Updated: Sep 10, 2018
When I first realized that I had to prepare C's lunchbox everyday for at least three years (Kindergarten and Grade 1 kids are not allowed to get food from the school canteen), I was like... oh no!
I started researching what type of food in the lunchbox, is the food served cold or hot, which type of lunch box to use, which type of lunch bag, etc. So many questions! Anyway, after searching and searching, I think YUMBOX is the best! It has compartments to help me packing a balanced portion of grain, protein, fruit, and vegetable - and at the same time leak-proof. I also bought Annabel Karmel's book "Lunchboxes".
Following the food safety temperatures, I decided to always pack cold lunch. I pack the food in YUMBOX then put it together with the snack box and an ice pack into a insulated lunch bag. Luckily, my son C is just like his dad - they have no problem eating cold food.
So... what do I pack in C's lunchbox?
1) Main course - see below
2) Fruits - grapes (the best! as it won't get squishy easily), strawberries, blueberries
3) Vegetables - broccoli, carrot, cherry tomatoes, cucumber
4) Others - crackers, seaweed, rice crackers, cheese cubes, ham rolls
Sandwich - tuna-mayo, egg-mayo, prawn-mayo, ham and cheese, hard scrambled, salami. The sandwich fillings is prepared the night before. In the morning, I just need to combine the fillings and the bread.
Plain pasta (various type of pasta!) with something - beef ball, pan-friend fish fillet, chicken-prawn fried dumpling, baked fish strip, baked chicken strip, quail eggs. Everything (pasta, vegetable, main) is prepared the night before and kept in the fridge. Often, he has the same things for dinner. It's more efficient that way - I cook for both his dinner and his lunchbox.
Pizza, Beef burger, Hot dog, Chicken wrap, Chicken/Pepperoni/Salami quesadillas.
Prawn aglio ogio, Spinach & Cod fish rice, Pasta salad, Rice salad, Salmon rice balls, Sushi, Vietnamese prawn spring rolls with sweet and spicy sauce, Rainbow veggie and glass noodle salad. Everything is prepared the night before and kept in the fridge. In the morning, what I need to do is just to pack everything into the YUMBOX.
Along the way, I've learned a few things:
1) Best to food that can be picked by fingers (sandwich, sushi, pizza) than those that need fork or spoon to eat (fried noodle, pasta with sauce, rice salad).
2) Don't pack fragile / soft fruits like raspberries - they get mashed easily and won't be nice anymore.
3) Don't pack too much for lunch because usually the lunch time is followed by the play time (outdoor). They want to finish their lunch quickly and go out to play.
4) Observe what he likes and dislikes and adjust the plan for next time accordingly.
On top of the lunchbox, I also have to pack him a snack box - for brain food (first thing in the morning when he arrives at school) and snack time. Usually I pack some bread with jam, corn flakes, cheerios, various muffins (banana, apple, raisin, blueberry, chocolate), pikelets, etc.
It's interesting that at the start of the school year, my then 5 years old C asked me to make a schedule so he knows what to expect :-) He followed me up a few times so finally I put a plan for 20 days and put it on the fridge. He's happy to see that - but not so happy that I don't really follow the schedule thoroughly :-)
It's not scary anymore to prepare a lunchbox. I have fun doing it now. Happy Preparing!