Nov 10, 2017

The Preschooler Lunchbox Project.

We're one week down already on the Preschooler Lunch Box Trail and I'm calling it early. 

I'm also calling it a huge success.  Preschooler SSG excitedly showed me an empty lunch box every afternoon at pick up and he's become very conscious of making sure the lunch I pack contains each of the five food groups.  To my surprise, the little chocolate treats I planned to pack were actually declined as he kept his focus on only including healthier options in each lunch.

Not surprisingly, packing the lunchbox each morning has taken up more than the 5 minutes I thought it would.  Preschooler SSG wanted to help fill the segments of his Yumbox.  There were also a few things he didn't want including.  Not ever just not on the days I chose to prefill the box.  Then there was also his involvement in helping make the last minute additions to each box.  And then there's the small matter of our agonizing over which decorative picks to use for the day.

I think things will settle down as the novelty fades for both of us but in the meantime, I think making ahead and freezing the savoury and baked goods components of lunch is the way to go.  I defrost what we need the night before in the fridge.  I've tried a few very simple recipes for the lunchbox trial and they were a huge hit so I thought I'd share the links in today's post.

The first recipe I tried was puff pastry pizza wheels using Kidspot's recipe.  Basically, all you need is what you see in the photo.  Puff pastry (I used butter puff), pizza sauce (store bought this time but I might branch out and make some myself next time), ham, cheese, and pizza / Italian herb mix.

To assemble, use the puff pastry as if it were a pizza base and layer everything else on top.  Then roll up tightly and slice thinly. 

Bake and voila... economical and tasty pizza scrolls!

The second recipe I used is actually a gluten free one for meat balls.  Bacon makes everything better and what I also liked about this recipe was that you baked them in the oven.  My carb loving soul got the better of me and I added a half cup of panko crumbs plus and egg to bind.  As well as grated carrot because we all know how much I love a stealth vegetable.

Both recipes were easy to freeze in batches using zip lock bags.

This was our first preschool lunch box.  The chocolate freckles were removed by Preschooler SSG before we left the house.  I did find paper patty cases useful for separating a few foods but think I might invest in a few silicone ones for next year because I'm afraid the paper could get soggy as the day wears on.

A quick trick that went down well was making sandwiches of buttered pikelets and then cutting out a star shape.

Unfortunately my Daiso cutters didn't work with our fruit leathers.

So I had to use boring circular metal cutters.

Banana chips, cheese stick and pre-washed fruit and vegetable crudites filled the rest of our second lunch box.

I'm a sucker for those themed animal picks.  So cute and for such little effort.

My third lunch rotation featured a pre-baked and filled croissant.  I used the mini ones from Woolies and filled with cheddar and sliced turkey.  These appear to freeze well.  Drained tinned fruit worked in the Yumbox and there wasn't any leakage into any of the other compartments from what I can tell.  I made a low sugar oatmeal slice which Preschooler SSG ate but didn't love.  I'm scouring my cookbooks for an alternative for next year.

And there you have it, I've survived my first week as a lunchbox packing mum and no one has starved.  It was a challenge for me because though I pack my own lunch for work, I have access to a fridge at work and also know exactly how much food I need.  Guestimating for someone else, especially if they're a preschooler is really hard.

I'd also like to thank all those wise mums ahead of me who suggested firstly the Yumboxes as they've made healthy eating so appealing to my preschooler and also the tips and tricks regarding what foods work well to make ahead and freeze.  

Do you have any school lunchbox go-to recipe ideas?


  1. Does Master SSG like peanut butter? If yes, I have been making rice crispy treats which are a bit more healthy than the usual ones.

    They are super simple - just melt some coconut oil, a bar of dark nestle cooking chocolate which is the same chocolate as the one in dark kit kat but any kind of dark chocolate would do, a cup or so of peanut butter, and a teeny amount of maple syrup for me because I do not love it too sweet but for Master SSG you might want to add a touch more. Then pour that over rice bubbles, into a lined tray, into the fridge to set. I don't use set amounts, I fly by the seat of my pants on this one. I also do add salt to mine but probably most kids would not be a fan of that. ;)

    I made this for The Other Half with nutrigrain and it turned out awesome but a tad too sweet for me - I really don't need to add any sweetener for that particular recipe as the nutrigrain is already quite sweet.

    It is kind of like a chocolate crackle but without the copha and with peanut butter which is always a winner IMO. ;)

  2. Thank you so much for this post! Especially for the pizza wheel recipe - reminds me of this surprisingly delicious vegemite and cheese scroll someone brought to the Christmas party last year for the kids that I still haven't made - I will pick up some puff pastry next time I'm in woolies and get cooking!

    I really need to inject some variety into lunch time so while I don't have to pack everything in a box as most of the time the boys eat at home, I am saving this post to refer to again later when I need re-inspired again! :)

    Hope you have had a lovely week and have a great weekend ahead of you :)


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