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Welcome back. We’re kicking off 2023 with all-new lunchbox-friendly recipes. We’re talking about delicious, nutritious and nut-free lunch options to tempt fussy eaters and adventurous foodies alike.  We’ve also sourced some handy resources with everything you need to know when it comes to keeping your fresh produce fresh. Lunch boxes at the ready! Let’s explore the world of lunch.

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In praise of the humble – and not so-humble – sandwich

In the age of social media, it can feel like everyone is bringing a photogenic bento box with a variety of gorgeous snacks to school. But according to pediatric dieticians, it’s possible we have all been overthinking lunch.  

“Instead of cute, trendy and popular, a lunch box should be practical, affordable and include some healthy options that your child will actually eat…  If [their] child is happy to eat a cheese and Vegemite sandwich on wholegrain bread every day of the week, that’s perfectly fine.” (Source: ABC News)

However, if you do fancy something more adventurous on the sandwich front, there are plenty of combos to keep sandwiches exciting. Kids and teens love the slightly sweet yet earthy sandwich combo of cream cheese, sultanas, grated carrot and baby spinach. Or perhaps the New York Times favourite Ham and Jam sandwich (yes, really) is more up your alley? If you have access to a sandwich toaster, try BBC Food’s sensational Tahini, Feta and Honey Toastie.

Savoury Muffins

A savoury muffin is a handheld conduit for all kinds of nutritious ingredients that might be rejected if they came in sandwich form. Add in some oats and ricotta, and you have lunch to fuel a busy day of teaching and learning – all eaten in just a few mouthfuls. For inspiration, try this list of 30 tried and true recipes from Women’s Weekly or try Donna Hay’s Pizza Muffins for a lunch that won’t be coming home uneaten at the end of the day – they can be frozen for up to three months too. Besides, everybody loves a muffin.

Pro tip: peel zucchinis if you’re using them. The skin can be bitter, and it also disguises the greens.

Salads and more

For those who don’t feel tempted by sandwiches, salads are a brilliant way to get maximum bang for your nutritional buck at lunchtime. 

Pasta salads rule when it comes to lunchboxes. It’s also a handy way of using up any extra pasta you have prepared from dinner the night before. If you need inspiration, try this recipe which has been designed for kids to follow. Or keep it simple with pesto and some shredded chicken or veggies. If pasta salad is destined for a child’s lunchbox, invite them to create their own version of pasta salad. Studies show kids are more likely to eat something they have made themselves.

 Rice salads are another winner for salad fans and those eschewing sandwiches. This can be as simple as rice combined with veggies and/tinned fish – condiments optional. If you enjoy meal prep and the feeling that comes from having four serves of lunches prepped, something like this chicken rice salad with green goddess dressing is for you.

Plant-based lunches

Two words: Veggie burgers. Veggie burgers are a popular go-to meal when it comes to BBQs and gatherings, but they are a valuable addition to your lunchbox repertoire too. They tick so many boxes: they can be prepped ahead, served in a variety of ways, are packed full of nutritious ingredients and are loved by all. Serve in pita pockets, wraps, as handheld finger food… the world is your burger bar. The BBC Good Food site is worth a visit if you need inspiration with an absolute treasure trove of veggie burgers recipes all collected in the one list. 

Snacks are important.

Whether you are a student or a teacher, snacks are an important way to keep fuelled up and ready for anything the school day can throw at you. A tasty bliss ball is an easy prep ahead option. Apricot delight balls, raspberry coconut balls or honey muesli balls are all school-friendly options to try. These quick and easy peach-ricotta vanilla bean muffins use canned peaches and ricotta to create a sweet treat that serves up a good dose of protein and calcium at the same time.   

How to store fresh produce

It’s safe to say we’re all feeling very conscious about making the most of our fresh produce at the moment. Here are two fantastic resources with all the intel you need to keep fruit and veg in tip-top shape for longer – including a viral clip (4.7 million views on TikTok!) showing how to keep your berries fresh.

  • Nicole Keshishian Modic (aka Kale Junkie) is passionate about food prep and storing fresh produce to ensure longevity. Some of her tips on the linked slide include how to prevent chopped apples from browning for up to five days, how to keep berries and lettuce fresh for up to two weeks, and how to keep chopped herbs for a month.
  • The Wirecutter has created a well-researched piece on how to store produce. Head to the bottom of the article for a handy chart that shows the optimal storage option for a range of fruit and veg.

Wishing you all a great start to Term 1. 

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