100 Kids Healthy Lunch Ideas

Ever feel like after a few weeks into the school year, suddenly your enthusiasm for making lunches wanes?  I start off, full of good intentions and enthusiasm and after a week or two I am back to vegemite sandwiches and a yoghurt.  With two lunches to make this year, and a picky eater, I decided to make a list of ideas for their bento style lunch boxes, to offer variety, inspire me and to hopefully introduce some new items into their food repotoire!

I have written before about how I plan the kids lunches.  Using our lunchbox planner, I I make sure they have a variety of Protein, Calcium, Grains and Fruit and Veg.  I have used this same format to record my ideas in a table.  

Every school has it’s own food requirements and restrictions especially when it comes to nuts, eggs and dairy so check your schools handbook before packing lunch. 

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 6.32.32 AM

 I am printing this out, laminating it and attaching it to the inside of my pantry.

You could even use a whiteboard marker to cross of foods they have had that week or to highlight some form each list that you know will be a winner! 

Simply Download and Print [download id=”12″]

Feel free to share the lunchbox love with your friends! 

Delicious Bento Lunch Ideas

 Let it be known, I am the mother of THE PICKIEST EATER.  Little Miss A started out well and as a baby would eat anything that came her way, but somewhere after the age of 18 months we found our selves with a child living off vegemite sandwiches and air.  

I do have hope.  Master O was actually much the same until he started Kindy.  Suddenly with an increase in activity, his appetite increased!  He also went to a Kindergarden with a strict RUBBISH FREE lunchbox policy.  Lunches had to be rubbish free in every sense of the word, no plastic wrap or packaged food and no junk food!  I was even sent a note home, in trouble for sending  in blueberry muffins!   But suddenly he wanted healthy food.  Everyone else was eating it and peer pressure in its finest form kicked in.  I now had requests for sultanas, carrot sticks and sushi! We started making our first Bento Lunches and never looked back.  

Our bento lunches are really just package free food in compartments.  I don’t get fancy and haven’t until now bought special cutters or food picks.  Little Miss A loves looking at pictures of  the fancy shaped lunches (especially the Hello Kitty ones) so I am going to give a few a try this year.

So for some inspiration…….

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 5.43.57 AM

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 5.27.46 AM

From The Yumbox Blog, co founder Maia created this yummy bento lunch.

SUSHI!  This one is especially for master O who not only devours Sushi but cucumber too!  I have never thought to cut it into little sticks before.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 5.28.16 AM

Another great lunch from the Yumbox blog

PASTA.  Both kids love pasta and will eat it in any shape or form.  This opens up a whole heap of grain opportunities.  I am thinking pasta teddies, ravioli and macaroni.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 5.28.02 AM

From Another Lunch. One of the first Bento Blogs I ever read!

Salami.  I always think ham and chicken for Protein but Salami would be a winner for both children.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 5.28.28 AM

From Wendolonia. This is the best BENTO blog! This is where I first read about the Yumbox!

RICE.  When all else fails we cook Little Miss A some rice.  Bento supplies often have rice moulds and I would love to give these a try.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 5.28.49 AM

When the mamabelly family became interested in a household rabbit, the lunches followed the theme of the children’s interests! What a brilliant idea!

Bunnies!!!!  Remember her Bunny Birthday?  Just maybe this will be the way to get her to eat carrots? 

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 5.29.09 AM

Another bento from Wendolonia. I love that she calls the sliced carrots, carrot coins!

Popcorn!  Actually counted as a grain!  Who doesnt love popcorn!

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 5.29.32 AM

From Ladybug Lunches. Fantastic reviews and great lunch ideas for a picky little ladybug!

Those little flower hams would be gobbled up in a second.  Master O loves corn but I have never thought of putting it in a lunch box.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 5.30.13 AM

This is cuteness extreme from Bent On Better Lunches.

Lady bugs, this would be the envy of the Kindy playground!  Way too cute for words and such simple but effective ideas.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 5.32.17 AM

Another Bent On Better Lunches Bento! This is a yumbox tray out of the yumbox!

Take any slice/biscuit/muffin and use a cookie cutter to cut it into a heart and it instantly looks appetising! 

I truly believe by supplying small portions of many different foods, in a creative and fun way, that my picky eater may just try something new!  

All of these Bento’s are created in the Yumbox lunchbox and can be found (along with many more!) on my Pinterest boards.

Meal Plan and Shopping List Template

Although the house is a bustle with Christmas elves and activities, normal life must continue!

That includes doing the grocery shopping! 

