Monday 30th August
What a great last weekend before the kids go back to school. Long may it last. One thing that loads of parents ask me about is school lunches! It seems that the sunshine this morning might have been clouded with discussions on what is wanted and not wanted in that lunch box. I found this great thorough report the other day and thought it might help.
I know this is used for kids lunches but I think anyone taking lunch into work would love it. Remember, healthy eating is all about variety - eating different fruits and vegetables, meats and fish and grains every day - experiment! Remember to always go for the low sugar or no sugar option!
School Lunches – The definitive guide from www.gimmetherecipe.com
1) Find out what your child likes (ask them, make suggestions and ask what their friends have that they would like to try)
2) Keep varying the lunches
3) Use your freezer to stock up on standby items like bagels, wraps, pitas etc. and stock your store cupboard with long life sandwich items such as tuna, sweetcorn etc..
4) Try to home-bake once in a while and freeze muffins, scones etc in usable sized batches
5) Try to get the child to make their own lunch maybe once a week
What features in the lunch box is entirely up to you and I have broken down suggested inclusions into tables below in the following areas:
1) The main event: A filled pitta, wrap, sandwich, roll, ciabatta, bagel etc. or pasta, rice etc. as below.
2) Fruit and / or vegetable: Whole, in pieces or as a salad
3) Filler: Extra dairy or carb portion
Make up your own main event by choosing a protein filling, at least one ‘Plus 1’ and then dressing it up from the table below. Alternatively select a tried and tested filling combo from the table below.
Depending on how long the school day is you may want to include an extra main or filler. (For recommendations on what is recommended for a healthy lunch see Safe food's website)
Wrapping Things Up
Using a number of really small reusable containers that will just fit a sandwich or the fruit works better than using one large lunch box where there is a strong likelihood that the crackers will end up mushed into the side of the apple and the contents of the sandwich will decorate the entire box. Small plastic sandwich bags can be handy and are reusable if you give them a wipe out or a more environmentally friendly option ‘The Paper Lunch Bag’ (by Walsh Packaging, Roscrea) made with greaseproof paper can be reused and recycled. As with all food the first impact will be visual so try to make the food look as attractive as possible.
The main event: A filled pitta, wrap, sandwich, roll, ciabatta, bagel etc. or pasta, rice etc. as below
(try to steer towards wholegrain varieties if possible)
|Pitta||Wrap||Sandwich||Roll||CiabattaPanini||Bagel||Pasta||Rice||Other Grain||Quiche or Savoury Pie||Other (3rd table)|
Filling for the pitta/wrap/sandwich/roll/ciabatta/panini/bagel etc.
(Make up your own filling by choosing from the following or go with a tried and tested combo from the table below this one)
|Protein||cooked ham, chicken, chicken tikka, cajun chicken, beef, corned beef, turkey, sausage, rashers of bacon, salami, chorizo, tuna, sliced cheese, grated cheese, (vary type of cheese e.g. cheddar, mozzarella, goats, feta etc), soft cheese, egg sliced or mashed, salmon, hummus|
|Plus 1||Lettuce, avocado, tomato, sundried tomatoes, onion, pickle, cucumber, beetroot, sweetcorn, watercress, bean sprouts, spring onion, sliced olives, ratatouille (roasted aubergine, courgette, red onion , tomato, peppers), coleslaw, potato salad|
|Dress it Up||butter, olive oil spread, mustard, mayonnaise, salad cream, relish, chutney, natural yoghurt, soured cream, fresh or dried herbs, chilli flakes, basil or coriander pesto, sundried tomato pesto, salsa, tapenade, hummus, guacamole, bread stuffing (breadcrumbs, butter, parsley, thyme, onion)|
|Lazy Day!||Peanut butter, jam, nutella|
Tried & Tested combos for pitta/wrap/sandwich/roll/ciabatta/panini/bagel etc.
|BLT: bacon, lettuce, tomatoPloughmans: cheddar cheese & pickleegg, salad cream, water cress & diced onion
tuna, sweetcorn & mayo
feta, rocket, chopped sundried tomato, red onion & ballymaloe relish
crispy bacon, tomato, cream cheese, guacamole
grilled chicken, sweet peppers, rocket parmesan & caeser dressing
chicken & stuffing
Pasta, Rice & other alternatives
(Instead of throwing away leftovers, re-use them for lunches the next day)
|Pasta||Either plain with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking together or with a light coating of a tomato puree sauce.
