Take the stress out of school-week meal-planning with these lunch-bag-friendly recipes that will keep little bellies full until the afternoon bell.
Summer’s over, school’s back on, and you’re back into the frenzy of work week/school-day meal-planning. And with everyone’s dietary requirements differing – your youngest refuses to eat any form of vegetable while you’re trying to get the whole family to cut back on sugar – finding a middle ground when it comes to satisfying picky eaters can feel overwhelming.
If you don’t fancy giving up your Sunday afternoon to an intense round of frozen meal-prep or shelling out lunch money for less-than-nutritious options at the school cafeteria, these easy-yet-flavoursome school lunch ideas may just end up being your September lifesaver.
Perfect for the picky pre-schooler, these animal-shaped sammies are a creative way to get your child excited about finishing their lunch! Also, they’re vegetarian-friendly and ready in 30 minutes or less.
• 1 wholegrain flatbread or tortilla
• Your choice of spreads, such as: peanut butter or other nut butters, sun butter, nut-free Wow Butter soy spread, reduced-fat cream cheese, 100 per cent pure fruit jelly
• Optional toppings such as: thinly sliced kiwis, grapes, strawberries or other fruits; coconut flakes, thinly- sliced almonds or other nuts; granola
• 2 small blueberries
• 1 small grape
• 2 thinly-sliced almonds (or an additional grape, for a nut-free option)
• To make each hippo, place the tortilla or flatbread on a clean work surface and carefully cut a thin, curved section off from each side of the ‘face’.
• Open the tortilla and spread it thinly with your choice of spreads. Add extra thinly-sprinkled toppings of your choice, if desired. Close the tortilla.
• To form the hippo’s curved ‘mouth’, gently press the centre of the top tortilla layer towards the middle. This will be easiest if there aren’t sprinkled toppings such as fruit or nuts right in that area of the hippo.
• For the ‘nostrils’, place a very small dab of whatever spread you’re using on each blueberry, and ‘glue’ them into place near the centre of the curved mouth.
• For the ‘eyes’, cut a grape in half, and dab each cut side with a little spread, ‘glueing’ each eye into place near the top of the hippo, as you did with the blueberry ‘nostrils’.
• Press each almond into place as ‘ears’ at the very top of the head, above the eyes. Cutting a tiny slit in the tortilla first will make this easier. Alternately, for a nut-free option, you can use a sliced grape instead of almonds, securing the grape ‘ears’ in place with a little dab of spread, if needed.
Sweet, salty, crunchy and savoury; this nut-free snack mix won’t last for long once your kids get their paws on it (or your partner too for that matter)!
• 1 cup assorted rice crackers
• 1 cup banana chips
• ½ cup shredded coconut
• ½ cup raisins
• ½ cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup whole pumpkin seeds or pepitas
• 4 cups popcorn
• Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container and serve in smaller containers for the lunchbox. Makes 8 ½ cups.
Make these zingy buffalo chicken tenders for an easy Sunday dinner and keep the leftovers to whip up these kid-friendly quick and easy wraps for school on Monday morning.
• 113g garden vegetable cream cheese, room temperature
• 113g sour cream
• 85g blue cheese, divided
• ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 tsp fresh chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish if desired
• 170g frozen breaded chicken breast strips (half of a 25-piece package)
• ¼ cup to 1/3 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce
• 3 sandwich roll-up flatbreads/tortillas
• 2 stalks of celery diced, plus extra sticks for dipping
• 6 leaves large lettuce
• In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, about 50g of the blue cheese (crumbled), pepper, salt, and parsley. Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
• Pre-heat oven to bake the chicken tenders/strips/breasts.
• Bake the chicken strips according to the package directions. While hot, place the chicken strips, two at a time, in a bowl and toss with the hot sauce. Repeat until all the chicken strips are coated. Place on the baking tray in a single layer to cool. Once cooled, toss in the hot sauce again and set aside.
• To assemble the roll-ups, spread each flatbread with a generous amount of the blue cheese dip. At one of the short ends of the flatbread, place two chicken strips then, next to the chicken, sprinkle with the diced celery, then add the lettuce. Add more crumbled blue cheese if desired. Roll up the flatbreads and cut into six to eight pieces each.
• Secure the roll-up with an appetiser pick.
• Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.