I did say many months ago I would share my new meal plan and shopping list template so here it is!

This may not be suitable for everyone but this is our go to list and template that suits our family! 

Enjoy! 

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 6.15.06 AM

[download id=”11″]

Planning School Lunches

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 6.50.37 PM

Bento Lunch from Meet The Dubiens

When Master O started Kindy, we became all kinds of desperate to develop a plan of attack for lunch boxes.  I suddenly felt overwhelmed by the restrictions of what he was allowed to take, what he would actually eat and providing variety. After some trial and error we developed a printable plan to ensure variety, organisation and that he was getting a great combination of proteins, calcium, grains, fruit and veggies.

So just like we plan meals in this house we also plan what is going into the lunch box each day for the week ahead.

I have shared our planning template before but here is another sneak peek.

 

At the bottom of this plan is also a few lines to add your shopping list too.  I print this out in A5 size so I can fit two plans to an A4 sheet of paper.

On the Lunch Box plan this week:

Grains;

Monday, Wednesday, Friday – Nutri Grain (dry in a small container)

Tuesday, Thursday – Meusli Bar

Plus the grains found in wraps and bread rolls 

Proteins;

Monday, Wednesday – Ham (with Salad in a wrap)

Tuesday – Chicken (Chicken Parma bread roll) I buy those little bread rolls from woolworths, they are a little bigger than a dinner roll.  I keep them in the freezer and heat for about 6 minutes before making them.

Thursday – Boiled Egg (as a snack)

Friday – Pork (Home made hot dog with sausage leftover)

Calcium

Monday,  Wednesday – Squeezie yoghurt

Tuesday – Diced Cheese

Thursday and Friday – Tzatziki Dip (With Carrot, Celery and Bread sticks)

Fruit and Vegies

Monday, Wednesday, Friday – Strawberries and Diced Apples

Thursday – Vegie Sticks (as above with dip!)

Tuesday – Cherry tomatoes (with the diced cheese on toothpicks)

The Ham and Salad Wraps also have Lettuce/Carrot /Tomato/Cucumber on them!

Left Overs For Lunch

Where possible I tie this plan in with our Weekly Meal Plan.  For example, Monday night we are having Chicken Parmiagina so the left overs will go on a bread roll the next day.  Wednesday night the menu consists of Lamb Souvlaki, the left over tzatziki is a great as a veggie dipper in the next days lunch box! Thursday night we are having a bbq so a left over sausage becomes Friday’s Hotdog. 

Hidden Heros

Adding a simple salad on to the ham wrap means my reluctant regular salad eater devours carrot and cucumber! By getting creative with the cherry tomatoes and cheese cubes on a toothpick skewer, he is getting antioxidants, calcium and protein!

Want to get those lunches organised? 

 Download the BLANK LUNCHBOX PLANNER and get planning! 

While your there you will find some lunchbox plans already created for you! 

Happy Lunching!

 

 

 

A Sparkly Festive Season with Riccadonna

As the school year drew to a close and the festive season was nipping at our heals, my friends and I decided we desperately needed to get together to celebrate and debrief, the year that was 2012.  That is one of my favourite things about the festive season.  It provides plenty of opportunities and excuses to celebrate with family and friends!

Just as we were organising dates and venues (my place) an email arrived.  From who else but RICCADONNA!  Seriously I kid you not!  They were hoping that I could “Taste Test” a few of their varieties of wine!  Who am I to begrudge them my professional opinion on all things wine? But of course I will need some assistance to perform such a task.  So call the girls, lets have a taste test party!

Yes I could have just invited the girls over, thrown the bottles on the table and tasted away, after all as busy working mums we just appreciate any time to enjoy a wine together.   But I had been wanting to try so many versions of wine and champagne cocktails and this was the perfect time to do it!

The Featured Guests – Asti, Allegra, Rose

We had three RICCADONNA ladies to work with.  Asti, Allegra and Rose.   With some simple ingredients added to the table we had our very own Wine Cocktail bar!

Drinks Bar is open! 

I set this up on our dining table away from little fingers.  I placed the glasses on one end, then drinks and then some little additive extras. How on earth I have lost the ice buckets is beyond me but this would definitely work better with the wine in ice!  This way guests can create their own favourite cocktail.  We included

  • Strawberries
  • Mixed Berries
  • Berry Granita(Simply blend a cup of your favourite berries
  • with two teaspoons of sugar and freeze)
  • Mint
  • Orange Juice
  • Wild Hibiscus Flowers (these are available at your local liquor store and dress up any drink)
Be sure to include tongs or spoons for each selection and if your super organised label each selection.  I added tacky but cute Christmas wine glass charms! Although we loved adding a few of these ingredients to our drink I had some other great reader and guest suggestions; 
  • Lemon Sorbet
  • Lime Slices
  • Mango Sorbet
  • Fairy Floss!
  • A sugar cube with a drop of bitters on it 
  • Pomegranate
So what was the verdict?

