Annabel's tip for lunchboxes:
Most children will leave food that takes a lot of effort to eat as they want a quick re-fuelling stop leaving maximum time for the playground. For example, give clementines already peeled and cover with plastic wrap or cut kiwi fruit in half and let them scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon. Cut up raw vegetables will keep fresh if you wrap them in damp kitchen paper and why not include a tasty dip.
Lunch on a Stick
You can make up kebabs using skewers or straws with many different foods. They are quick to put together and easy to pack in your kid's lunchbox. Here are some examples, but feel free to make up your own combinations choosing healthy foods that your child enjoys.
Slices of ham or turkey rolled up and interspersed with cubes of cheese and wedges of pineapple
Cherry tomatoes and mozzarella
Chicken Tikka with Cucumber
Carrot, cucumber, red pepper and cubes of gruyere or emmenthal cheese
Cubes of cheese, cucumber and cherry tomato
Squares of tortilla omelette
Salami, mini balls of mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes
Fruit on a stick
Thread a selection of fruits onto a thin straw or for older children you can use a skewer. You can use a mixture of fresh and dried fruits eg:
- Chunks of pineapple
- Dried apricots
- Cubes of mango
With three children, I know the daily grind. How many peanut butter or Marmite sandwiches can a parent make? By half term most creative lunch impulses have died a dreary day-to-day death. Stuffed pitta pockets with a nutritious filling make a nice change from an ordinary sandwich for your child’s lunchbox -try this tasty tuna mix which can be made up the night before.
200g can tuna in oil
100g (4 oz) sweetcorn
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp white wine vinegar
4 spring onions, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a few drops Tabasco sauce
salad cress (optional)
2 pitta breads
Put the eggs in a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes (the yolk should be solid). Drain and cool under cold water. Peel the eggs when cold.
Meanwhile, strain the oil from the can of tuna and mix the flaked tuna together with the sweetcorn, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, spring onion, salt and pepper and the tabasco sauce. Roughly chop the hard-boiled eggs and add to the tuna mix with the salad cress (if using), stirring well.
Cut the pitta breads in half to give 4 pitta pockets and divide the mixture between them.
MAKES 2 PORTIONS
Turkey Pasta Salad - Lunchbox Recipe
Children love this salad with moist chunks of turkey and pasta shapes in a delicious dressing and it only takes minutes to prepare. You can prepare this the night before and then toss with the dressing in the morning and put it in a small plastic container with a lid in your child’s lunchbox.
50g pasta shape
100g cooked turkey or chicken, chopped
1 baby gem lettuce, chopped
100g canned sweetcorn
6 to 8 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 or 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
Honey and Soy Dressing
3 tbsp light olive oil
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Put the chopped turkey, gem lettuce, sweetcorn, tomatoes and spring (green) onion into a bowl together with the drained pasta and toss with the dressing.
MAKES 2 PORTIONS
It’s good idea to buy an insulated lunch box. Lunchboxes left in a warm place can become a breeding ground for germs. To keep your child’s lunchbox cool, buy a mini ice pack or freezer gel packs which can be frozen overnight. Buy a couple of ice packs so that you will always have one in the freezer. Alternatively freeze a carton or plastic bottle of juice overnight. The frozen drink will help keep food cool and will have defrosted by lunchtime.
Apple & Carrot Muffins
These are one of my favourite muffins and they are so easy to make. They are great for breakfast, kid lunch boxes or a snack. A tasty way to get your child to eat more fruit and vegetables.
150g (5 oz) plain wholemeal flour
50g (2 oz) granulated sugar
25g (1 oz) dried skimmed milk powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
125ml (4 fl oz) vegetable oil
60ml (2 fl oz) honey
60ml (2 fl oz) maple syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 vanilla essence
1 large apple, peeled and grated
75g (3 oz) carrots, peeled and grated
75g (3 oz) raisins
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Combine the flour, skimmed milk powder, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and ginger in a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the honey, maple syrup, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla essence. Beat lightly with a wire whisk until blended.
Add the grated apple, carrots and raisins to the liquid mixture and stir until just combined.
Line a muffin tray with paper cups and fill until two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
You can also make mini muffins which are ideal for children they will take about 15 minutes to bake.
Suitable for freezing
MAKES 12 MUFFINS
Around a quarter of mothers include cereal bars in their childs lunchbox. (Mintel) However many cereal bars marketed for children contain over 40% sugar with more calories from sugar than in a bar of chocolate. When you eat cereal with milk, much of the sugar is washed away from your teeth, whereas with bars, the combination of fat and sugar means it hangs around, giving bacteria time to get to work turning the sugar to the acids which cause decay.