Today’s post is going to be all about ideas I have for easy work or school packed lunch boxes, that you can prepare in minutes. Not only that, they also don’t cost and arm and a leg, but will be an exciting adventure for you and your children who are going to eat them. I also have a great Giveaway at the end of the post, so don’t lose me now!
I don’t know about you but if I set my mind to preparing healthy and easy lunchbox meals at home for myself and my children, I not only save a whole lot of money, but I know that the foods I choose will be the healthier option and will eliminate the purchase of unhealthy take-out or tuck-shop buys and I am definitely going to save money. With the vast amount of readily available, and for the most part healthy snacking options, and the great variety of gorgeous, practical and clever lunchbox containers available these days, packing an interesting lunch that is so much more than just a cheese sandwich is a lot more possible now, than it was when we just got single compartment containers and less in the line or well thought out products.
Think along the lines of the Bento Box which is quite expensive but that you can at least buy locally now. There is also the really super and more affordable Sistema which are available at many leading retailers and outlets nationwide. I have also found some interesting and useful containers at large Plastics retailers. The prices are very reasonable and if you can’t find a container there then you have very high expectations.
The basis of any good and exciting lunchbox is a great and practical container, so make sure you get yours and you will be able to start packing Pinterest worthy lunches in no time at all, and with little more than a bit of forethought and prepping ahead of time. Another good idea is to invest in a great cooler bag that you can keep the lunchboxes in until eating time. Often, and especially with the kids, the lunches have to stand out in hot corridors, or even outside and there is nothing worse than sloppy hot and wilted Greek salad or hot Tomato on your Cheese and Tomato sarmie is there? There is usually enough space for a drinks container in these cooler bags too which really helps to keep all the bits together, and not lying around all looking for a place to get lost in. Well. that’s my experience with my kids anyway. If it’s all in one bag that problem is sorted. I found the nicest cooler bags at Woolworths but you will find them at many retailers and in various shapes and sizes and prices.
Alright, so lets get onto the good stuff. I just want to say that all the lunch ideas I have here, are interchangeable for work or school lunches. You can just change the fillings according the your or your children’s personal preference too, so nothing is hard and fast. Please bear in mind that these are merely just ideas, and there are very many more that I have on a Pinterest Board that you can check out if you like. All of the images are my own and they are of actual lunches that I have made. The only image that is not of something I made myself is the salad in a jar. I did however take the photo of that and so it does belong to me. Some of the ideas require a little prep work, and so they would be good for instance for a Monday where you can do the prep work on the Sunday evening and have it all ready. I would also just like to mention then that I am not going to split the ideas into work or school categories. You can decide for yourself who you would like to make them for. My kids often eat the same lunch I make for myself. It’s really seldom that I make different lunches for us all.
The Humble Sandwich.
Now that’s boring you might say, but if you have great bread then it is anything but. I use a bread-maker and I have the simplest most delicious bread recipe. The right and tastiest/freshest fillings also make the world of difference. We bake a loaf every alternate day and everybody loves it. If you would like to give it a go and have a breadmaker then the recipe will follow after the image. Our Go to Sandwich Filling is Ham, Lettuce, Cheese and Mayo but the options are really endless. End of it being, with bread that good it would even make Bovril look fabulous. No preparation in advance for this besides the bread of course but you could use any regular loaf you usually buy. Play around with different meat selection and Cheese and even the greens. Replace the lettuce with Rocket or watercress and see how that spices things up. Make fillings like Chicken or Tuna mayo the night before so it’s ready to use in the morning and if you use tomato then make sure to take all the seeds out and just use the flesh for the sarmie. This will help the bread not to get soggy. You can also layer the tomato between other things like Cheese or meat. Another trick I have found which works really well to keep your sarmie together in the lunchbox, is to wrap a strip of Wax paper around it and tie it with a string. This not only keeps your sarmie from falling apart it also looks really pretty and inviting.
That’s a Wrap
Next I have put up a wrap. I often make wraps as dinner and use various fillings but two of our favorite for the lunchbox is Smoked Salmon or Chicken mayo. You can use any filling really. I buy White Flour Tortilla’s and spread them thickly with Cream Cheese if I am doing Salmon. I layer salad ingredients and then slivers of the Smoked Salmon. Roll it up, cut it in two and wrap in wax paper. You can also put it into a sealable sandwich bag to keep it fresh. This takes little or no prep. If you decide on Chicken Mayo or something similar then it’s always best to prep that the night before. I’ve just plated this wrap up for the purpose of the picture. If you are sending a wrap to school or taking it to work then adding things like Fresh Berries or a fruit is probably all you will need as an extra because this is quite filling.
The “Sushi” Sarmie
Another fun but different way of sending a sandwich to school but making it a little bit more fun is to do nothing more than cut the crusts off, roll the slices of (Shop bought sliced bread) as thin as you can, layering two slices with filling in between and then rolling them up like Sushi. Cut them in three pieces and there you have it. I like to sprinkle Sesame seeds onto the top of the rolls for effect and crunch. A filling we like to use a lot of Creamed Cheese and Cucumber with salt and Pepper. Everybody loves this but you can really play around with different things. My Son rather enjoyed the Peanut butter and Jam ones I sent the other day. This is so simple and so effective. I like to use a lunchbox with dividers and then add in some fruit, Cheese wedges and vegetable sticks. Making the sandwich like this took no more extra time than a regular sandwich really, the rolling out of the bread probably takes 20 seconds. The kids love this effect quite a bit.
