Planning School Lunches


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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.

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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:


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

Tuesday, Thursday – Meusli Bar

Plus the grains found in wraps and bread rolls 


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)


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!




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! 

You can now find this template in my ETSY SHOP

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Simply follow this link to purchase. 


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!!













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: via Larissa on Pinterest


                          Source: via Larissa on Pinterest


                                                                                                                                        Source: 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… 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

School Lunches. The Good, The Bad and The Plan!

It feels like I am always on the hunt for something!  This weekend I was swooping on some clever Bento lunch ideas.  Boy did I find a treasure trove of ideas!  Amongst them was a guide as to what consists of a healthy lunch.  

- Insert soap box here! – If you don’t want to read my rant feel free to turn away now!

As a teacher I have directly been involved in the consequences of a child not eating a healthy lunch (or breakfast).  They can become hyperactive on a sugar high only to crash and be irritable, tired and struggling to concentrate.  But it’s not just about sugar.  It’s preservatives, additives, colours, flavours  and all those numbers!  It is easy to fill a lunch box with a handful of prepackaged  snacks and a sandwich with spread.  But easy for who?  Not easy for your child’s body and brain, not easy for their teacher, not easy for the environment and not easy for your finances!

I am not a health freak, my kids have eaten McDonald’s on way too many occasions, have had everything that comes in a chocolate variety and eaten more than their fair share of sweets.  But I draw the line at sending a lunch box full of prepackaged food to school.  

So with that in mind this year I am going to try something new when thinking about school lunches.  

  • Where possible I am going to make Bento style lunch boxes (minus the creativity!)
  • I will plan to have a variety of grains, protein, calcium and fruit and veggies in every lunchbox
  • Once a week a sweet treat
  • Once a week a juice or milk drink
  • I will not use glad wrap!
  • I will buy in bulk and separate in to my own smaller containers instead of buying little packets of things.
  • I will be organised!
With all that in mind I have made a new lunchbox planner to go with my meal plan!

Here is a peek  

 In the right hand column I am going to write the date and any other information such as special day at school, events, anything to take into consideration.  The rest of the form is then divided into 4 columns for each type of food group.  This way I am sure that I don’t leave anything out!  This year will be the first time I have 5 days of child lunches to plan and 2 days of adult lunches! It is great being able to see all the lunches for the week!

What do you think?  

Have you planned lunch boxes before?  Would you like a downloadable blank plan to fill out? 

Share the love, leave me a comment! 

Linking up with

The Organised Housewife

Meal Planning 101

 We have now been meal planning for more than six months!  I have to admit we have been a bit relaxed about meal planning during the holidays (read too relaxed to do much of anything!) but we are now gearing up to get back on track.  We have had more time during the holidays to think about our meals and shop at the last minute but we have noticed our grocery bill skyrocket!  I mean triple the amount we usually spend!!!

So now my tips for meal planning.  I know I have published them before but due to the number of requests here they are AGAIN!!!

1. 7 Days of Creation.  
For us it is a strictly 7 day plan.  I can’t think that far ahead and grocery shopping with two children in tow means that a weeks worth of groceries already takes us two hours!

2. Don’t just think dinners.  
I try and plan it so that Wednesday’s and Thursday’s dinner meals are left over worthy so that I can take them for lunch the following day.  This has meant we are saving a further $10-15 a week on lunches!

3.  Kids Menu. 
 I try to plan meals that are easy for children to eat or can easily be altered, it saves cooking two different dinners!

4.  Make it Mondays.  
Our grocery store pamphlets arrive Sunday’s.  They are loaded with specials that inspire many ideas and they often have recipes and meal suggestions inside!  Our woolworths has it’s specials starting on a Monday. Hence I plan on Sunday and shop on Monday’s.

5.  Shop around.  
Ok so it is not as convenient BUT…we have Aldi, Woolworths and a Dollar Store at our local shopping centre.  After a month of shopping I know which products are cheaper at each store! I generally start at Aldi, then Woolworths.  I can’t rave about Aldi enough especially after this week they announced they will be removing all products with artificial colours from the shelves!
6. Do not shop without your plan and list.
We have all read about how much extra money you spend when you shop without a list.  Now times that saving by two for a plan and a list!  When you have a plan you only buy what is on the plan.  No vegetables rotting in the bottom of the fridge because you bought them without a purpose!

We have developed a Monthly Plan for household shopping.  
We were living with a horrible cycle of everything running out at once! 
Toilet paper, cleaning products, toiletries it would be a huge budget blowout, we would stock up again to face a month later that everything had run out at the same time…AGAIN!  so…..
on my meal plan and shopping List printable you will notice a lack of “BIG” items.  It works like this…..
Each month is divided into 4 weeks.  Each week we have a designated “Monthly Items Shop” This way we can also save money by buying in bulk and never run out of the necessities like toilet paper!

