My children go back to school on Monday. Much of my focus this week has been on baking and getting together lots of easy lunchbox ideas.
While my children are generally happy to eat the same foods every day I like to ensure they have lots of variety. I grew up with vegemite sandwiches (and chips for recess) every day. I can't say I ever remember taking any vegetables to school. School standards have improved since then, the boys' previous school was very strict, and their current school is pretty good at promoting healthy eating. I am not sure that back then parents really considered the long-term health impacts or the daily consequences of not eating well. For our children's energy levels, for their ability to regulate blood sugar levels, to be able to concentrate - food and a well-packed lunchbox (and snack box) are just so important.
So while our favourite and lunchbox go-to's will remain, I've decided that baking and freezing will ensure we always have nutritious food ready to go and will make the whole lunch box packing a lot more relaxed. As a side note, I don't want to rely on the baked goods every day, but they will be perfect for when the boys are making lunches late or if we are low on groceries.
This week we baked and froze; Banana and Oat Cookies (pictured above), Carrot Muffins, Banana Muffins, Mini Quiche with Bacon, Mini Quiche with Chicken, Mini Corn and Zucchini Fritters, and Carrot and Zucchini Slice. I've chosen to bake things in the mini size as it's easier to fit them into the lunchboxes and easier for Otis (5yrs) to eat.
This week has also been my first attempt to freeze food in glass containers. In the past I would have wrapped everything individually with plastic wrap which now, I just can't bring myself to do. We have used Glasslock containers (Australia) which we also have in the pantry and refrigerator. They have been fantastic! The glass is completely non-toxic and is recyclable; there is nothing leaching into our food. It's been so easy to get the frozen food out one or two at a time. I can recommend this article at Biome about the benefits of freezing in glass. I have also stocked up on all of our pantry items and will make a quick trip to the market and local stores on Sunday for our fresh food items.
This week I also have trialled some new lunch box ideas including Pesto (spinach and/or basil) Pasta. My boys love this green mac and cheese, but it takes a while to cook. As nuts aren't allowed at school, I've made pesto with pepitas replacing the nuts - which works! And we simply toss pesto through the cooked pasta and top with some extra parmesan cheese. But I could also make and freeze the green mac and cheese! I also made the boys niçoise salad for the first time - yum! My boys also like chicken, so I've been testing some good chicken marinades. This is our favourite chicken marinade (it is so, so good!). We cook the chicken and slice it for the lunch boxes or add to a salad.
Today the boys had haircuts and packed their school bags; now they are ready for Monday!
Do your kids make their own school lunches? You might enjoy my previous article Making school lunches - why it's important they do it themselves and I have recently written about our Back to School Supplies. You can also read My Go-To Child Friendly Recipes for Snack and Lunch Boxes.
I hope you have a happy and safe weekend!