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November 29, 2016

Down To Earth Kid Food Expert Stacey Kemeys shares 8 simple ideas for creating fun & healthy lunch box snacks. 

Fact: we eat first not with our mouths, but with our eyes. I remember a chef teaching me this one day. The first sense we use when deciding to eat something is sight. Our kids are no different. Little fun tweaks to lunch boxes can make kids more keen to try new things. Getting them involved in making the lunch helps too!

School lunch boxes, or kindy lunch boxes for that matter don’t have to be fancy or flash to be fun and healthy. I’ve put together 8 healthy lunch box ideas I use regularly when I am packing my kids lunch boxes. None of them are tricky to do. None require fancy or expensive ingredients and all are healthy. 

1. Cucumber flowers

You will need:

  • Cucumber
  • Cheese and/or a carrot
  • Cookie cutter, you can use any shape but a flower or a star work well
  • Apple corer

How to do it:

  1. Slice your cucumber (approximately 1 cm thick)
  2. Slice your cheese or carrot to roughly the same thickness
  3. Use your apple corer to remove the a circle from the centre of the cucumber
  4. Use the apple corer to cut discs from the cheese or carrot
  5. Push the cheese or carrot disc into the centre of the cucumber
  6. Pack it into the lunch box!

 2. Customised cheese!

I promise this is not tricky at all. It looks really fun and cheese is a great protein source for the lunch box.

 You will need:

  • Babybel cheese (It is available in most NZ supermarkets)
  • Small cookie or play dough cutter

How to do it:

  1. Choose your cookie cutter shape, or better still, have your child choose
  2. Remove the plastic cellophane wrapper
  3. Press the cookie cutter firmly into the wax
  4. Remove the wax shape
  5. Pack it into the lunch box! 

 3. Strawberry Hearts

You will need:

  • Strawberries
  • Small sharp knife

How to do it:

  1. Do not cut your strawberry in half first… I know you will be tempted to, but it never works as well
  2. Take your whole strawberry, cut a ‘V’ out of the top to remove the hull/leaves at the top
  3. Now slice your strawberry in half, voilà a heart!
  4. Pack it into the lunch box!

 4. Melon Balls

You will need:

  • Melon (Watermelon, Rock melon, Honeydew)
  • A melon baller (yes it is a bit of a flash back to the eighties but it is fun! A great place to find them is at second hand stores, although you can also pick them up at regular stores too. Mitre 10 Mega had them last time I looked, and they will be available at most kitchen supply stores.)

How to do it:

  1. Scoop balls from your melons (it is a perfect job for kids as no sharp knives are needed)
  2. Pack it into the lunch box!

 5. Get creative with mini pancakes

This is a super easy base recipe for making protein packed pancakes, and you can add pretty much any soft fruit or cooked fruit or vegetable to it. I use it for a healthy breakfast as well.

You will need:

  • 1/2 Cup Oats
  • 1/2 Cup Cottage Cheese
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup soft fruit or cooked fruit or vegetable (I have used peas, spinach, cooked apple, banana, kumara, pumpkin, beetroot) Some options also work well with cheese, ie 1 Cup cooked peas and 1/4 Cup Feta
  • A food processor or stick blender

How to do it:

  1. Blend everything until smooth
  2. Heat a heavy based pan on medium heat
  3. Lightly grease
  4. Drop spoonfuls into the pan, cook until bubbles appear on the surface
  5. Flip, to finish cooking
  6. Pack it into the lunch box!

 6. Stick it to them

Yes, put things on sticks, kids love the change in presentation. 

You will need:

  • Tooth Picks or slightly longer bamboo skewers (it is a good idea to cut off the sharp end before packing it into the lunch box)
  • Fruit and vegetables to skewer (grapes, cheery tomatoes, corn kernels, cucumber, carrot...anything really)

 How to do it:

  1. Thread it on to the skewer
  2. Pack it into the lunch box!

 7. Try a simple salad

One of my kids' favourite salads is literally 3 things…

You will need:

  • Carrot
  • Apple
  • Raisins
  • Bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon (only needed if you are not eating it straight away)

How to do it:

  1. Grate the apple and carrot (I use a spiraliser when I am feeling fancy)
  2. Sit the apple and carrot in the lemon and water juice for a few minutes then drain. (My kids find the squeeze of lemon directly on to the food too strong, but you could do that if your kids will eat it. It just stops it from browning)
  3. Pack it into the lunch box, and add a sprinkle of raisins

 8. Try a gadget

My latest toy is an Avanti cucumber ribbon maker. It was not expensive, coming in at around $7. It is very easy to use, my 4 year old and 2.5 year old can make cucumber ribbons with it. It has been a heap of fun, and a fun and different way to serve cucumber in the lunch boxes.


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