Wage a war on school lunch-box junk

by | Feb 26, 2019 | Children's Health, General, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Join me in a weekly 1-2 hr lunch-box prep pledge and try some of these yummy and simple recipes to get you started!
I am a stickler for healthy school snacks and lunches, yet the morning lunch-box panic-on often has me reaching for “packets”.  Judging by the school lunch boxes pictured in a recent survey of two Melbourne schools, it seems most Aussie parents are falling short of providing nutritious school lunches for their kids. Whether from wealthy or lower income families, it’s clear the conundrum of delivering on the healthy school lunch is ubiquitous and that junk food is winning.  We cannot let that happen. 

It’s time to fight back against the junk food giants who wish to steal away our children’s health and dictate what our beautiful kids are eating.  To alleviate my own personal stress of the daily lunch-box and the battle against junk, I am having to force myself to get more organised – (and for those that know me well, being an organised Super Mum isn’t one of my strongest traits).  Read more to find out what I’m up to and try out some of our recently tried and tested lunch box ideas.

I’m two weeks in and this is how “my organised” looks: 

• A weekly meal plan – By weekly meal planning I plan four meals Mon-Thurs where two-three can be reheated and re-used for lunch in a thermos.  Not a hugely popular solution but the kids have bought into it twice a week.  Veggies can easily be hidden in home-cooked meals (e.g. Frozen spinach and pre-roasted and frozen pumpkin or sweet potato).

• A Sunday prep-fest.  Spending at least a 1 1/2hrs over the weekend baking with the kids (or without) miraculously bolsters the weeks supply of healthy snack & lunch box treats. And if you involve the kids, they’ll take pride in their work and will be more vested in sampling the delights they have created. 

• I get up ½ hr earlier every morning to prepare 

Lunch Box principles
As the custodian of my kids health, my goal is to achieve for them as balanced and nutritionally rich a diet as possible.  
This means:

  • DOING THE JERF – this is all about getting the kids to “just eat real food” – (I just wish my boys would love doing the JERF as much as they love to do their Fortnite dances).  
  • Significantly reducing refined (white flour) products and sugary, bad fatty junk that tries to pass itself off as healthy.  
  • Creating home-made deliciousness (ideally that my kids will eat) packed with a variety of whole foods that can be used for recess, lunch and after school snacks
  • Minimising sugar highs and lows by incorporating protein and healthy fats.
  • Aiming for seven portions of fruits and veggies a day. 
  • Following the 80:20 rule. They choose dinner once a week and have a Friday Junk day (e.g. Lunch Order)

Join me in the 1-2 hour a week lunch-box prep pledge!!!!
The battle against junk food is unbelievably tough and I literally have to psyche myself up for it on a daily basis. The most frequent argument my kids cite is that EVERYONE ELSE EATS SANDWICHES AND PACKET FOOD.  But even if we were to change three lunch boxes per week that will be hugely beneficial for our kid’s health. Don’t let me be the only one. Come on and join me in the 1 ½ hour a week lunch-box prep pledge….Take baby steps, don’t beat yourself up & don’t give up!

Here are some quick and easy recipes and ideas to get you going
I beg, borrow and steal from the amazing recipe creators already out there. Not all work well but the following do. They are simple and quick so anyone can do them. 

Sweet potato Brownies – Honestly I cannot recommend these highly enough.  I use the orange sweet potato and they are fabulous. Kids love them. Don’t leave them in the baking tray as they will go soggy and they’re better once cooled! 
Thanks Irena at Eat, Drink Paleo.

Banana oat cookies – Teresa Cutter’s recipe palace is amazing. These worked well, kids liked them for school and after school.  I forgot to add the apple (a cheeky time saver) and swapped maple syrup for honey. Perhaps go easier on the sultanas. I reckon some smashed organic Aldi dark chocolate for extra anti-oxidant decadence could work in place of sultanas too!

Rice bubble crispies
I don’t usually go for puffed rice due to the low nutritional value & high GI but they were brown and they were organic and how does one refrain from an Aldi impulse buy? These are simple & super quick and the kiddos smashed through them pre and post school! The American Detoxinista also makes them with peanut butter. 

Falafel
I admit to never having made falafel and haven’t ever used this website before but based on the deliciousness this recipe created I’ll be sure to revisit. The falafels are baked in olive oil (not fried) (I included extra fresh mint and olive oil & I dared to serve them for my kids lunch with a Greek-esque salad and humous. Aldi also do an amazing new soft goats cheese that would also work as a dip. Ps Gut microbes love chick peas.

Hot smoked salmon dip or sandwich filler
I buy the Huon smoked salmon offcuts or the Aldi hot smoked salmon and mash it with some Aldi Quark or Aldi soft cream cheese. Add the juice and zest of a lemon and parsley if you have it.  

Left overs for the thermos lunch- Include at least two of the below dishes to your weekly dinner repertoire and you’ve got leftovers for lunch.  Stuff in as many veggies as you can – within reason!  (I got up to seven vegetables in my last sausage casserole)!! 

• Bolognaise
• Meat balls 
• Mild (chicken) curry (Thai, Indian etc) 
• Pasta sauce
• Stews and casseroles
• Stir fried brown rice and veggies plus protein of choice
• Stir fries – mild Thai, Japanese or Chinese flavours
• Shepherd’s or cottage pie
• Noodles
• Soups (Sadly my kids refuse to eat soups)

Fruit and Veg
Our school has an obligatory fruit / veg break in the morning.  
My kids always have one serving of fruit per day and one to two servings of vegetable crudites / day. If any of it comes back, they eat it after school before getting anything else. 
Try dips but look for ones with olive oil if you’re buying and not making. Canola oil and sunflower oils are not good choices.

Yoghurts – if your kids tolerate dairy
• Opt for large plain traditional Greek or goats yoghurt and serve in your own pots –  add frozen berries on top – it’s best to steer clear of heavily fruit laden and sugary yoghurts 

• Alternatively Vaalia my first yoghurt – designed for infants  has no added sugar and are the only yoghurts in Australia that contain LGG – a very well researched probiotic strain known to confer a range of health benefits eg anti-allergy.

Sandwich fillings 
• I limit sandwiches simply to restrict the amount of gluten the kids consume, in favour of more nutrient dense food. 
• Opt for good quality bread.  I never feed my kids a bread I wouldn’t be happy eating myself and that makes crappy white bread out and sourdough in. 
• Think anything with salad.   I personally think good quality free-range sausages, bacon and cheese are ok in my book and better than heavily processed cheese, nutella and other poor quality, processed meats.
• I use avocado mixed with lemon as a spread (because my kids don’t like butter in sandwiches) or pesto or other dips.
• Always add more veggies where you can. Eg Tuna mix with grated veggies (ie carrot, zucchini, fennel or celery & spring onion) plus lemon juice, olive oil & avo