6 HEALTHY IDEAS FOR PACKED LUNCHES
Posted by Philippa Gibson on 18 Feb 2018
6 Healthy Ideas for Packed Lunches by Philippa Gibson
We all have to make packed food at some point – whether it’s for our babies and toddlers when we start weaning (snacks, snacks and more snacks!), picnics with family and friends, packed lunches for school or a school trip and it’s always a challenge coming up with healthy, tasty food so here are a few ideas. These are purely from my experience of raising 2 children (now 5 and 6 year olds) and my love of food, cooking and baking.
1. Drop Scones
I started making these when my son started weaning as they are easy for little hands to hold and you can add all sorts of fillings. They are still a favourite in our household! The recipe is adapted from Gill Rapley:
– 125g flour (plain if you want them flat, self-raising if you prefer them a bit fluffier)
– 1 egg, beaten
– 100-150ml milk
– Any extra ingredients e.g. sweetcorn, cheese, tinned fish, spinach, grated apple etc.
Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the beaten egg. Start mixing and slowly add the milk until you have a batter. Add in the other ingredients if using. We regularly add in ½ tin creamed sweetcorn and some grated cheese. Mix it up -you can add more/less milk depending on the consistency of what you’re adding so that you end up with a fairly thick batter.
Fry the drop scones in some butter, turn when bubbles appear to cook the other side.
2. Granola Bars
We all know those shop bought granola bars? That come in a variety of flavours and are an easy snack to carry around? Well I decided to recreate those at home – something else for the packed lunch or after school snack. I tried both baked and no-bake variety and the no-bake ones have gone down a lot better! After 3 attempts here is my recipe:
Melt together 1/4c honey and 1/4c butter (original recipe calls for brown sugar too but I tried both and preferred without – maybe because we all love honey in this house!)
Add in 2 cups of rolled oats
Add in a splash of vanilla extract
Add in any extras – I’ve used sunflower seeds in one batch and a mix of linseed, goji berries, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in the other (bought at Aldi).
Mix until it’s combined – it should be relatively sticky. Flatten it onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray and pop in the fridge. Takes about 2 hours to set, and lasts in the fridge –well ours lasted about a week until it was all finished!
Cut into pieces and enjoy.
These are great as you can make them in a paper case and so easy to transport. There are so many variations depending on what you like or any restrictions e.g. no nuts at school. Here is one for banana and oat muffins. I’ve added a bit of protein powder as they are for school but I would otherwise add some chopped nuts.
(Recipe adapted from Bren)
– 1cup porridge oats
– 1c ground oat bran
– 2 bananas, mashed (the riper the better)
– 2 eggs
– Milk or plain yoghurt and honey to make 1 cup
– 2t vanilla
– ½ t BP
– Sprinkle of cinnamon
– 1 scoop of Whey protein (optional)
Mix mashed bananas, milk/yoghurt and vanilla together. Add in dry ingredients and let it stand for 10 minutes. Bake in muffin cases at 180 C for about 20 minutes. I’ve added in whole-wheat flour as I ran out of oats and that still seemed to work. Extras such as nuts (not for school lunches), coconut or dried fruit will be tasty too.
I love bread as all my family and friends know! I do try and bake it when I have the time and more recently been trying out new recipes. Vegetable breads are good such as corn bread and carrot bread, easy, healthy and tasty (and hidden if the children are a bit anti those veg!) I tried out a few carrot bread recipes until I came up with this:
Carrot Bread (makes 1 loaf)
Sift together 1c plain flour, 1c whole-wheat flour and 1t bicarb of soda
Beat together ½ c butter and ¼ c honey. Add 2 beaten eggs, 1T vanilla essence and 1 cup carrot puree (2 large carrots make just over 1 cup. Keep in the fridge until ready to use).
Add wet ingredients into dry and mix, without overdoing it until you have a thick batter.
Pour into a loaf tin and bake at 180 C for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack, slice and enjoy.
4. Dried Fruit Roll
I’m happy to buy variations of dried fruit from supermarkets, but aside from the fact that they’re expensive I do also like giving the children homemade snacks on occasions! Here’s my recipe for dried fruit roll/fruit leather/homemade winders. Very straightforward, just time consuming.
– 1 punnet of strawberries (about 400-500g)
– 2 ripe bananas
Hull, clean and chop the strawberries.
Cut bananas into pieces
Place both in a blender and mix until it forms a liquid with no lumps
Strain the mixture using a sieve to remove seeds (optional)
Heat the mixture on the stove, stirring constantly until it thickens (run a spoon down the middle and the gap should stay for a second or 2)
Pour this onto greaseproof paper; spread it out so that it’s all the same thickness
Bake at 80C for about 3 hours until it’s dry
Tear into pieces and store in an airtight container
6. Sweet Treats
Sundays are a great day for baking! We recently made a chocolate and courgette cake. My son kept forgetting what it was called “that cucumber thing that’s not very nice” was his description! But I have to say I was so impressed that both children helped me bake, were willing to taste the cake and decided they did like it; although I admit I added a bit of icing and vanilla ice-cream to theirs 🙂
For anyone unsure about this addition – well it makes me feel like they’re getting one of their 5 a day, it does make the cake nice and moist and there is no courgette flavour through it at all! I used a BBC recipe, but I was also able to reduce the amount of sugar I put in, added ground almonds and some natural Cocoa liquid.
Makes 12 cupcakes or 1 big cake
– 175g self-raising flour
– 25g cocoa
– 90ml olive oil
– 100g brown sugar
– 2 eggs
– splash vanilla essence
– 1 large courgette, grated
– 2T choc shot
– 50g ground almond (optional)
Sieve dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix all the wet ingredients. add these to the dry ones and mix until combined. Add ground almond if desired. Bake at 180C – cupcakes take 20-22 minutes, cake will take 30-35 min. They are done when a skewer inserted comes out clean. Ice them or eat them plain.