What exactly constitutes a great, balanced lunchbox for kids?
We?d all like our kids to eat a good mix of things, but sometimes even enticing them to eat one thing is hard enough!
One of Australia?s most celebrated and best-loved family cooks, Julie Goodwin, says she too has faced her own share of lunchbox dilemmas.
?My sons are now 21, 20 and 18 and believe me there have been plenty of times I?ve run out ideas,? she laughs. ?I know what it?s like to pack lunch boxes day in and day out, and how tricky it can be to come up with food to keep them interested that?s still healthy and no-fuss. Whilst I don?t think there?s any such thing as a ?perfect? lunchbox, you can offer a variety of things that make up a tasty, balanced lunch. The more interesting you can make each component the more likely they are to eat all of it.?
The former MasterChef winner and Star 104.5 radio host recently teamed up with Weet-Bix to devise a unique eCookbook of lunch box snacks – Julie Goodwin?s Weet-Bix Lunchbox Snacks Cookbook.?It features quick and easy tasty treats made with crushed Weet-Bix, including apple crumble muffins, hommus dip, mini banana and strawberry loaf, spinach parcels, zucchini and corn slice, sultana pikelets, samosa patties and more.
Here are Julie;s top ideas for a balanced lunch box that kids will love:
Pack some protein
Cold chicken is often a favourite addition in kids? lunchboxes, however you could make it a bit more interesting by grilling some chicken strips with some sweet chilli sauce. Or baking chicken drumsticks with a honey and soy glaze. Cold chicken wings that have been baked in teriyaki sauce are also delicious.
2. Carb it up
So sandwiches, which are easy to prepare ahead and freeze, are always a bit of a lifesaver. Good quality ham, rocket and aioli sandwiches freeze well. As does corned beef, mango chutney and Jarlsberg cheese. Just pop them frozen into a lunchbox in the morning and they will thaw out by lunchtime. Or else a muffin or flatbread with a dip like hommus (there?s a great recipe for this in the Weet-Bix eCookbook) is also a good choice for a carb hit.
3. Add some fun fruit
Rather than just popping an apple or banana into a lunchbox which gets a bit boring, do fruit skewers such as pieces of rockmelon, watermelon and honeydew melon. Or else frozen seedless grapes are really refreshing and crunchy in summer time.
4. Crank up the crunch
Kids adore crunchy stuff, so a small whole wheat cracker or low-salt pretzels are good choices. Or else add some pizazz to some popcorn by making a savoury version. Toss the popped corn with a little mild paprika, lemon pepper, onion powder and garlic powder for something more-ish and different.
5. Don?t forget a treat
So rather than popping a piece of chocolate or a packet of potato chips in for a treat, there are a number of additions you can make which kids will love just as much and are far more healthy! Bliss Balls are a perfect as they is no actual cooking involved and can be frozen or stored in a sealed container for later.