Not another cheese sandwich…

Depending on where you live, school holidays are just beginning, almost over or nowhere in sight. Regardless of where you are in the holiday/school cycle, one thing is certain, you are never far from the relentless drudgery of filling endless plastic containers with food. And not just any food. It must be food that walks the fine line between healthy wholesome food, and the junk that children will willingly eat when not closely supervised.

But lets start with the basics – containers. Despite The Family Beasts overriding philosophy to step as lightly on this earth as possible and a general aversion to anything plastic, it’s confession time. There is NO school lunch situation that cannot be improved with the addition of MORE colourful plastic containers in every imaginable size and shape.  You can never have too many Never.

You can add some feel-good stainless steel eco lunch kits in to salve your conscience but you will still need more. Every trip to aisle 5 at the supermarket will lead to the discovery of a clip-clack-stack combo that you don’t have yet – and with three children that’s one in pink, one in blue and one in green (because you’ve colour-coded them already, right?). It all adds up – both the price at the checkout and the cost when you have to renovate the kitchen to fit everything in. Then there are drink bottles, Thermos’ and little leak-proof tubs for salad dressing and soy sauce.

Usually after a few terms of struggling to find the right lid to go with each container, making sure the correct lunch has been placed into the coloured container that corresponds with the child that will actually eat that particular combination of food, most parents will feel like piling the entire collection into a jumbo garbage bag and dropping it in the nearest Salvation Army bin and reverting to stale cheese sandwiches in brown paper bags and a box of weevil infested sultanas. Or the school canteen.

To start the ball rolling on things to put in all those damn containers, here are some ideas – every thing is nut free because most schools seem to be these days.

Scroggin or Trail Mix
This is great all rounder for those ‘just in case they get hungry’ moments. The best part is you can put just about anything into it and adjust it for fussy eaters. Basically it’s a mix of any of the following types of food:

sunflower seeds
banana chips
dried cranberries
dried apricots
dried dates
dried apple
corn chips

This is a nut-free list to get you started – obviously nuts can be added for non-school occasions. The scroggin can be kept in a sealed container in their backpack, or in the car for after school snacks and topped up accordingly.

This is a great idea for leftovers.  Bake extra vegetables when roasting.  Place the leftovers in a dish and just cover with beaten egg, top with grated cheese and cook until firm. This can be sliced into fingers for a very nutritious and easy to eat lunch.  Just about anything can go in so you really can tailor it to your child’s tastes. If you are a fritatta virgin (and let’s face it, we all were at some point) here is a good starter’s guide: Basic Vegetable Frittata

You can also adapt The Family Beast’s Top 3: Non-cooking Meals, Hummus and vegetables, sushi, and rice paper rolls to lunch box fare as well.

This week The Family Beast will also cover pantry organisation, enticing vegetable based snacks, and cooking books for children – because the sooner they know how to operate the kitchen properly – the better!

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