Stress-free school lunchesHome » Latest issue » Good, issue 17 » Stress-free school lunches
As each school morning rolls around we’re faced with the same dilemma – what to put in the kids’ lunch boxes
A litterless lunch means once lunch is eaten, the only things left are compostable items, such as banana peels or apple cores, and storage containers that can be washed and reused. Here are 15 ideas for smart, healthy and litterless lunchboxes:
- Kick-start the year by stocking up on small lidded containers and quality drink bottles. Stainless steel containers are better than plastic if you’re concerned about risk from chemicals such as bisphenol A and phthalates.
- Buy or make your own reusable sandwich wraps. Click here for step by step instructions on how to make your own washable cloth wraps.
- Reuse small peanut butter, jam and honey jars to transport yummy homemade dips and vege sticks including cucumber, baby corn, cherry tomatoes, and zucchini.
- Sushi is an excellent way of getting filling carbs (rice), veges (cucumber or carrot slices) egg, avocado and other such goodies into your children. Make sushi rolls and wrap them in cling film. Kept airtight they’ll keep in the fridge overnight, then slice them. Adding a little vinegar to the rice decreases its pH and helps inhibit potentially harmful micro-organisms.
- Make the most of late summer apples by borrowing a friend’s dehydrator. Go crazy making your own tasty apple chews.
- Free-range boiled eggs and fairtrade bananas are good in so many ways; healthy, filling and already wrapped!
- Bake and freeze double lots of fruit or savoury muffins using re-usable individual silicone muffin cases.
- Make sandwiches more appealing by cutting them into fun shapes. Use or a bread knife to remove crusts and slice into delicate club sandwiches or roll up a slice of cheese and a pickle and secure with a toothpick.
- Create burritos by wrapping a flour tortilla around leftovers, grated cheese, and salad for a healthy sandwich alternative that can travel well in a lunch box.
- Buy big tubs of yoghurt, or make your own, and freeze in small containers for lunches. This will also help to keep other items cool. Include a wooden spoon or reusable utensils and a small damp cloth in the young children’s lunchboxes so they can wipe any spills.
- Always pack a water bottle. Soft drink or fruit juice can be high in sugar and often contains the preservative sodium benzoate, which can promote unfocused behaviour.
- Pop dinner leftovers into small containers for a sandwich alternative; pizza, macaroni and cheese, lasagne and spaghetti are surprisingly yummy even when cold.
- Involving your children in making their own food means they’ll be more likely to enjoy eating it – and less inclined to bin it without a moment’s thought to the effort that went into its preparation. Line up the bread and a choice of fillings and have your older kids put together their own sandwich combos. Satisfy hungry teens with long bread rolls filled with shredded lettuce, grated carrot and cheese and tasty leftovers from the night before.
- Fill small containers with pasta salads made with silly pasta shapes.
- Encourage your children to bring home any uneaten food so any peelings can be composted and you can see what they’re not eating.
For more ideas and information, check out The Good Green Lunchbox: Tasty, Healthy Lunches and Picnics, New Holland 2010, $20, and Healthy Family, Happy Family by Karen Fisher, Exisle 2010, $40.