Tuesday, September 3, 2013

inside the lunchbox

A few of you have asked what I pack inside the kid's school lunch boxes. So here it is. A week's worth of lunches. When we started this wheat free thing, it was very tricky figuring out what to pack in the absence of sandwiches. Afterall, it is what lunchbox packing used to revolve around here. Through trial and error I have slowly discovered what gets eaten and what doesn't (and nobody likes unpacking a lunchbox still full of food!).  I have found that if I have a few staples of real food such as eggs, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and cheese, then I can create quick lunch box fillers without packet food. Of course one or two baked treats a week doesn't go astray either, and I have found the most popular ones have been almond flour based. Sometimes I soak spelt flour for baked treats such as pancakes. Sandwiches are not entirely off limits, but these days they are usually rye, spelt or kamut sourdough, although not very often due to the cost.

Monday :
Buckwheat pancakes spread with butter and filled with grated carrot and cheese.
Popcorn cooked in coconut oil.

Tuesday :
Corned beef (leftovers from last night's dinner).
100% Rye sourdough* bread with butter.
Tapioca pudding from Nourishing Traditions.

Sweet carrot muffins from From Scratch.
Nuts, sultanas and sunflower seeds.
Leftover bolognese style sauce with grated cheese.

Sweet carrot muffins (links above).
Boiled eggs.
Sliced cheddar cheese, cos lettuce, celery and carrot.
Mandarin. Again.

Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sultanas.
Grated carrot, camembert cheese and leftover roast lamb.
Sliced orange.*

*Lately I have been buying oranges and mandarins in bulk through Fresh Citrus Direct. I love being able to support farmers directly, and I have to say that that these are the freshest and sweetest citrus I have ever tasted. The oranges make the sweetest juice ever. Stored in the fridge they tend to last much longer than the supermarket variety.

*While I am still not yet venturing into the world of sourdough making, for the moment I have discovered a wonderful online sourdough baker, Hope Farm Bakery, for the occasional treat. (I ordered 5 loaves to save on postage, and stored them in the freezer).

So, yes, it is a tricky business, this lunch box thing, but it is good to finally feel more confident with changes. Thankfully my kids have not been too embarrassed with these homemade efforts, though there has been a few teasing comments in the past. Along the way I have tried to educate them as why we eat the way we do, and they seem to be embracing that, in no small part because a few of their friends eat in a similar way.

How do you handle the whole lunchbox thing?
Any ideas or recipes to share?


  1. Hi TanIa, that's for sharing your lunchboxes with us! What lucky kids to have so much homemade goodness! I just wish my girls would eat some of those things, even teenagers bring home a half-full lunchbox sometimes! You have given me some ideas, though. We continue to experiment with diet here, trying to treat some symptoms ... Am looking forward to my copy of Nourishing Traditions arriving soon, it's been about 7 weeks since I ordered it!
    Hope you have a lovely week, take care.

  2. I love your lunch box ideas. So much thought and effort has gone into these. I love the idea of something other than a sandwich. I know my daughter gets sick of them although her favourite fillings are grated cheese and carrot with mayo. As well as tuna and mayo. She love pasta salads too. In Tom's lunchbox he always has to have a nutella sandwich. Not a happy chap if I try to change his filling. Will use some of your ideas. Like how you have used leftover dinner meats and the selection of nuts and seeds. Thanks Tania. xo

  3. Totally admire you with all those lunch box ideas....Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  4. We are not on wheat free so I don't have any helpful suggestions but just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to photograph and document these yummy lunches. I am amazed at how little your kids eat though, mine are such munchers ;-))
    I often use dinner leftovers in either reheated in a thermos or make something else with it. Had steamed beans the other day and used that as the base for a salad with some cherry tomatoes and tuna. Meatballs are forever popular too, even cold homemade chicken nuggets.

  5. I wish you were making my work lunch everyday, it all looks so good!

  6. I believe it's a testament to great parenting. Those lunches look divine.

  7. I'm really surprised nuts are allowed to be taken to school. My grandson is not even allowed to take a peanut butter sandwich to school!!

