The Curse of the Healthy Packed Lunch

School packed lunches aren’t what they used to be.

Though to be fair neither are school dinners! All freshly made that day with a healthy, varied menu. When my son brought home the menu for the term starting January I had to Google what a Jambalaya was! But because of this my son has always had school dinners. As a single mum I always try to put variety into our meals but being the only person cooking the variety is harder to implement. But they’ve given him an opportunity to try things that I don’t like and wouldn’t cook. I can’t stand the smell of fish cooking, it makes me physically gag! And I know he’s getting a really good, warm meal each day in school.

However from this term he wants to go to packed lunch. And all the batch cooking I’ve been doing for it got me to thinking. Packed lunches are encouraged to be healthy for children. My niece once came home with a sticker on her lunch box saying her lunch was not deemed healthy enough. Naturally my sister was livid. I wasn’t too impressed myself. You give your children what you know they’ll eat and enjoy for lunch. If you want to fill them full of sugar, or fats, or whatever food group then you should be allowed to do so. But naturally I feel pressure to make sure my son gets a good, balanced lunch so as not to be unfavourably judged by the teachers and other parents. Funny how parenthood always comes down to that same pressure that you are deemed by others to be doing what they believe is best for your child? 😉

So this Easter holidays has been spent frantically Googling ideas for good packed lunches for when my son goes back to school. I should point out that my son is pretty good with food and will usually reach for the fruit and veg first but he’s difficult when it comes to regular sandwiches. He’ll only eat cheese ones and even then certain cheeses only! I’ve been looking at foods I can batch make and freeze and then prep the night before so it’s simply a case of pulling some stuff out of the freezer. So here are some of my favourite packed lunch ideas so far:

Pizza Quesadillas

Basically take two tortilla wraps, spread a pizza sauce on one and add whatever pizza toppings you want. Place the second wrap on top and then I bake them in the oven. A proper quesadilla should be fried but this is supposed to be healthy! I then cut into six and freeze in batches to be taken out and eaten cold whenever. The best is this works out at around 50p for a full quesadilla (two lunches for my son).

*A basic tomato sauce can be made using passata, basil, and garlic though you can also add extra veggies and blend it for the smooth consistency.

Unicorn Cornflake Bars

These are definitely not healthy when consumed in large quantities but they’re fun to eat and something different from the usual cereal bar! Stick one of these in as a small sweet treat.

I have no measurements for these as I just make them by throwing the ingredients together. Melt marshmallows and some butter over a stove, then stir through a little of some different food colourings to create a marble effect. Add cornflakes in gradually and stir through the marshmallow and butter mixture until the mixture struggles to cover them . You could also add Rainbow Drops, glitter spray, hundreds and thousands, or whatever takes your fancy! Cool in a fridge, cut into bars, and freeze.

Popcorn

Easy to make and easy to mix up! The flavour possibilities are endless with that one and if you have some food dye you can even make several batches of different colours and mix them together. This can be frozen in an airtight bag to be used and flavoured whenever needed.

 

If anyone has any other tried and tested recipes then please leave them in the comments below.  Also if you try any of my suggestions let me know how it went down! Cooking is one of the things I love doing, especially with new cuisines from places outside the UK so I’d love to try some out myself and get feedback on the stuff I make.

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