Ok so when you’re kids are starting daycare, kindy, prep or school it can be a little overwhelming. I get that! It’s daunting to think of what to pack, how to pack it, question whether it’s enough or too much, will my kids eat the food I pack, what will others think of the lunch I have packed, does it suit the school guidelines or the kids nutritional needs and not to mention what bloody lunchbox or water bottle do you buy? It’s crazy, all these things can float around in your head before you even start.
So where do you start? Well for me, I checked if there were any specific sized lunchbox I needed to get or if insulated bags were needed (or if they needed anything packed separately for a morning or afternoon snack). In my case they just need the one lunchbox and for it to go in the fridge at prep so I don’t need to worry about an insulated bag. I ended up buying the Yumbox lunch boxes at Little Bento World and Yumbox Australia. Mainly because I like that style of lunchbox where my kids can have a selection of snack type foods to eat and it’s all package free as I usually make most of the food from scratch. I also love not having a million containers to wash each day or for them to lose. My kids love their fruit and vegetables and lots of things and love variety like myself and I like to mix it up a bit for them too. I also got them because I read they were leakproof and easy to open and close. Next was a water bottle. To be honest I was in Big W for a change and got a water bottle my daughter has had before that is easy to open and close and is pink because she loves pink. I wanted to get her a stainless steel one but I couldn’t find one I really loved in the shops I went to. So this will do for now until I find one I love at a reasonable price. The way my kids lose things etc I don’t want an overly priced one and that’s my own preference. Have a look online at lots of different lunch boxes and ask a million questions if you need to about their size, capacity, how easily they open etc. Don’t feel like you can’t ask questions because if you don’t you will never know the answer. And ask for more photos too if you need more to help make an informed decision.
Next is to think about is what do I pack inside? Well that is pretty easy for me as my kids eat pretty much most things. And if they don’t eat what’s in their lunchbox they will snack when they get home or eat what is packed if hungry enough! I found that sitting down with my daughter and writing a list of things she would love packed is a great place to start. Write the list and then hang it up on the kitchen cupboard or fridge and slowly make bulk portions of the foods and freeze them as you go. Things like processed sugar free banana bread, cheese and bacon scrolls or rolls, zucchini slice, coconut loaf, pinwheels, cooked sausages, fried rice, butter chicken curry in a wrap, fruit, homemade yogurt, mountain bread cooked in the oven and broken into chips and some sour cream as dip are all things I cook/prep ready for easy and ready to go lunchbox food. If I am cooking bangers and mash for dinner then I do extra (don’t forget the gravy) and freeze in small portions ready to grab and pack. My kids love it. Also lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise, lamb chops, chicken wings, fried rice/noodles, chicken burrito and salad wraps are all things my kids love as well. My kids also love rice paper rolls and homemade sausage rolls filled with lots of grated veggies (shh don’t tell them as they don’t know it’s in there haha).
Start small, start simple and go from there. I used to get a loaf of fresh bread and make it up into sandwiches that froze ready for lunches already cut into pieces to pack. I found this worked but since then I have started to cut back how much bread my kids eat so don’t do that anymore. I used to do Vegemite and cheese, ham and cheese and even fairy bread sandwiches can be done like this too as a treat. The options are endless with what you can make and pack for your kids and it depends on how simple or complicated you make it. I like easy and healthy options so tend to pack most things that don’t have lots of ingredients/processed ingredients. For instance cooked meat, salad, fruit, vegetables and homemade foods I cook from scratch. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea especially if they are working or don’t like cooking whereas I would stand and cook all day if I could as I love it! And knowing my kids are getting fresh and healthy food makes me feel good. Not everyone is like this or can be like this as their situation is different so I always tell myself and others to do their best in their situation with what they have. I have had times where there were only a few things in the fridge and freezer and it comes down to packing Cheerios, sauce, fruit, crackers and a sandwich. I felt awful that it came to it and I just had to accept that that is how it was just for that day and it taught me a great lesson- to be prepared and organized! So off I went and bought all the ingredients to cook and pack better options. It’s all about doing your best, no one is perfect!
And if you are feeling like you want to cook something but don’t have a recipe well Google is your friend. And don’t forget to tweak recipes for your own nutritional or family needs. For instance I started out cutting the sugar amount by half in recipes and now I use rapadura sugar, puréed fruit or fresh raw honey as sweeteners (or just leave it out completely) in recipes. Whereas other families might not have that same requirement or want to do that. It’s up to you as a parent what you pack in your kids lunchbox, no one else, not even your kids! You are the person who chooses and buys your kids food and who packs it so do the best you can with what you have. And don’t be hard on yourself or put too much pressure on yourself (hard to do I know as I am the queen of over analyzing things I do at times).
And most of all don’t forget to have fun! Have fun packing your kids lunches and enjoy the fact that your showing your kids how to eat good food. Make it appetizing with how you pack it and keep it interesting by changing what you pack each week so they don’t get bored and they start eating new and different things. Kids cannot start eating new things if they aren’t given it to taste in the first place. Who knows, they might even love the new food you pack!
I hope this has helped in some way with ideas on what to pack or buy. Please feel free to comment below and ask questions if you have any.
Good luck with your next stage of parenting where your kids go into care or school etc. It’s exciting, scary, nerve-wracking and also fun!
Have a great day!
From Anita 😃