|Nothing says "I love you" like a heart shaped sarnie!|
Tomorrow my daughter starts school so as well as getting used to the school run, homework and ironing school shirts I will also have to start making packed lunches for her. As I've not done this before I've been looking at some ideas on how to make a healthy but also exciting packed lunch box that will hopefully encourage her to actually eat it! These are the ideas I have come up with so far please feel free to add your own top tips in the comments box.
Make a shape
My children are not great sandwich eaters - they usually end up picking out the filling and throwing away the bread. However I had noticed that if I cut the sandwiches into shapes they somehow seemed more enticing and they actually ate them all. This is easy to do using cookie cutters that you already have or you can buy specially shaped sandwich cutters. As my little girl loves dinosaurs I got these ones from Amazon. No need to worry about food waste as you can use the leftover crusts to make breadcrumbs, croutons or a bread pudding!
Make your freezer your friend.
I can imagine nothing worse than rushing around every morning frantically trying to make sandwiches with a toddler hanging off my leg and a divaesque four year old refusing to eat her breakfast so I've been researching how to freeze sandwiches. Apparently its very easy to do as long as you make sure there is a layer of butter or spread on each slice of bread (as this prevents the bread getting soggy). Cheese, ham and tuna all freeze well so you can make a batch in advance then take them out of the fridge in the morning, pop them into your child's lunch box and they will be defrosted by lunchtime (and would still be fresh and cool).
Try something new
I think its probably easy to get stuck in a packed lunch rut with sandwiches every day but as an alternative to sarnie you could try homemade sausage rolls, or my favourite - these Annabel Karmel chicken balls - these freeze really well too you you can make up a batch in advance to save time.
Get a kebab!
Fruit or veg kebabs can add some novelty value to a lunchbox and encourage them to eat something healthy. Use fruit such as strawberries, mango or melon on a wooden kebab or cocktail stick and add in a little pot of chocolate spread or yogurt for them to dip their fruit in. For veggie kebabs you could use cucumber, pepper and carrots and use hummous or tzatsiki as a dipping sauce.
Making a packed lunch exciting and engaging doesn't just have to be about food either. You can create some excitement by adding a little note for your child to read on a heart shaped post it note. You could also put in a napkin with their favourite characters on it or, if the school allows, you can even put a sticker in - only to be used if they eat all their lunch!
Let them eat cake.
Did you know cake can actually be healthy too (well that's what I keep telling myself). If you cut down on the sugar and add some fruit or veg it's a sneaky way to get them eating healthily. You can try this chocolate courgette cake or a more traditional carrot cake. My favourite though is this banana and date recipe. The dates are so sweet that you don't need to add much sugar at all!
8oz (225g) self-raising flour
4oz (100g butter
2 oz (100) dark brown sugar
3-4 ripe bananas
a handful of dried chopped dates
Simply whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor (or stir together in a bowl) then add the mixture to a greased loaf tin and cook at 180c for about 45 minutes.