The Lunchbox Monster
It is there, waiting – every school day morning – waiting to be filled: The Lunch Box Monster.
(Think Luke Skywalker’s response to Darth Vader’s “I am your father” declaration, and you’ll get the “no” just right).
To say I don’t like making school lunches is an understatement. You see, it’s a battle: me trying to find ways to fill the monster against the constant hunger. And I can’t just fill the box with anything; items need to be tasty, healthy, packed well, transportable and varied. At the end of the day, The Lunch Box Monster and I won’t ever see eye to eye; however, I am pleased to say I’m learning to manage the beast and I’ll tell you how.
Before I launch into how I conquered the monster, I have to do some math. Stay with me now. To satisfy this monster in primary school alone, a parent will approximately make 1,400 lunches per child. Now, for me this means…
FLIP! 5,600 lunches. No wonder I think the lunchbox is evil.
To overcome the monster, I’ve drawn on the experience of many warriors who have gone before me. I’ve boiled it down to this: a little pre-planning, a lot of food, the training of recruits and a special relationship with the freezer.
1. Dedicated lunchbox basket:
Have a dedicated lunchbox, basket or draw. I use Starmaid Large Handy Baskets to keep container sizes and lids separate.
To aid the morning rush, much of the lunch preparation can be done the night before and the weekend.
• Cut up fruit and vegetable pieces.
• Portion yoghurt and crackers.
• Make a batch of sandwiches and place them in the freezer (more details below).
• Bake home goods and freeze in portion size.
Your freezer will become your greatest ally against The Lunch Box Monster so treat it well. Lunch box items can be taken out of the freezer in the morning and put straight in the lunchbox. They will be thawed and fresh by eating time. The following items will keep for 2 weeks in the freezer.
Sandwiches: Make sandwiches with fillings like cheese and ham, vegemite, jam, tuna, avocado or egg. It’s easy to include some fresh salad in the morning if that’s a preference.
Other Food: Cakes and slices, canned fish, avocado, baked beans, zucchini slice, quiche and hard-boiled egg are some snack ideas that are able to be frozen.
Organising the freezer
• It’s helpful to have dedicated draw in the freezer for lunch box items.
• Separating portion size is easy with zip-lock bags. For a more environmentally friendly option, use individual containers or freeze in batches and place directly in the lunch box of a morning.
4. Train recruits:
The best thing about this system is the ability to train recruits to feed The Lunch Box Monster. Of a morning, my six year old is able to grab a lunch box, take a main item from the freezer, a baked item, a whole piece of fruit, cut vegetables and yoghurt while I – drink tea (well that’s the plan but it never quite works that way).
Here are some of our favourite lunch box recipes.
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup desiccated Coconut
½ cup white sugar
¾ cup milk.
1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
2. Mix all ingredients together.
3. Pour mixture into greased loaf tin.
4. Cook for 40 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
5. Slice and serve with butter.
3 large zucchini grated (400 grams)
1 onion grated
200 grams of diced bacon
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup self-raising flour
1 cup grated cheese
100 grams of fetta cheese crumbled (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Grate zucchini and onion into a large bowl.
3. Add bacon, flour, fetta cheese, oil and lightly beaten eggs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Pour into a greased 20cm square dish.
5. Bake for 35-40 mins until golden and set.
Magic Strawberry Mousse
1 punnet strawberries
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
2. Pour into individual containers and allow to set for 30 minutes.
3. Will keep in the fridge for 3 days.
Variation: Mix equal portions of vanilla yoghurt and Magic Strawberry Mousse.
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup sultanas
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup self-raising flour
½ cup brown sugar
125 grams margarine, melted
2 tablespoons honey
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Combine dry ingredients.
3. Add Margarine and honey.
4. Press into greased 25cm slice pan.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
6. Cut into squares when cool.
2 ripe avocadoes
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 roughly diced tomato
2 tablespoons of chopped coriander
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 chilies chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Mash avocado with a fork.
2. Mix in the chili, garlic, tomato, lemon juice and yoghurt.
3. Whisk together until smooth.
4. Add to lunch box with carrot slices, celery slice, crackers or beans.
I may have conquered the monster but I’m not sure if I’ve won the battle. Ask me after 5,600 lunches and I’ll tell you.
Tell me: how do you survive The Lunch Box Monster?
Kelly Burstow combines her passion for design, children’s books, photography, fashion, writing and parenting in her blog, Be A Fun Mum. Be A Fun Mum is all about reclaiming the enjoyment of parenting, one moment at a time. Kelly lives in Queensland with her husband, four children and far too many guinea pigs.