Back to School Series: Lunchbox Ideas

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Back to School Series: Lunchbox Ideas

Warning: long blog post. I’m talking about food glorious food…of course it’s wordy.

School lunches are the bane of many a parents life. I try and stay in the habit of having a freezer stocked with biscuit dough and frozen sandwiches. I make big batches of finger sandwiches on the weekends; freeze them then pull them out as needed. I like doing Natalie’s corned beef and caramelised onion toasties but I also just do fingers sandwiches of vegemite, cheese and ham and cream cheese and egg; these being three separate fillings…not altogether because that would be revolting obviously.

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The freezer thing makes the whole process a tad more bearable, as there are always things ready to be thrown into lunchboxes with fruit, dairy and protein, but I still don’t enjoy the process. To keep it interesting for me I’ve been experimenting with some lunchbox friendly ideas over the holidays from some of my favourite cookbooks and blogs. I’m not a nutritionist in any way, shape or form…these are just ideas! I’ve also gone back to the trusty ‘Lunch‘ poster which I did two years ago – gosh I was keen when PudStar started Prep and wow it’s amazing what I find on my own blog!

To add these books to your home, school or library collection click on title or image links.

I’ve made many batches of Bliss Balls (p. 102) from one of my favourite cookbooks of 2014, ‘My Darling Lemon Thyme’, full review here. Everything is pretty much refined sugar free and gluten free in this cookbook and I’ve read it from cover to cover like a novel. Bliss Balls are packed with dates and other dried fruits so they are still a ‘treat’ food – sticky dried fruit is not fabulous for teeth (says the mother of a child with cavities ATM- hangs head in shame).

My Darling Lemon Thyme

Also from ‘My Darling Lemon Thyme’ I’ve made Tahini, Orange and Coconut Toasted Muesli as a kind of trail mix (p. 36), Carrot, Apple and Ginger Muffins (p. 98), Chewy Cranberry, Millet and Pistachio Bars – I’ll do some seed mix thing in place of pistachios for nut free school lunches (p. 104), Spiced Pumpkin, Date and Quinoa Muffins (p. 114), Chocolate, Buckwheat and Pear Loaf (p. 120), Chocolate Coconut Bites – kind of a healthy Bounty Bar (p. 122), Chickpea Crackers (p.66), Sweetcorn Fritters (p. 62), Eggy Baked Tortilla Cups (p. 52) and Orange Cinnamon Chia Puddings served in little containers with some yoghurt on top for lunchboxes (p. 54). I’m yet to find something I’ve not enjoyed from this cookbook – and I’m not generally a whole foods kind of gal. Emma Galloway is just sensible with her food.

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I also love Jude Blereau’s ‘Wholefood for Children’ as again, it’s just sensible eating – nutrient dense and real, but not overly complicated. I’m a massive cupcake eater (see cavity issue above) and her pretty darned healthy cupcakes are good…seriously good! The ones below I’ve made with her recipe – I think I added rosewater to the mix and yes that is cream cheese icing…which is soooo not wholefoods. AND THESE WERE NOT FOR LUNCHBOX FOOD!

wholefood-for-childrenRose Cupcakes

Despite having just suggested a stack of super healthy ideas – I’m not adverse to a home cooked biscuit with sugar or a sugar substitute such as coconut sugar from my all-time favourite biscuit cookbook ‘Beautiful Biscuits’ (as I said, not a nutritionist and have a child with cavities…have I mentioned that?). Much like the ‘WW Birthday Cake Book’ which I rave on and on about here, the biscuit book is a must-have household book!

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I also really love looking through baby/toddler/child cookbooks as they often have super portable food for lunchboxes. I have the following titles at home or in my school library and really love each and every one of the.

Stephanie Alexander – well you can’t go wrong can you? And I have a kitchen garden at school which I adore so this book is much used both at school and at home. I’ve returned it to my school library on a number of occasions covered in tomato – ‘gosh which dreadful child  had our library book in their kitchen?’

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‘My Grandma’s Kitchen’ by Louise Fulton – it’s a Fulton family cookbook so it has to be good. And it IS. So good. The vanilla cupcakes with passionfruit icing are fabulous. This is probably PudStar’s favourite cookbook. It’s a cross between a picture book and a recipe book – so clearly I was always going to love this book.

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I know?! Lisa McCune wrote a cookbook! Blew my mind too. It’s darn good actually – a friend gave me this book and I’ve used it extensively.

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And now for blogs I gain lunchbox/family friendly cooking ideas from:

Tea for Six. I’ve known Natalie since I was a child and she and, growing up, she and I used to spend so.many.hours in the kitchen at her place or my place. We cooked up storms and quite possibly left the mess for our parents to clean up. She and I cook in a very similar way. For lunches I love her corned beef toasties as mentioned above, as well has her Raspberry Yoghurt Cake which I often do as muffins. It’s become quite a joke in our family this cake; ‘what cake should I bring to {insert family event}…Natalie’s Raspberry Yoghurt cake?’. We ALL make this cake for EVERY occasion…and never tire of it.

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Image Credit: Tea for Six

Too Cold for Llama’s by Ang. When I grow up I am going to BE Ang. I adore this woman so much and though she now lives in Tasmania, I text, Facebook and email her all the time. She’s one of the most natural cooks and writers that I know and she has about 20 cookbooks inside of her – if only she’d hurry up and write them. When Anita, Michelle and I visited Ang in Tasmania a while back, many happy hours  were spent reading her extensive cookbook collection and planning food glorious food. She’s just started a blog (finally, FINALLY) and I’ve made everything on it – including these Bap Rolls which PudStar declared her favourite breadrolls. PudStar has ‘Ang’s Tawny Granola’ for breakfast most mornings…soooo good.

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Image Credit: Too Cold for Llama’s

Lisa Corduff in the Kitchen by Lisa Corduff. Lisa is someone I aspire to be – she’s gradually been replacing processed food with whole foods in her family diet since the birth of her first child. She now has three young children and runs a really successful ‘Small Steps to Whole Foods’ program which I am totally going to do one day very soon when I have some spare time. I’m never going to be a total wholefood convert as I like cake, Jamie Olive and Nigella Lawson far too much – but I know I could replace some things in my diet with better options. Lisa is real, she’s hilarious and I love watching her short videos on Facebook – they are so REAL and they make me laugh and laugh. Her Facebook community is great and she shares some awesome lunchbox and family meal ideas there.

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Image Credit: Lisa Corduff in the Kitchen

Finally, Katie 180 is a recent find. I met her at Problogger when I sat in a circle of bloggers on a tennis court at the QT Hotel to eat my lunch (which included three desserts I’d chosen from the dessert table). Someone mentioned she was a nutritionist and I spied those ARMS (oh Dear Glory those ARM MUSCLES) and I kind of hid my food. I then started following her on social media and breathed a huge sigh of relief. She is a real, swearing, cake-eating, baby wearing nutritionist who is very cool and hilarious on Instagram. I have made her Gingerbread Cookies many times since Christmas and these will be a lunchbox staple I think (language alert BIG TIME on this post – sheesh I am SUCH a librarian nerd), as will her Malted Barley Oatmeal Cookies. Just so you know Katie…I have issues with ‘cookies’ (ask Eden Riley)…I prefer to call them biscuits – but I shall not hold this against you.

katie180Image Credit: Katie 180

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Ugh.
    I have been SO spoiled and haven’t had to deal with lunches yet.
    This will be my first year as a lunch making mother and I must admit I am dreading it.
    Remind me to pick your brain about converting some of those recipes to TM friendly recipes.

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