Wild Hibiscus Champagne Cocktail with mint leaves, easy!

ASTI – a light, fruity and naturally sweet sparkling wine.
The sweetest of the three, this has been a long time favourite of mine.  It is refreshingly sweet, but be warned it goes down a little too easily and quickly! I love mine just on it’s own or with a wild hibiscus flower in the bottom for special occasions.
ROSE – a light red, sparkling, fruity wine that make the perfect accompaniment to sweet treats and special celebrations. This was the favourite of guests!  It is sweet, light and perfect for anyone who loves a bit of pink in their life.  Perfect with strawberries but to be honest I loved this one just as it is!  This was my Christmas day drink of choice and was perfect for a glass by the pool. 

Champagne Strawberry Sorbet Recipe from Eat Drink Love.com

ALLEGRA – an elegant, full-bodied semi-dry sparkling wine (because you’re sweet enough just as you are!) full of fruity and floral aromas.  I love a sweet wine but if that’s not for you, Allegra is.  This was delicious served with a berry granita! Simply place a teaspoon or two of the granita in the bottom and then top with Ruby!  This also helped keeps our drinks cold a little longer on an unbearably hot Summers day.  
 
 
These three wines have become good friends of ours over the festive season and we have the Asti chilling as I speak ready for New Years celebrations, aka a night in with the family at home! 
What is your favourite wine or champagne cocktail suggestion?
I was gifted these bottles from the Riccadonna range, but was in no way paid for my opinion.  All “taste testing” was done by myself and guests for FREE!!! 

Day 5 ~ Marshmallow Magic ~ My Christmas Elf Cooking

Soft and Sugary and Sweet the Elf is ready to play a little Marshmallow Magic!  Little Marshmallows make a perfect sugary bubble bath for your elf!  This series is not just about learning but about fun too!  So time to get into some christmas cooking!

 

“Soft and white and oh so sweet

These little goodies are so nice to eat!

But they make an even better bath

Dry me off and please don’t laugh!”

The elf is found having a bath in a bowl full of Marshmallows!  Or maybe he is head first inside a packet of marshmallows with some scattered around the packet!

 

What you will need:

  • Marshmallows in varying sizes
  • Recipe Card (PRINTABLE)
  • Fruit
  • Skewers

 

  • Ask children if they know what the marshmallows are! 
  • Sitting down in a circle give each child a marshmallow
  • Ask each child to take a turn to say one word that describes the marshmallow
  • Ask them to use their senses.  They can smell it, squeeze it, taste it, look at it!  Is it soft, sweet, pink, white, small, round, big, small.  Try not to repeat any words!  If you like you can record their answers!
  • Now look at the recipe card.  For younger students don’t tell them it is a recipe and read out the card.
  • Ask them to guess what it is!  A letter, a poster, a postcard?  A recipe!!!
  • Look at the different features of a recipe.
  • Now lets get cooking! Well creating at least as this recipe requires no cooking! In fact if you pre cut the fruit yourself it also involves no knives !


CHECK IF ANY CHILDREN HAVE ALLERGIES BEFORE UNDERTAKING THIS ACTIVITY

Recipe Card Marshmallow Skewers

 Want to really get creative?  Set their imaginations alight with mini skewers for the elf!

Copy the recipe above but use toothpicks and mini mallows!  They make a great lunchbox treat too!

This activity is really for fun but if you HAVE to find the learning in it…..

Maths: Quantities, conversions, addition (You will always find these concepts in cooking!)

English: Exploring a new “text type” and its features! (A Recipe)

This sweet treat has quickly become an after school favourite in our house!
I just know your kids will love it too!

Attacking the Grocery Shopping!

It could be the wonky shopping trolley, the temper tantrum throwing children or the ridiculous price of groceries, there is a lot to loathe about grocery shopping.  But I am afraid I am one of those weird people that actually enjoy shopping. Any kind of shopping.  Yep even for pumpkin, pasta and washing powder.  

Yesterday I posted this Instagram photo on the My Pigeon Pair Facebook page…

Armed with my reusable shopping bags, my weapon of choice (a clipboard holding my menu plan and shopping list) and fuelled by a mega mocha caramel latte, I attacked the grocery shopping in Mumma on a mission style.  

