Lunch boxes. The word strikes fear in the heart of every mom, every where… and a few dads too.
How on earth do you pack a lunch box that’s affordable, healthy, quick AND filled with things your kids will actually eat?? This is the eternal question. Probably more stressful than “What is the meaning of life” because it happens EVERY DAY! Ok every week day.
I don’t think I’m alone when it comes to feeling a sense of dread each time the school holidays come to an end or Sunday night rolls around. And it’s not due to the earlier wakeups or the morning traffic or the stress of getting out the house on time… and remembering everything that everyone needs to take to school. It’s because of the lunch boxes!
For the past few years my poor kids have been pretty much getting a stock standard lunch of sandwich (with peanut butter, jam if they’re lucky!), a piece of fruit and another small item that’s a bit more interesting… think nuts, biltong, baby tomatoes, cubes of cheese. Yes, all of these are great options and I definitely think I’m doing a pretty good job of avoiding junk. I’m certain my kids are getting a better lunch box than I ever did 😉
The problem is that even when you’re supplying them with a pretty good, healthy lunch box with a variety of options… they still come home uneaten. I suppose, as with all of us, eating the same thing day in and day out must get boring!
If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’m no chef. I don’t even cook our main meal at night… (don’t hate me!!) so when Clicks asked me to come up with a few new ideas for lunch boxes I was initially a bit stumped and overwhelmed at the idea of creating recipes or concepts to refresh the tired old lunchbox.
I avoid the kitchen for the most part but, now my kitchen has been remodeled, I’ve been feeling a bit more inspired… Maybe this was the challenge I needed to tempt my inner Domestic Goddess to reveal herself in all her glory?
So last week I tried to mix things up and think of a few novel ways to us the Smartbite range of health foods from Clicks in our daily lunchboxes. And what do you know… I actually came up with some good options AND my kids were beyond excited about their more interesting lunchboxes too. So much so that (almost) all of the items were finished instead of being returned to the bin at home!
Healthy Lunch Box Ideas
So what worked in my quest to create Healthy Lunch Boxes for Kids?
Firstly, involving my kids in the process was a huge component of the success. They LOVED helping me to conceptualize what we were going to make with the Smartbite products and were full of ideas (some not all that helpful, but they tried!)
Secondly, getting them to measure and mix the ingredients got them to buy into the products we were making and made them even more excited to try them out!
and, Thirdly, making healthy snacks that tasted great was a win!
Here are 3 recipes that we created together using ingredients from the pre-packed health food Smartbite range at Clicks
Rooibos, Cranberry, Seed & Almond Bread (Makes 1 loaf)
We used the Smartbite premix for a seed & almond loaf and added our own unique take on it by adding cranberries and using Rooibos tea instead of the Buttermilk suggested on the packet. Otherwise we followed the recipe on the back of the pack changing out the Olive Oil for the Flax Seed Oil and lining the loaf pan with the Smartbite Coconut Oil! Remember to set the oven to 180C before you start.
1 Smartbite premix seed & almond loaf
1 cup Smartbite cranberries
30ml Smartbite Flax Seed Oil
1 cup Rooibos tea
10ml Smartbite Coconut Oil (to grease loaf tin)
Beat the eggs and Rooibos tea and oil together, add the premix and cranberries and pour into the greased loaf pan.
Bake on 180C for approx 40 mins. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the tin before moving to a cooling rack.
Dark Chocolate & Banana biscuits (Makes 15)
For this snack we followed the recipe provided on the Clicks Smartbite website. These deliciously healthy biscuits were easy and quick to make and disappeared in a flash. As they do contain cocoa and fructose you could probably squeeze one in to a lunch box on treat day or keep them for tea time at home but the majority of the ingredients are super healthy. Remember to set the over to 180C before you start
2 small bananas (mashed)
1/2 cup Smartbite sugar free dark chocolate (finely chopped)
3 Tbs Smartbite fructose powder
4 Tbs cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups Smartbite gluten-free oats
1/2 cup Smartbite almond flour
60ml sunflower oil
Mash the bananas then add all the other ingredients and mix. Use your (clean) hands to roll into 15 balls and place these on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Flatten them slightly but ensure they don’t touch each other.
Bake on 180C for approx 15 mins – 18 mins (until firm). Allow to cool for a few minutes in the tin before moving to a cooling rack.
Chickpea Salad (Makes 6 portions)
This was the first recipe we wanted to make but then we opened the chickpeas and discovered you need to soak them overnight! Fail. So we set them aside in a pot of water to soak until the next morning and then prepped the rest of the salad and dressing so we could toss it all together quickly before school. The packet recommends boiling the chickpeas for another 2 hours after soaking but we actually just used them raw and it was great – just a little bit more crunchy 😉
2 cups Smartbite chickpeas (soaked overnight & then boiled for 2 hours)
1 yellow or red bell pepper (chopped)
1 red onion (finely diced)
3 sticks of celery with leaves (finely chopped)
2 blocks of feta cheese (chopped) *this is optional, you can remove it if you’re vegan
3 Tbs Smartbite flaxseed oil
2 Tbs red onion vinegar
3 Tbs rosemary (finely chopped)
1 clove of garlic (minced or finely chopped)
salt & pepper to taste
Soak the chickpeas overnight. In a bowl mix the oil, vinegar, rosemary, garlic and salt and pepper for the dressing. Add the remaining ingredients including the soaked (or cooked) chickpeas and mix. You can adapt this recipe and add in different vegetables should you wish such as tomatoes or beetroot etc.
You’ll be pleased to know that all these recipes are in fact suitable for those following the following diets…. Vegetarian (provided you remove the feta from the last recipe), Wheat free, Gluten free, Dairy free and Refined sugar free! And they were all delicious. Even my husband snuck some of our Chickpea salad for work the next day and couldn’t stop raving out it… might be because I NEVER pack him a lunchbox. Seriously, who does that???
Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids
Other items I added to the lunch boxes from the Smartbite range included:
- Smartbite Rice crackers with Smartbite Almond Nut Butter
- Smartbite Unsalted Assorted Nuts
- Smartbite Dried Cranberries
- Smartbite Unsalted Cashew Nuts
- Smartbite Seed Crackers
Of course I realised that there was a bit of “colour” missing from this lunch box so I threw in a few fresh items too – cucumber, baby tomatoes, fresh fruit, celery and carrot sticks are all easy ways to ensure your kids “eat the rainbow” at school too!
All were great hits! I’m officially winning at healthy lunch boxes for my kids…. This week 😉 Let’s hope my inspiration continues, and their enthusiasm!
Find the Smartbite range of health food at your local Clicks stores. Bonus is that I’ve found them on their 3 for 2 special before which means you can buy 3 bags of items for the price of the cheapest 2!!
Images: Kathryn Rossiter