Monthly Items -
Week 1 – Toiletries – Toilet Paper, Shampoo & Conditioner, Soap, Baby Bath, Tissues, Hair Colour, Personal Care etc
Week 2 – Cleaning – Dishwashing liquid and tablets, Spray and Wipe, Sponges, Air Freshener, Blue Loo
Week 3 – Household – Washing powder, batteries, lightbulbs, fly spray, stationery,
Week 4 – Kitchen – Glad Wrap, Paper Towel, Serviettes, Alfoil, Snap lock bags, Sugar, Flour etc
The key to making the monthly shop work is really thiking ahead.  After 1 month of sticking to it you get an idea of exactly what quantities of each item you require to last the month.
So where do you keep all of these plans and lists?
I have created our very own meal plan and shopping list.

Even better you can download the Meal Plan and Shopping List HERE

Here is mine for the week.  I use the spaces on the left to fill out what is for lunch AND dinner each day.  In a few weeks we will be back into the school and work lunches routine.  We are preparing now by thinking about how we can best use our grocery shopping and dinners to also to provide lunches.  

The next space is a place to write down the shopping items needed for that particular meal.  The final column is our weekly shopping list, with a little space down the bottom for other shopping, this week its a storage container and contact.

For us meal planning has saved us time, money and sanity.  But it’s more about what it gives me.  The satisfaction knowing my family are eating healthy meals, I feel organised and on top of things, well the meals at least!!!

Do you meal plan?  Would you like to try? If you need inspiration check out the meal plans linked up to The Organised Housewife today!

Menu Plan Monday ~ The Asian Edition

We are huge fans of recipes coming from Asia.  Hubby (who does most the cooking in our house) lists Luke Nguyen as his favourite chef.   Maybe it was our honeymoon in Malaysia and Thailand or maybe it’s just that it is healthy AND delicious! The one catch is, Asian cooking can be expensive.  My suggestion is to once a grocery shop stock up on the basic sauces.   Coriander is easy to grow and used in a lot of asian recipes.  Grab some ginger when you grab your potataos and onions.  Start adding some new asian essential to your regular pantry archive!

Monday ~ Tofu Pad Thai

I struggle with vegetarian dishes.  We are a meat devoted family.  But I do love tofu!  Plus its good for you and this makes for a very budget friendly meal!

Tuesday ~ San Choy Bow

Ok so the ones in this picture are fancy and use witlof and prawns!  Our style is lettuce leaves and pork mince!  The kids love that these are like mini bowls!

Wednesday ~ Rice Paper Rolls

These are no where near as hard to make as they look.  The fillings are totally up to you we like chicken, noodles, carrot cucumber and coriander for the kids and prawns for Mum and Dad!  I always have my fingers crossed for left overs as they are great to take for lunch! 

 Thursday ~ Chinese Barbeque Chicken

Love a new take on the humble BBQ chook!  This is a great last minute dinner!

Friday ~ Thai Fish Cakes

 This is such an easy one!  Just throw it all in a bowl, mix it together, roll some rissole like patties and fry!  

Do you have a favourite Asian Recipe

All images are from my favourite food website

The Organised Housewife

Menu Plan Monday….The “in the box” edition!

This week is a crazily busy week for me!  Report Card writing, Kindy dress up day, an extra day of work at school, so I am taking the easy way out! This week I am using as many “box” meals as I can!  My theory is….Sunday prepare all the fillings, cheese, carrot, lettuce, tomato, capsicum, onion, cucumber and salsa.  Then each day just serve the dinner according to the instructions on the box!  It is just so easy to vary these recipes for little ones as well!  Most of these recipes require sour cream or yoghurt and by using similar recipes over the week none of these ingredients go to waste!

Monday – Lamb Wraps – ALDI Box. – $3.99

These are delicious and a family favourite.  We serve the kids meal with rice on the side and some yummy carrot sticks to dip in tzatziki sauce! Of for something different use the boxes contents to create some yummy lamb skewers and serve them like the image above!

Tuesday – Beef Tacos – ALDI Box – $3.99

The kids love using the taco shells to scoop up the mince! This is a messy one so be prepared.

Wednesday – Chicken Burritos – ALDI Box – $3.99

I steam some broccoli and green beans and serve the chicken with rice and vegies for the kids!  

Thursday – Beef Fajitas – Woolworths – $4.99

Using up the last of the sour cream for this one!  This has aways been a family favourite! 

Friday – Fast Food Friday!!!  Taking this one from Mummy Smiles!!!

These meals are cheap, quick and easy.  They all use similar ingredients which really helped our grocery budget as we weren’t buying a hundred different ingredients for each weekly meal.  Most importantly they are all so easy to adapt to feed the kids, its all about simplicity at our place!

So do you eat meals “out of the box”?

All images taken from our favourite food website

Linking up with

The Organised Housewife