I was thinking the other day about the first ever lunch box I packed for my son.
Honestly I was a little nervous in the lead up to the first day of the little man’s school life. Just before he started school he went through a super shy / social freak out phase. Despite it eventually subsiding say after that first swim lesson of term or hour of a party, I wondered whether the first day of school would be really hard. I was braced and ready. We’d talked about how every single child there was having their first day and they were all going to be feeling excited and nervous and sometimes shy and that was totally cool. You wonder whether these things are going to sink in, don’t you?
He was of course dressed when I got up at 6.20, completely ready for school – even his hat! I figured that was a good sign and it was. We walked down as a family. He got playing and building things, met the teacher and we had a cuddle and left. He was already ‘busy’. No tears or leg hugging from either of us and I found myself drinking a juice down the road quietly, thinking, how odd. It was as if it were so natural and normal yet all so new.
Speaking of ‘new’ I was actually a little stumped for a minute on the lunch box detail – like there was pressure to perform, doing what I do. It’s not hard though, it’s incredibly simple. My strategy for the lunch box situation to be simple and stress free, is to plan well and make time OTHER THAN THE EARLY MORNING OF SCHOOL to be lunch box ready. I was determined for our lunch box not to be a packaging festival and even for a passionate cook like me, there might be the odd day where a few packets will creep in – but as I always say, it’s not about what you do every now and then, it’s about what you do often. And this is what I do often:
- Bake 2 -3 treats a fortnight on rotation and freeze double batches to make light work for the busy weeks. My banana bread or spiced fig and ginger bread (maybe ditch ginger if child isn’t a fan) are great for this, as are the apricot bars from my Real Treats book. The mix freezes well raw in rounds which you can then cut discs and bake as biscuits or roll out into a rectangle for bars, cutting them while it’s still warm)
- Always have crudité veggies at hand – capsicum, carrot, cucumber, celery, cherry tomatoes and alternative to keep things different over a fortnight.
- Always cook too many meatballs, sausages, burger patties or drumsticks and use them for lunch boxes the next day- These nourishing meats with healthy fats and protein that burn slower are great at lunch time, resulting in more balanced blood sugar levels – one of the key things that affects concentration. Sausages especially, when I think of my little guy and how soon after a meal I get told “I’m HUNGRY”. Go for ethical, organic and pasture raised wherever you can.
- Always cook too much roast veg like sweet potato or pumpkin – So yummy the next day in chunks, plain.
- Make 2 small batches of various dips, or a simple paté like mine or smash a half avocado with sea salt and press parchment down onto its surface so it doesn’t brown before lunch.
- A simple whole piece of fruit. Apple, a handful of strawberries, half a banana.
- Cubed, unprocessed cheese or a few olives
- Some sort of savoury home made muffin or the odd wrap with the leftover meat and shredded carrot / lettuce
- On a pate day seed or buckwheat crackers to enjoy it with.
- Then random rotating luxuries to keep things in discovery mode, like the odd little jar of home made popcorn, or organic ham, or a hot pot in an insulated container or a seasonal fruit or leftover home made cupcake from the weekend, little jar of chia pudding, a smoothie or nourishing thickshake or pressed veggie juice, frozen that defrosts over the morning and is super cold and yummy…
- Why no sandwich? Look I’m not ‘strict’ anything, other than Real Food, so yes, a sandwich might appear every now and then on quality gluten free bread made in a local bakery. BUT it won’t be the norm for me for the simple fact that the energy is too quick burning, compared to healthy fats at lunch time. The starchy carbs with little fat, turn to sugar pretty quickly in our bodies and burn faster and for a little learning mind, that just seems illogical to make ‘the norm’. Fibre comes from plants. All plants. So let it come mostly from veggies and fruits that aren’t too sweet and they’ll get plenty of that ‘fibre’ that those ads keep banging on about whole grains for. If you are diabetic or insulin resistant, see your practitioner to advise you, this is not intended as medical advice 🙂
And that’s about it!
Then in terms of the lunch box itself… I seem to have ended up with two smallish ones, so in the end, it’s perfect for keeping recess and lunch separate. These are some of my favourites, all of which I’ve purchased with my own money and recommend because we have loved them for trips to the park, extended car trips, picnics and playdates over the past couple of years.
DITCH PLASTIC wherever possible. These are my shopping mottos – especially around food storage.
In opting for stainless steel, you avoid exposure to hormone disrupting pthalates, BPA, BPS, PVC, DIOXIN… the list goes on. Detox the lunch box with these ones forever more and check out Biome for loads of other options too. If you do so throguh these links, you’re also supporting my work with a small commission, as I’m a super proud affiliate for Biome – one of the strictest ‘natural’ stores out there in terms of what they stock.
Trio of stainless, PVC and pthalate free containers (we’ve had ours for 3 years and still going strong. Worth the money to not have the toxic stuff surround their food!)
So here was our low tox lunch box.
The Apricot bars from my book Real Treats were a hit – always a crowd pleaser.
These cheesy zucchini muffins need one more tweak before sharing, texture wise
And the result? Not bad at all mum. Not bad at all. Phew!
Organic pasture raised pork sausage from the markets, fresh fruit, veggies and smashed avocado and the rest detailed above.
So what are your favourite lunch box foods for easy and nourishing options? What do your kids love?
Real Food. Happy Bodies.