Getting Yourself Ahead and Avoiding the Stress of Back to School Lunches
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The end of the summer holidays are sneaking up on us, and within a couple of weeks children across the country will be starting the new school term. There are no big changes in this household, with all three children staying in their existing schools. School uniforms have been bought and labelled and a mortgage has been taken out for new school shoes!
Apart from new teachers, the only change this year is with Jack's school meals. For the past two years he's been enjoying free school dinners as part of the Government's scheme that started in 2014. To avoid rushing around in the mornings, I was happy for him to continue having school dinners, however he's informed me that he would now prefer to take a packed lunch. [groan]
I need to remind myself that making a packed lunch isn't really too bad, and all it takes is a little organisation.
The first step to being organised is to have the correct equipment, so we took a little trip out to find the ideal lunchbox.
If you visit Tesco at this time of the year you can't miss the back to school range, with uniform aplenty, displays of stationery, school bags and lunch boxes. We located the display of lunch bags and boxes easily, in the seasonal aisle at the front of the store, and picked out a football lunch bag from the top shelf that comes complete with a water bottle.
The next step is to stock up on ingredients.
It's a good idea to make sure you have everything you need to last throughout the week, to avoid additional trips to the supermarket. You won't need all of these items, but by selecting a few different ones each week will add a bit of variety into the lunchbox, and hopefully avoid boredom. Some of these, like the chocolates, biscuits and crackers could last a few weeks if you make sure to keep them away from other family members!
If you can set aside some time at the weekend it doesn't take long to get yourself ahead and bake a few items for the coming week. The recipes below are easy to make, and produce quite a few child sized portions which can be frozen if necessary (savoury muffins) or stored in an airtight container (flapjacks).
no added sugar flapjacks - makes 18-20
My kids love flapjacks, and I love making them, as they're so quick and easy. The only downside is that they are packed full of sugar. It's ok for that occasional treat, but if you're looking for something to pop into lunch boxes then these no added sugar alternatives are a better choice (and for the record, I think they taste just as good).
200g dates, chopped
150g boiling water
100g butter, melted
200g porridge oats
add the dates to a heatproof bowl and cover with the boiling water
leave to soak for at least an hour
blend to a paste in a food processor
stir in the melted butter and then the oats
press into a 11"x7" baking tin that's been lightly greased and lined with baking paper
bake in a preheated 180C oven for 20-25 minutes
leave to cool fully in the tin before slicing into bars or squares
veggie sticks can be prepared a day or two in advance so you'll only need to do this a couple of times per week, which can give you a few extra minutes in bed each morning!
ham, cheese and tomato muffins - makes 12 These savoury muffins are like mini crustless quiches, and are perfect for small appetites. For the larger appetite pack 3 or 4 of these in a lunchbox. 2 large eggs tbsp semi skimmed milk pinch of oregano 1 large slice of ham, chopped 3 babybel's, quartered 6 cherry tomatoes
beat the eggs, milk & oregano together
lightly oil a 12 hole mini muffin pan (I use a silicone one)
divide the egg mixture between the cells of the muffin pan (approx 1tbsp in each)
drop a few pieces of ham into the egg mixture
pop a piece of babybel and half a tomato onto the top
bake in a preheated 180C oven for 15 minutes, until puffed up and slightly browned on the top
What will you be adding to your lunch boxes? and do you have any other tips to make back to school lunches stress free?