By February most of us are back at work or school. After the lazy days of holiday, it can be a struggle to get back into making lunches to take. But heading to a café or getting school lunch orders every day soon adds up so we’ve got a few suggestions for yummy, healthy lunches and snacks that make for interesting eating without breaking the bank. No boring sandwiches made the list – find a few new faves for 2024
Poke bowl – these are easy to assemble in the morning and you can use whatever vegetable ingredients you have to hand to go with the basic rice and protein base. Make them for the whole family and just adjust the ingredients in each to suit everyone’s taste. Keep any dressings or marinades in a separate container to add just before you eat so the ingredients don’t go soggy. Check out our Te Atatu Toasted poke bowl recipe.
Rice paper rolls make a great change from sandwiches or wheat-based wraps and are suitable for kids and adults. There are loads of different ingredient combinations that work in a rice paper roll but we like this recipe that uses poached chicken. Take your dipping sauce in a separate container. Rice paper rolls can stay fresh for three to five days when kept in a sealed container in the fridge, so if you make them at the weekend, they will get you through the first half of the week.
Corn fritters are loaded with veges and full of protein from the eggs. Cook up a batch of corn fritters on Sunday night and store them in the fridge either wrapped in cling film or in an airtight container. Make sure you eat them in the first half of the week. If you have access to a microwave at lunchtime, you might like to warm them up and have with a side salad but they are also yummy eaten cold.
Mini pizzas are usually a firm favourite in school lunchboxes. Trying using pita bread or muffin splits as a base. Spread pizza sauce, add your chosen ingredients, top with cheese, then bake at a medium heat for eight to 10 minutes. Kids (and adults) will happily eat them cold for lunch. A similar option is pizza pinwheels – we like this recipe from Kidspot. These are great in lunchboxes or as an after-school snack.
Fried rice is good for lunch – cook some extra white or brown rice at dinner time, then quickly sauté vegetables such as peas, carrots and onion. When the veges are nearly cooked, push them to the side of the fry pan, then use the free space to scramble a couple of eggs. Add the rice to the vege and egg mixture and flavour with soy sauce.
Frittatas are another yummy egg-based lunch option. Use this easy oven-baked frittata recipe from Taste.com.au but swap out the ingredients for whatever you have to hand. Any left over vegetables or roast root vegetables work well, experiment with feta or cheddar cheese and try ham, bacon or chicken instead of pancetta.
Make a Ploughman’s lunch in a box – a Ploughman’s lunch is a traditional English pub meal that’s based around cold meats, cheese, pickled onions, chutney and bread. But make a more modern version by adding cherry tomatoes, cucumber and hard boiled eggs and swapping the bread for some interesting wholegrain crackers. Take it all to work in a sealed container and enjoy.
Kiwis young and old have embraced sushi for lunch and it’s not that hard to make it at home. Try this beginner’s sushi recipe from Kidspot.
If you have access to a microwave at lunchtime, steamed vegetables with cooked chicken is an easy, healthy option. Set aside some cooked chicken from dinner (this works well if you have roasted a whole chook or picked up a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket) and take it to work with an individual serve of frozen vegetables. We like the Watties Steam Fresh range.
Back to school baking
The Te Atatu Toasted website has loads of recipes for baked treats that are perfect lunchbox fillers or work morning and afternoon tea snacks. Check out our collection.
You might want to try our Breakfast Muffins – these are yummy any time of the day but will also be popular with people who can’t face eating breakfast before they leave home and want something filling a bit later in the morning.
Gluten-free Crunchy Banana Bread is bound to become a family favourite. You can even freeze slices to use later but it will probably be gone before you get a chance.
Still on a banana theme, check out our Paleo Banana Cookies. These are delicious straight out of the oven but will also freeze for lunchbox use.