When my daughter started pre-school last September the thing she was most excited about was her lunch. Ironically, this was also the thing I was least excited about. Making a packed lunch regularly was never going to make it to the top of my list of favourite things to do with my time.
This is her this time last year, on her first day at pre-school. The night before I’d made her a packed lunch to take with her. It was my first foray into the realm of lunchboxes and it’s fair to say I didn’t enjoy making it. Call me a bad mother, but I think there are SO many things more exciting than putting together a packed lunch.
Over the year, however, my hatred of the packed lunch softened. So much so, in fact, that this year I will kind of miss them. Frog starts school next week and, like lots of youngsters, she’ll be making the most of the new government scheme offering all children in Reception up to Year 2 free school meals. Mind you, she’s already announced that she may change her mind and have packed lunches if the school dinners aren’t up to scratch – and that’s fine by me.
Mornings are busy in our house. Once we’ve got past the tooth brushing battles and dramas over which pants to wear (and that’s just me), we inevitably hit a wall with choosing breakfast or wanting to watch TV. And with a new baby on the way, I know things are going to get even busier. So if Frog does decide she wants a packed lunch then it’ll need to be made the night before. But the night before I will also have work to do, a baby to settle and – at some point – sleep to catch up on. That means I don’t have twenty minutes to faff about with a packed lunch.
Packed lunch solutions that have helped me:
Stocking up on little packets of healthy treats helped me hugely. For example, Frog loves the Organix range of rice cakes and dried fruit packets. It takes approximately one second to grab one of these packets from the cupboard and chuck it into a lunchbox.
Leftovers are your friend. Whenever I made pasta I would always keep a little to one side and then put it in a pot with some chopped up tomatoes, cucumber, grated cheese and ham or tuna. Sometimes I’d make a big batch of it and use it a couple of days in a row, or have it for my own lunch too.
Ditto for tortilla wraps. Fajitas are a favourite meal in our house and we always end up with the odd unloved wrap leftover. Throw in some grated cheese, salad and any leftover cooked chicken from the meal and you’ve got a ready-made wrap sandwich for next day’s packed lunch. (By the way, there’s a great recipe for a cheddar and grated courgette wrap on the Organix website, if you’re that way inclined.)
I’m sure there are a million more ways you can save time making quick packed lunches, without compromising on the healthy aspect. For more ideas check out the #NoJunk challenge over at Organix, as they ask us to take a closer look at what our kids are eating and cut out the rubbish.
Have you got any good tips for making tasty packed lunches at high speed?
Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Organix.