Our Adventures

  • 16 Aug 2013

    We put our FREE lunchbox ideas to the test

    Posted: 16 Aug 2013

    So Niece and I wanted to put our allergy friendly 5 day lunchbox menu to the test (OK, maybe it was more me. She was already won over by the circus moustache and flapping napkin bird). We printed the sheets off and spent last week testing the practicality of things: are the recipes easy enough to follow? How long does it take to prepare? Can little helpers join in? Or the all important: does it taste good and will she eat it? It's all well and good having fun adventures inside a lunchbox packed with healthy, nutritious food. But if she wasn't going to eat it our efforts, whisking, chopping, stirring and baking are wasted - and back we go to the drawing board. Deflated.

    Monday - The circus adventure
    This felt like a winning box before Niece had even tried it. We set up in the kitchen to make out first dish: popcorn balls for the strong man's weight-lift bar. Note to self: buy my sister a food processor before attempting this again. I had to chop everything by hand - I hadn't anticipated this recipe would come with a workout! Laughs filled the room though when niece piped up "Can I test everything first to make sure it's OK?" (Spies a bag of popcorn) Oh, to be a kid again I thought. We had great fun rolling the mixture into balls together and placing them on cut down straws. All in all, really easy recipe, and I imagine quick too with a food processor. The 'free from' pasta dish got a big tick, again simple and quick to prepare. The only thing that Niece wasn't so keen on was the watermelon salad - no great surprises there really, but we persevered. Top tip: You'll find the watermelon provides an abundance of cubes so cut the watermelon in half and freeze. It'll make a perfect picnic box cooler, that's nicely chilled by the time everyone wants to dig in.

    Tuesday - The farm adventure
    Polenta hay bales were a great alternative to a sandwich, I thought and Niece was a big fan of them too. I've heard they freeze really well (2-3 months) if you make a big batch. Has anyone tried this? I had a bit of a hunt as I couldn't find the ready made polenta so I made this from scratch which didn't take long at all, thanks to Merchant Gourmet :) boasting a long list of being gluten free, nut free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The mango Lassi drink got our vote too - felt like a milkshake with nutritional benefits. Two down, three to go...

    Wednesday -  The Seaside adventure
    Here's where I have to fess up, by the time I got round to creating the soup it was nearing the early hours of Wednesday morning - 1am in fact. Had a bit of a crazy day on Allergy Adventures and grabbed the butternut squash instead of the sweet potato. Happy accident though, as it tasted great. Beef and butternut squash sandcastle cubes were wolfed down by Niece as were the sunflower seeds. Though on reflection the Thermos flask for the soup is probably not the most practical of items. And thanks to Jolene and Sarah for their Facebook comments suggesting a food flask - didn't even know these existed and yet a google search revealed millions of them! I'd still be keen to hear other people thoughts on taking a soup into school or if anyone has successfully done so? 

    Thursday -  The Zoo adventure
    Broccoli trees were a winner even without the dip. Actually niece wasn't too keen on the dip at all, but I think that was more down to me being a bit too liberal with the lemon juice. Redid it at the weekend and it tasted much better, so it could be a case of giving it another go for niece to get use to the taste. Aubergine is not something she's tried before, so I might even try this in other dishes to see what she thinks? Again the 'free from' pasta got a big tick as well as the fruit - both simple, quick to prepare and loved by a little one. 

    Friday - The Picnic adventure
    Everyone gave the raisin rice cakes a thumbs up. I'd never made sunflower seed butter before and it certainly won't be the last - yum! Niece got immense joy from positioning raisins on top to make smiley faces for everyone - proud to see her presentation skills are developing ;) She thought my chicken lettuce wraps were funny looking but it didn't deter her from munching away at them. I did wonder how well they would actually keep rolled up on the walk into school? Ah maybe wrapping them in tinfoil will do the trick (we usually put her sandwiches in a Tupperware box). The big hit was the mango hedgehog though, you would have thought it was Christmas as she watched me prepare it in excitement. Simple, magical, fun. Nuff said.

    Overall it's been a happy and successful week of lunchbox adventures! Definite favourites: popcorn balls, polenta hay bales, beef & butternut squash sandcastle cubes, but top of the list... mango hedgehogs! As always though - room for adjustments and improvements. A food processor for a start! Look forward to hearing everyone else's feedback, already I've had some great suggestions to chat with the Lunchbox doctor about. Or if anyone has tried the fun craft activities with your little ones, it's always good hear about those stories too ;)

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