When I first started to pack school lunches, I would have a mild panic attack about what to put in the lunchboxes! Then I still had to balance that with what the kids would actually eat, and what the school allows!
Now, a few years into the lunch world, I have become quite good at it! I also get ideas from the kids. Just ask yours what the other kids get for lunch!
Here are a few handy guidelines:
- It must be easy for the kids to eat. Kids would rather play than eat!
- Make sure the kids can open the packaging. For example: peel the naartjies, and if you give fruit sticks, put them in another container, as the fruit sticks are too difficult to open.
- Buy a little ice pack for the cooler bag. It helps to keep the food cool, especially during the hotter months.
What to pack:
Two years ago, my kids would only eat butter sarmies. That was a long few months for me! Now, luckily, as they have gotten older we have expanded our sarmie base!
I usually pack a brown bread sarmie with ham and cheese. I like this combination as the kids really enjoy it, and I know they are getting protein at lunch. I also sometimes send provitas instead of bread, also with ham and cheese. To make things more exciting you can cut your sandwich into a shape.
On a Friday I will make chips rolls or a hotdog for the kids. Hooray for Friday!
I have learned over the years, that not every fruit is equal when it comes to being packed in a lunch bag!
Apples just don’t work for us, as they usually come back half eaten and brown. (The parrot gets that apple, so he is usually happy on those days.)
A banana is a hit and miss, as if it is not eaten, it can go brown after being in the bag the whole day!
My son absolutely loves mango in his lunchbox, and I usually pack him some mango and add in a serviette!
My favourite fruit to add is grapes. They are a high-energy food and really easy to eat. If the kids don’t finish them, they don’t go off in the lunch box.
- Dried fruit:
Occasionally I pack dried fruit. The sugar content is usually high, but if the kids are having a long day with extra mural activities, then it is a great snack, as it has a lot of energy, and is easy to eat. Raisins also work well as a dried fruit snack.
A very easy protein is biltong or salami sticks. Often this is what they will eat on the way home from school.
Occasionally I will try my luck with a boiled egg.
Twice a week I will pack a yoghurt. I find that my kids don’t eat it if it is packed everyday! Remember to pack a spoon!
- Other snacks:
With the other snacks, my kids vary quite a bit. For my daughter, who is 6, I will pack a rusk or a granola bar on a dancing day, as she finishes quite late.
My son, who is 4, will prefer a small white cheese, cucumber and carrots.
The mini rice cakes covered in yoghurt also make a wonderful and easy snack.
I will also pack some popcorn for the kids twice a month
- Juice or water:
Once a week, on tennis day for my daughter, I will pack a fruit juice for her. Otherwise they get a big bottle of water for school everyday.
How to pack the bag:
I tend to feel super accomplished once I have packed the cooler bags! I first pack the lunch box in first then pack around! It is like a game of Tetris!
Make sure that you use containers that the kids can open. Some of the cheaper containers are very tricky for kids to open without using their teeth! I find tubs with a screw on/off lid works well.
Mark everything so you can find your containers in the lost and found!