This is how I shop.

1. List Lover. I ALWAYS SHOP WITH A LIST AND A PLAN.  If you take nothing else away form this blog post PLEASE take this.  It saves you money, time and gives you the confidence to speed through the shops knowing that you are prepared and can get exactly what you need!  I have posted more about my Meal Plan and Shopping List HERE.  basically

  • On one side I write my seven meals for the week.  
  • Next to each meal I write the ingredients I will need
  • On the right side I have a standard list of items that I need to buy every week that I highlight if I need them and then tick off as I go.
2. Lets get Local. Yes thats say local not loco, all though there have been many times that I have shopped with children that I think I may be crazy!  I ALWAYS SHOP LOCALLY. I am a creature of habit and find it much easier to shop at the shops I know and love.  I am especially spoilt as I have  Aldi, Woolworths, Big W and a Dollar Store all at the same shopping centre less than 3 minutes from my house.  Why Local?  
  • I know where everything is located in the store (Saves time)
  • I know which stores offers which products I need and at the cheapest price (Saves Money)
  • I like to support my local businesses!  Even if it is the big chain stores I like being able to get to know the deli lady (Yes I am strange.)
3. Love it.  I make it enjoyable.   I am usually shopping with at least one child in tow.  Unfortunately it is usually the same child that hates shopping, sitting in trolleys, or listening to her mother.  So I make a game of it, I enjoy a coffee whilst we shop, I ask her to find me items and yes occasionally you will find my trolley abandoned as I run through the aisles trying to catch her, but hey whats a Mum to do! We shop once a week, so I may as well enjoy it!
So my plan of attack is;
  1. Go armed with everything you need. My List is attached to a clipboard with a pen (the clipboard pictured above is one I amde myself using a plain clipboard and adding some scrapbooking paper.  The board is good as it gives me somewhere to right and lean up against.  I also use the list to write down prices to compare at different stores. Take snacks and drinks for children!
  2. I take these great bags (pictured above) to sort my shopping as I go.  They attach to the outside of your trolley with velcro.  I use one for fresh/meat items and one for dry goods.
  3. I go to Aldi first.  It is by far the cheapest so I get as much as I can from there.  Generally it is longlife, dry goods (like biscuits, pasta, side dishes, spices, sauces, tea, coffee)  Baby things (Nappies and wipes) Dairy (Milk, Custard Yoghurt, Cheese) Essentials (Bread, Baking, Eggs).
  4. I then shop at Woolworths for meat and fresh produce.  It is not cheaper than Aldi but I like the variety!
  5. I then go to Big W or a Dollar Store for Cleaning goods, office supplies etc. (See the Meal Planning 101 post about my monthly shopping)
Questions from you;
Why don’t supermarkets have supervised play areas??? Now that would be a blessing for all parents!!! Jaqui.
I know that especially during school holidays some shopping centres do offer a supervised play area!  Ok so don’t hate me BUT….Our local shopping centre as well as great shops  has a fantastic playground!  I use it as bribery to get the kids to behave whilst I do the shopping.  Nag me for something? No playground!
When you see reduced meat at the supermarket I am struggling to work out what the price per kilo would be at the reduced price. Any ideas on how to work it out?? Jenny
It depends if it is priced with just a reduced sticker?  Just take the price and divide it by the number of grams/kilos.  This should give you a price per gram/kilo that is easier to compare to other similar products.
What order do you fill your trolley? Any tips on a quicker way to get in and out without walking every aisle & not missing something? Jessica
Using my separating bags I dont really need to worry too much about the order!  The best way to save time and aisles is to follow point one and two above!  Take a list.  Only buy what is on the list.  Shop where you know the aisles you can avoid.
How do you learn to like grocery shopping? I dislike it with a passion! Sharna
Coffee makes everything better!  Or turn it into a game (I know that sounds childish) but I actually enjoy trying to save money and find the best deals.  As a working Mum I also see it as time with my kids!  
Even though you pay a delivery fee, is online delivered shopping better, more efficient & actually a saving? Or is it better to get in there & just do it! Gabby
I have used online shopping before.  Especially when I had a newborn, was sick, recovering from an operation or had a big a party to cater (nothing like someone else carrying 20 bottles of softdrink for you!) But for my day to day shopping I prefer to do it myself. Why?
  1. I do most my shopping at Aldi and they don’t deliver
  2. I like to see what is reduced in price.
  3. I like the variety of seeing many different products.
  4. I like to have my products when I want them, I can’t wait around at home waiting for them to be delivered!  I am usually at the shops to get something else anyway! I may as well get the groceries!
BUT I love that when you shop online you can see how much you are spending whilst you are shopping. As the little list calculates your total it is easy to see what you do or don’t really need.  I think this could save you money.  Also if you do it regularly you can save your previous shopping lists.  This could save time!  I think it really is a personal preference!
Do you use a paper list, or an iPhone app? Is so, which apps would you recommend? Oh, and how do you formulate your list? Do you have standard items that you start with every time? Lisa
I use a paper list.  I am a traditionalist.  You can find my shopping list HERE.  I do love the woolworths app and had a little too much fun scanning things in my pantry! BUT you cant scan everything!  I like to have my meal plan with me as well so paper works best for me!  I have both meal items and standard itmes on my list.
What is the best time to shop to get things like reduced meats and bakery items, and how do you get through the shop without a million people wanting to stop for a chat??? I always see someone I know… Jacqui
Finding reduced items is like finding a needle in a haystack!  Because shops are now generally open 12 hours a day, 7 days a week there is no one time they reduce items!  I have recently discovered though at my local woolworths that there is a reduced items section near the yoghurt in the fridge section!  It had cheese, custard, yoghurt, deli meats etc all reduced because they were close to expiry.   As for stopping for a chat…..NO IDEA!  My middle name is “have a chat” so when you figure that one out let me know!
What do you do when things don’t go to plan. This week I planned the whole week of meals and did my grocery shop. While I was shopping my little one got her hand caught in the door and off to the hospital my husband when (no dinner) then my oldest got gastro (again no dinner), hubby ended up working late each night (no dinner). I have all of this food in the fridge and no one is eating!! Kimberley
If it is meat…I freeze everything and only get out (in the morning) what I need that night.  Life happens you can never be prepared for the unexpected! Get creative turn old bananas into banana cake, vegies and eggs into quiches and frittatas that can be frozen.  When it rains it pours and it sounds like you had a bad food week flood!
So now armed with your plan of attack and shopping tactics, go forward and shop.  
But just not today as it is Friday the 13th.  
Shoppers today beware as you will be destined for wonky trolleys, tantruming toddlers and children that use the aisles as there own private obstacle course or even worse toilet. Don’t laugh. True Story.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