If you haven’t eaten or prepared Couscous before then you are seriously missing out. This has replaced my regular pasta salad because it takes far less preparation and it’s really tasty and filling. This is a salad I make with Couscous, Peas, Cherry Tomato, fresh Chilli and Feta cheese. At the end I mix in some chopped parsley and a squeeze or lemon juice and Olive Oil. This salad can be prepared even up to two days in advance and kept in the fridge. If you are making it for you kids then you can just omit the chilli. The Couscous (Available at most retailers although I love the Woolworths one because it comes in a resealable packet) is the base, you can really put anything in it that you like. It is really rather delicious with Roasted Veg and drizzling of balsamic vinegar and then a sprinkling of Pumpkin seeds on the top. Butternut and Feta with Pinenuts works well too. I find you need the lemon juice and olive oil no matter what filling you use. Couscous doesn’t involve more than boiling a kettle, putting some Couscous (I used half a cup for this salad) in a bowl with a tablespoon of Olive Oil and a tablespoon of Vegetable stock powder (I use the Woolies one or Natures Source) You would then put the recommended amount of boiling water into the bowl with the couscous and leave it to expand for about 15 minutes. All you do them is fluff it up with fork add in your salad ingredients once it’s cooled down and Bob’s your uncle. This is a Salad that I actually often make in the morning before work because I am boiling the kettle to make coffee anyway. The filling doesn’t take much prep but if you are using frozen peas you should thaw them in the fridge overnight. If you are making your roast veg then make it the day before alternatively buy the Roast Veg ready-made. You really can’t get prettier or more filling than this. I usually make sure to pack a fork in with this and then some fruit pieces for desert. A snack pack of nuts is a good optional to send along with this lunch.
Sandwich shaping fun
Some days home-baked bread is just not possible, and there is only sliced bread, you also have to come to end of the month salty cracks and are stuck for inspiration. Well that is when I haul out my sandwich cutters. Somehow even when the filling aren’t exciting but the bread looks fun, the sarmie is nice to eat. I usually do Cheese and Tomato or Bovril and Cheese or even PB&J for these but you could do it with any filling. All it takes is regular bread and a cutter of sorts. I got these great cutters as a gift a few years ago and they have really been great. We use them for everything, not just sarmies. Along with this sandwiches I will sometimes send a mini salad of Cucumber, Tomato and Feta or Olives. My eldest daughter loves getting salad to school. Fruit salad also works well with this, and then I just pop in a yoghurt too and perhaps a cheese wedge.
Bulgar Wheat Winner
This next lunch is actually one of those things you can make for dinner, eat warm and then take as a school/Work lunch the next day and eat cold. It is just the most inviting dish to look at and incredibly easy to make. All you need is Beetroot that you peel and boil till cooked. You chop and fry some onion in Olive oil with spices of your choice and then add Vegetable stock along with Bulgar wheat (Quantities will be on the packet) and Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 mins. Leave that to stand a little and then Squeeze in a good bit of lemon Juice, some Olive Oil and a nice big handful of Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley and dish into portions on plates or in a lunchbox. Slice the Beetroot and layer it on top. Crumble Feta Cheese over it and some roasted Pine Nuts and top with a little fresh parsley. A little drizzle of balsamic Vinegar is great with this. The whole meal is extremely filling. For this one I made below I used different kinds of Beetroot and so that is why there are some different colours. Regular Red Beetroot is great of course. You can play around. My Children loved this and it was really refreshing. If you are a vegetarian this lunch is one of those you should put right at the top of your list.
Chicken Salad in a Jar
I took this picture at an event I attended because it really was such a wonderful idea. I have since made it for myself and my kids and it really went down well. All you need is a small-sized Jar with a tight filling lid (A Mason jar works best) and of course Salad ingredients. You can prepare this the night before or put it all together in the morning. Layer the washed and dried Salad ingredients to your liking and then Top with a protein of your choice. In this instance it is smoked Chicken. It can be anything though. Do not put any dressing over it. You should send that in a separate container. Pack the ingredients tightly to eliminate too much air getting in. Put the Lid on and store in the fridge and then directly to the cooler bag. It is important to remember when sending anything with Chicken to school that you include an Ice-Pack in the cooler bag to keep the food as cold as possible to prevent bacteria issues.
And that is that, these are just a few really great, easy ideas that I wanted to share with you. There are really endless options.
When I was preparing this post I thought about the fact that I really would love to be able to equip a few of my readers with a starter pack of sorts, to get their lunches off to a flying start. So I decided to have a little giveaway.
Two of my loyal readers will have the opportunity to win an awesome cooler bag just like the one from Woolworths in the post above, that will be filled with a selection of handy lunchbox type treats and things to make packing lunches a whole lot easier. I have even thought of things like Sealable sandwich Bags and hand wipes.
I paid for these prizes with my own money, I went and individually selected the items all myself too so as to be sure I got the things I know are loved by all. Each prize is valued at about R200. I will run this giveaway until Monday 16 November where a winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter, and announced here on the blog and on all my social media platforms. If you aren’t already on any of those then you can find me here on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.
Please read the requirements carefully. All you will need to do to enter, is to follow the Rafflecopter prompts of which one will be to leave a specific comment to be eligible, this is the only obligatory requirement. The other prompts will give you additional entries for free though. I will only enter applicable and correct entries for the draw. If you have won anything on this blog in the last 6 months you will not be eligible. The winners of the prizes will be able to collect directly from me or have the items sent by regular mail. The Winner has 48 hours to accept the prize or a new winner will be drawn. E&OE,T&C’s apply and The prize is not transferable for cash.