  8. Yum! I'd love it if you made me lunch every day!
    Kid's lunches equals the husbands domain! I went on strike many years ago!!! I'm sure he does a great job! I do the baking- he fills the lunch boxes with whatever! It can be funny sometimes as I can ne'er remember who like butter or not etc and who has what on their sandwiches when I have to do lunches if husband away! I am sure there are many husbands who have no idea what their kids eat n school lunches too!

  9. Yeah I have to echo Michelle's sentiments. My kids are severely allergic to nuts and we (thankfully) have a nut ban at school. Are there no nut-allergic kids at your school?

  10. Your lunch box recipes are like delicious little "picnics" for your children to enjoy but at school. Very lucky! My Kindy uses a Goodbyne lunch box so i solved the cling wrap problem. It's filled with a savoury, fruit and a sweet, all homemade to avoid additives. He also got teased because it seemed most were eating the supermarket packet food aimed at children and I was really bummed about it all but months later as I got to know the parents I found out that some children were going home and wanting what he had. So don't worry Tania, I bet kids are going home talking about your amazing food! Thank you so so much for the fruit and bread links.

  11. Hi Tania - I've been trying to source popping corn that's not sold in those microwave packets - where do you buy yours?

  12. Thanks guys for your comments. Several of you have mentioned the nut allergy question, and I can assure you that it is allowed at our small school. We have no nut allergies amongst the students.
    Lilian - I bought my organic popcorn kernels in bulk from Honest to Goodness online, but I have also bought it from the supermarket in small packets (displayed in Woolworths next to the beer nuts) or in bins in the local health food store.

  13. Hi Tania,
    We have gone wheat free due to intolerances. I struggle to find things my daughter will eat and our school is nut free too. One thing she loves is crackers and cheese or fresh hummus. The canteen also does a nice range of alternative foods which is helpful.

  14. specialty breads are pricey aren't they! have you thought about getting a bread maker? you could make your own bread much cheaper? i love my breadmaker for making all kinds of different breads... i admit i've got a fancy one (a fully programable breville that you can do sourdoughs anf gluten free breads in- you can adjust the rise time to make it extra long for sourdough!)but it was bought on frequent flyer points! we love it

  15. We make pizza topped rolls with spelt flour that go down a treat! I make a batch up and freeze them individually and then pop into the lunch box for hubby and kids frozen...they love them. What about yum yum balls made with almonds dates and cocoa...my kids lovvvvvve them and they keep really well in the fridge

  16. Some great ideas as we try to eat less wheat here - a challenge when one daughter is egg & nut allergic & both can be fuss pots who love their bread! But an idea from here, an idea there & it all adds up! Thanks for sharing, you're doing a great job on a tricky daily task!

  17. This is a subject I have been giving some thought to lately, as I think about Cohen going to Prep next year. It's a really great post Tania, and not the usual lunchboxes you see. We don't buy prepackaged food now and I don't want to start next year, but I won't have the luxury of being able to prepare it at the time, as I do now. Thanks for the inspiration and showing that it's possible. xx

  18. Can I just let you know - a friend used to send home popped popcorn in her sons lunch box almost every day - he had to have some major dental work done - because the popcorn was getting stuck in between his teeth and then it sat there all day until he cleaned his teeth at night. We love it here too though !!!

  19. I don't have kids, but my husband and I take our lunch to work, so its interesting to see what you pack. I love that you use re-usable containers and paperbags, hardly any rubbish :) If you're struggling with sourdough, I recommend using a soaked flour method and bakers yeast instead, there's a recipe on my blog, and I find that it works every time, I just couldn't get sourdough right!

  20. some great ideas to borrow here tania! i enjoy packing the lunchboxes but often find them pretty heavy on the carbs.

    rachel xo

  21. Wow what wonderful lunch boxes, full of yummy variety.
    I had a look on the baker's web site and by the shape of your bread, it could be the Farmer's Sourdough Rye, which contains some wheat flour.The 100% Rye loaf is a denser looking squarer shaped loaf.

  22. Hi Tania,
    I notice your cow post has gone - I hope everything is ok xxBrenda

  23. Hmm, I hope everything is fine with you and your latest addition to the household? Was wondering since the last post has disappeared if everything is okay. Hope so!



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