Gathering the troops and making packed lunches of a morning can feel like a mountainous task, especially considering 60% of us struggle for new ideas to liven-up our lunch breaks*. Yet, almost a quarter of UK households (24%) still admit to leaving the packed-lunch prepping until the last minute according to our Sarnie Study with Warburtons.
To make life a little easier, leading children’s food expert Annabel Karmel shares her 10 timesaving hacks to get your kids to class with a healthy lunchbox that won’t be returned to sender.
Use bagel thins to create mini pizzas the night before – a great one for letting the kids cram on their favourite healthy toppings. Simply make a few extra, wrap them in foil and store then in the fridge overnight. Hey presto! You have a ready-made fast food favourite for lunch.
Create an area in the fridge which is brimming with wholesome snacks at the ready – think chopped-up fruit, blueberry portions frozen in sandwich bags, pre-cut veggie batons. Then let the kids pick out their own snacks. That way, they’ll feel involved and it puts less pressure on you while you’re trying to keep this military operation on track.
Keep it dry
Put condiments like mayo, houmous or pesto – and wet toppings like tomatoes – in between cold meat cuts or cheese so that the sandwich doesn’t get soggy on the inside.
An apple a day could keep kids at bay if it’s not easy to eat (let’s face it, playtime is far more appealing that chomping at an oversized piece of fruit). Slice an apple, put it back together and wrap it up in cling film. That way, it stays nice and juicy but easy to eat for impatient kids.
Even if you’re prone to prepping on the day, use the weekend to make a list of different lunchbox ideas and buy the ingredients. That way, you’ll have a plan to follow each morning to speed-up the lunch-making operation.
2-in 1 snacks
When you’re serving up dessert, pop a few tablespoons of yoghurt into silicon cupcake cases and sprinkle some fresh fruit on top. Freeze overnight and then pack them up the next morning. The kids will love this cool treat and it saves on the chopping and cutting in the morning.
Freeze water bottles
There’s nothing worse that worn withered sarnies, so create their very own ice pack with a frozen water bottle. By the time they unzip lunch, the water will be thawed, and their food will be cool and fresh – without the soggy bottoms!
We’ve all had those moments where we reach for the loaf of bread and realise the last slice has vanished. If you don’t have room in your freezer for an entire standby loaf, separate and bag-up 4 slices at a time, and pack them in amongst your other foods. They’ll hardly take up any room and you’ll never be caught short.
Stick with one style
There’s nothing more annoying than trying to cobble together mismatched tops, boxes and lids when you need to pack in a flash. Buy identical food boxes and tubs, so when your child inevitably loses a lid, you’ll always have spares on hand.
Half and half bread is great for packing-in the goodness at lunchtimes, but try mixing it up with two tone sandwiches made with one slice of white bread, and one of brown. It’s a great way to add some extra fibre while sprucing up their sarnies. Get started with our Traffic Light Stacks or for more healthy kids lunchbox ideas visit the Warburtons hub.
*Survey Monkey Research among 3,091 UK parents with children aged 0-15 (28.07.17 to 07.08.17).