TOP “My Pigeon Pair” Organising Projects – VOTE NOW!

If I could turn back time…..I would have accomplished all these organising projects years ago!  I know which ones have been the most time consuming, the most life changing and the most painful but I want to know what you think!!!  Which one is your favourite?  Which one inspired you the most?  Which one would you love to tackle in your house?

So hit me with it!  Here are the top organising posts…..leave a comment on this blog post or on our Facebook page letting me know which one you love!!

THE SCHOOL FILE IT FOLDER

THE SCHOOL STATION

THE PANTRY

 THE BATHROOM

THE BAG

THE ORGANISATION STATION

 THE KIDS WARDROBE

 THE MEAL PLAN AND SHOPPING LIST

 THE LUNCHBOX PLAN

 

THE CAR STATION

 

Which one is your favourite??  Sharing is caring!!!

Meal Planning Menu Boards!

We LOVE meal planning!  It saves us time, money and our sanity!  Our current meal planning system is working BUT it could always be better!  We have the concept down pat, but I need a better way of rotating meals and displaying the finished weekly list! Look at how these clever Mum’s have solved that problem….


Source: bhg.com via Larissa on Pinterest

 

                          Source: bhg.com via Larissa on Pinterest

 

                                                                                                                                        Source: ohsochichi.blogspot.com via Larissa on Pinterest


 

 

Naturally the last one in all it OCD organising glory is my favourite but who am I kidding I don’t have time to create that!!!

I am thinking maybe the peg idea added to my current clipboard system? Print out some of our regular and new recipes and then peg them onto the clipboard?

Will let you know how I go, but don’t hold your breath…it’s school holidays and I am too busy mediating fights over easter eggs and it’s not even Easter yet!!!

Linking up with

Tina Gray {dot} Me

Meal Planning Monday

I have said it before, but I will say it again…..meal planning has saved our life!  We are saving time, money, frustration, disorganisation and the forever 5pm question of what are we having for dinner?

With that said…..here is the weeks meal plan!

If that sounds good to you…feel free to download and print it HERE!

For many more inspirational meal ideas check out who else is linking up with…

 
The Organised Housewife