As a mum who studies and works, life can be very hectic first thing in the morning. Well, it can be hectic all day, let’s be honest. No matter how often I try, I can never manage to make my lunches the night before. I know that like me, many parents have experienced the strong pressure to feed their child a certain way, with a myriad of products being launched in that space.
Success with school lunch boxes is less about writing surprise post-it notes and designing intricate food arrangements in the shape of a swan. Rather, it is consistently providing nourishing foods to your child, in a way that is sustainable and enjoyable.
What we feed ourselves and those we care for is to support our daily functions, not what is perceived to be the ideal in food or to create an image of how we or the lunchboxes need to look. The word diet has been corrupted over many years to mean restriction of a sort, rather than the food and activities undertaken daily. Caution around the use of language when describing the benefits of parti
cular foods is encouraged
I would like to share with you a few tips that my good friends Practice and Experience, have taught me over time:
1. Minimize chopping! Small veggies like cherry tomatoes, mini cucumbers, baby carrots, snow peas, baby capsicum, green beans and sugar snaps require zero chopping! They can go straight into the lunchbox after a quick wash. Win.
One of my favourite aspects about buying the mini-veggies, it is easily held by small hands, and food waste is limited. Sometimes we cut up a vegetable, put it in a container in the fridge and forget where in the Tetris-aligned shelves it is located, especially if other hands have been in there, which is invariably the case.
2. Use reusable containers and beeswax wraps. They tend to be sturdier than simple cling wrap or foil, and keep the food protected from bumps as the child manoeuvres their bags around.
Beeswax wraps in particular are environmentally friendly, can be reused a number of times and have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Because it locks in moisture without letting water build up, food is able to breathe naturally unlike in plastic wrap where it cannot. Bees Wax Wraps can bee found in many delis and grocers in the Capital.
3. Find the right time. Items such as peanuts, nuts, eggs and fish are not always allowed at school. However, these are highly nutritious foods that, if your child tolerates well, should be included in other meals such as breakfast, after school snack or dinner.
4. Keep the food fresh. To avoid food coming back untouched in the lunchbox, they need to be appealing. I don’t mean they need to be in the shape of a unicorn, they just need to be tasty and fresh. Since refrigeration for food at school is, well, non-existent, a good old trick is to freeze juice boxes or yoghurt containers to double as ice blocks.
Food needs to be enjoyed. Lunchboxes for children, and adults, need to have balance of the foods loved to eat which nourish our bodies, and our souls. Instagram and Pintrest are wonderful place to get ideas for lunchboxes, however the reality of always preparing works of food art, can be demoralising if the ultra-healthy, super-green food prepared isn’t being eaten… contributing to food waste.
Good luck with your lunchbox endeavours as school returns. Remember, keep the lunchbox simple, include a few of their favourite things, and they don’t need to be the next hottest post on Pintrest.