Increase nutritional value by adding any protein or plus 1 from the list above.
Pasta with peas, parsley, chives, zest & juice lemon, olive oil.
|Rice||curried rice with raisins, rice with a mix of ratatouille (roasted aubergine, courgette, red onion , tomato, peppers) etc.|
|Grains e.g. Couscous / Quinoa / Bulghar Wheat /||Made up with with juice of half a lemon or lime or vegetable or chicken stock
Add in chopped and roasted veg e.g. courgettes, peppers, halved cherry tomatoes
Increase nutritional value by crumbling in some cheese e.g. feta or adding some spicy chopped chicken or chickpeas
|Quiche||Classic quiche Lorraine of ham & cheese or filled with mushrooms, bacon, leeks, onions, peppers, sundried tomatoes, regular tomatoes etc.|
|Savoury Pie||With similar filing to quiche perhaps on a puff pastry base e.g. left over stilton tart or sundried tomato and goats cheese or caramelized onions and feta|
|Other||Sausage roll, samosas, cornish pastie, soup|
|Whole||Apple, orange, mandarin, satsuma, banana, peach, pear, plum, grapes etc.|
|Half||Kiwi & provide teaspoon|
|Slice||Melon, Watermelon, Pineapple, any of the above|
|Berries||Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries|
|Chunks||Create a fruit salad with any of the above cut into chunks & provide a fork. To preserve cut fruits such as apple and banana from browning, squeeze over the juice of a lemon and an orange.|
|Puree||Stewed apple, pears, plums, berries, rhubarb & provide a spoon.|
|Smoothies||Combine fruit, natural yogurt and orange juice (unsweetened)|
|Dried||Raisins, Sultanas, Dates|
Vegetable / Pulse
|Sticks||Carrot , Cucumber, Peppers, Celery & perhaps provide a dip|
|Mixed||Salad bowl containing any of: lettuce, avocado, tomato, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, onion, pickle, cucumber, beetroot, sweetcorn, watercress, bean sprouts, spring onion, sliced olives, ratatouille (roasted aubergine, courgette, red onion , tomato, peppers), coleslaw, potato salad, chickpea salad, three bean salad (kidney beans…..),|
|Berries||Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries|
|Chunks||Create a fruit salad with any of the above cut into chunks & provide a fork|
|Puree||Stewed apple, pears, plums, berries, rhubarb & provide a spoon|
|Dip||Raita (sp); natural yoghurt, mint & cucumber, soured cream, tomato ketchup & mayo mixed, sweet chilli dip, hummus, pesto, guacamole|
|Soup||Hot soup in a thermos flask|
|Yoghurt etc. & other||Plain (who eats plain?) with your own fruit pieces or puree added Fruit corners
Custard – plain or with fruit puree added e.g. stewed apple / rhubarb
|Scone||Wholemeal, plain, fruit or cheesy. Add butter & jam, lemon curd, cheese spread, pesto, tapenade|
|Cheese||Sliced cheddar, triangle of soft cheese|
|Crackers / dried bread||Cream crackers plain or with butter, jam, soft cheese, cheese slice, pesto, tapenadeKrisp breadRyvita|
|Soft bread / cakes||Banana bread, brioche, mini pancakes, sundried tomato bread, cheese bread, olive bread, waffles. Add butter & jam, lemon curd, cheese spread, pesto, tapenade|
|Muffins / Cupcakes||Plain or fruit|
|Cake||Dried fruit cake, apple cake, rice cake|
|Crisps||Pitta crisps & dip, pack of croutons|
|Biscuits/Bars||Flapjacks, Lunchbox oatmeal cookies (as per picture above), Shortbread, Plain cookie|
|Other||Sesame sticks, bread sticks|
|Lazy Day!||shop bought cereal bar / energy bar (if they are not allowed, take off the wrapper and wrap it in parchment paper)|