Lunch, all wrapped up

7 lunchbox ideas to get you through the first week

Lunch, all wrapped up

Alternative proteins

More and more families are become conscious about meat – and, in some cases, it’s the kids leading the charge. Here are a few ideas for those Meat-Free Mondays (or weeks).

Cottage cheese
Packed with protein and calcium, not to mention vitamin B12, a serving of cottage cheese is a great alternative to meat, especially when paired with veggies and a starch.

Lunch idea: Stir in diced cucumbers and tomatoes with a sprinkling of oregano, and serve with sliced fingers of pita bread.

Edamame beans
If you’re packing a veggie pasta salad for lunch, adding in a handful of edamame beans will give your kids an extra dose of protein.

Lunch idea: Serve as a side, either steamed in their pods (watch the salt levels), or as part of a mixed bean salad.

Did you know that hummus is a complete protein?

It contains the nine essential amino acids required to earn that accolade, thanks to the combination of nuts and pulses. The addition of garlic and lemon are nutritional bonuses.

Lunch idea: Why not try making it at home, so you can control the olive oil and tahini levels? (And, therefore, the fat.) Throw chickpeas, water, garlic, lemon juice and a glug of olive oil and tahini into a blender, and whizz for 60 seconds. Add in tangy jalapeño if your kids like spicy food. Serve with pita bread and crunchy veggies such as sugar snaps, baby corn, cucumbers and carrots.

Eggs have plenty of high-quality protein, plus iron, vitamins and minerals.

Few kids are big fans of the hard-boiled, chopped egg sandwich – but there are plenty of ways to sneak them into a cold meal.

Lunch idea: These are easily prepped the night before.

Pack an omelette into a sandwich with crunchy baby gem lettuce, or make a colourful, veggie-packed quiche that will last several meals throughout the week. Skip the calorific (and time-consuming) pastry crust and replace by lining your baking dish with flour tortillas instead.

Sandwich swaps

Bored of bread? Sandwiches aren’t the only solution – and sometimes, there’s a quicker, more efficient way to manage meals for the days ahead. These four dishes can all be made ahead of time, and dished up throughout the school week.

Mexican bean salad
This dish is packed with protein and fibre, and will keep for several days in the fridge.

Ingredients – makes 2 servings
• 1 tin of kidney beans
• 1 tin of black beans
• 1 tin of sweet corn (no added sugar, or frozen and defrosted)
• 1 green capsicum pepper
• 1 medium tomato
• 1 small onion
• Juice of one lime
• Olive oil
• Fresh coriander (if they’ll eat it)
• Salt & pepper to taste

Rinse tinned and fresh vegetables thoroughly. Mix all tinned vegetables in a large food container, stir in diced capsicum, tomato and onion, dress with olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with chopped coriander.

Italian pasta salad
Bulk cook pasta for dinner, and set some aside to make this colourful salad with. Volumes will vary, but you want to aim for a 40:60 ratio of pasta to veggies.

• Wholegrain pasta (we recommend fusilli, to better soak up any juice)
• Chopped cherry tomatoes
• Fresh spinach leaves
• Fresh basil leaves
• Fresh mozzarella
• Olive oil
• Salt & pepper to taste

Cool the pasta (if time is of the essence) by running under cold water. Quarter the cherry tomatoes, roughly chop the spinach and basil until you have pieces roughly the size of the pasta, and stir all in. Dice up fresh mozzarella and sprinkle over the top, stir in a glug of olive oil and season to taste.

Quinoa tabbouleh salad
It’s an increasingly popular riff on the Middle Eastern classic. Bulk it up with tinned chickpeas to keep the kids going until dinnertime.

Ingredients – makes 2 servings
• 1.5 cups of cooked quinoa
• 1 tin of chickpeas
• 1 medium tomato (finely chopped)
• 1 small onion (finely chopped)
• 2 cups of chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• Salt & pepper to season
• Optional – pomegranate seeds to garnish

Mix together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and onion.
Add in quinoa, chickpeas, tomato and parsley. Stir through thoroughly.

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