School went back this week. Parents everywhere sighed in relief at the prospect of an end to sibling squabbling. And then, some time on Sunday night, the realisation sunk in that the school lunches slog was back. Staggering into the kitchen in the early hours to sling together some half-hearted ham sambos with a sad carrot on the side.
(And when I say "parents" I mean me, okay, it was ME.) But last month, I saw the work of Catherine McCord on Instagram and, while I don't feel any pressure to go to that extent, it made me up my game a little. Put a bit of thought into it. And it's amazing the difference that considering it at 7 the night before can make to what you put together at 7 in the morning.
|Camp lunch series from Weelicious|
Leftovers are the answer to almost everything. If I roast a chicken, I pick up a tray of extra wingettes or drumsticks from Kevin's Poultry (five dollar trays people!) and put them on the side. Dusted in a bit of paprika and oregano, they are perfect for picking out of a lunchbox the next day.
Hold back a bit of cooked lamb for souvlaki wraps or mix through pasta at the last minute and pop into a thermos.
And while there is still the occasional morning when I make Vegemite and cheese sandwiches, an inexpensive shaper makes it that bit more interesting.
The same applies to fruit - I had some highly suspicious children visiting during the holidays. They demanded chips for an afternoon snack, but when given a platter of sliced watermelon, kiwi fruit and apple plus cookie cutters of their choice, the fruit vanished in minutes. Nothing but skin and satisfaction left.
It's easy to make a carb-heavy lunch, but I have been making a conscious effort to reduce any processed foods and up the protein content. And colour is key. Mixing two different grape varieties together or a handful of yellow and baby orange tomatoes has a much higher success rate than one or the other.
Shop Neutral have an excellent range of Lunchbots boxes in different shapes and configurations. There are also gorgeous little round tubs that I use to bring yoghurt in to work or pop some strawberries aside for my daughter.
They also stock insulated lunch totes made from recycled plastic bottles to help keep things cool in the warmer months.
I thoroughly recommend checking the weelicious site for lunchbox ideas but really, it's about you and your kids and what works for you. The prettiest lunch in the world is wasted if your child won't eat it.