simple way to show my love. I picture their smiles when they discover something in the box that they especially like.
So how do we get ourselves ready once more …?
1. Family conference – taking time to ask the kids what are their favourite lunchbox fillers, explaining what your parameters are for a lunchbox and agreeing on foods that tick everyone’s boxes then shopping for them.
2. The box – having the “right” box makes everything simpler. Finding a container that suits your style of food and packing can really make a difference. Look for a box that comfortably fits everything you need to send and is going to be leak free.
If you do need a new lunch-box it’s the perfect opportunity to get the kids involved.
3. Storage – I am a huge fan of being prepared and to do that it helps to have enough storage space to keep all your ingredients fresh. Like-wise being able to pre-make in bulk and have space in the fridge or freezer is the fresh food equivalent of packaged food. Being able to cook a big batch of chicken nuggets or mini frittata and freeze makes for a stress free week.
4. Allocate time – when is the best time for you to pack? If you prefer to do things in the evening so mornings are less stressful then many things can be done the night before. Frozen delights taken from the freezer the night before will defrost nicely in the fridge overnight ready for the morning. If you’re a night owl then pack most things in the evening and add more delicate ingredients like lettuce in the morning.
5. Who can help – kids, partners, whanau. My husband and I split the responsibility for lunches (well he does a little bit!) so he gets certain things done the night before and I do the rest in the morning with the boys. Kids that are involved are more excited about eating.
6. Plan – knowing what you’re putting in lunchboxes in advance can alleviate a lot of stress. Having enough fruit, fillings and snacks ready for the week makes for an easy pack even if you’re short on time. This is another great way to get the kids involved. Sometimes knowing what is going to be in the box is very comforting.
7. Test drive – if you are planning new foods for this year then serving them at home in a low pressure environment can be a great way to build comfort around a change.
8. Inspiration – I know one of the things that often derails us is lack of ideas. We are going along fine and then suddenly run out of inspiration. Fortunately, there are plenty of ideas on the web for when we’re stuck. Delve a little deeper into the Healthy Food Guide for one ..
Ready, set, pack ….
Judith Yeabsley is a mum of two boys who is passionate about healthy food for kids. She runs a food art website, theartofnutrition.com, focusing on presenting fruit and veges creatively. She also works to change the food environment in schools, community groups and lunchboxes. For information on this and great recipes, see theartofnutrition.co.nz.