Revamp Your Lunch Box
After my last year post on Lunchbox Ideas (it was a huge hit!), that you can read here https://www.rabbitmum.com/home/lunchbox-ideas, I challenged myself to do 30 day in a row lunchbox with different main course.
I still use the same lunch box, Yumbox, but this time I got the 4-compartment Yumbox Panino instead of the 6-compartment Yumbox Original. The space utilization is better with Yumbox Panino. What I really love about Yumbox is that it's kind of reminding me and forcing me to always prepare a portion of fruit and a portion of vegetable everyday.
Following the food safety temperatures, I decided to stick with packing cold lunch, even for those food that are normally eaten hot (pizza, fried noodle, spaghetti bolognaise, prawn pasta, spinach rice with cod fish, etc). 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.
Some of my friends and readers asked me how early I have to wake up everyday or how long I need to prepare all of these. The answer is I don't wake up that early as I don't need that long to prepare the lunchbox (it's just a few minutes activity each day). The key is to make use leftover as much as possible and prepare something simpler (like sandwich).
So... here is the result of my 30 day challenge.
Day 1 - Ham & Cheese Pizza. I sometimes use oven roasted Turkey slices instead of ham. I also added chopped onions and capsicums, pineapples, and spread the cheese on top (mozarealla, cheddar, and parmesan).
Day 2 - Ham & Cheese Sandwich. It's more because I used the leftover ham (or turkey slices) from the previous pizza day to make the sandwich. This way it is more cost efficient. For the snack, I prepared Egg in A Hole, one of my son's favourites.
Day 3 - Spaghetti Aglio Olio with Prawn, a very quick and easy dish to make. It is nice to be eaten hot (for his dinner) and I spare a portion for his lunch box, which means it is eaten cold. I put red capsicum and zucchini to make sure he eats enough vegetable.
Day 4 - Tuna Sandwich. When I am lazy to cook, I just whip something up with whatever available in the cupboard / fridge. Canned tuna and mayo is always available.
Day 5 - Tricolour Pasta with Beef Cannelloni. Click this link for the Beef Cannelloni recipe: https://www.rabbitmum.com/home/beef-cannelloni
It was just a few days before Chinese New Year and as a special treat, I put a few of Piggy Pineapple Tarts in his snack box and a few of Melt-In-The-Mouth German Cookies. Click this link for the recipe for the German Cookies: https://www.rabbitmum.com/home/welcoming-the-year-of-the-pig
Day 6 - Pasta Salad. I love making this because it is full of vegetable. I put corn, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, capsicum, and sometimes I put quail eggs as the source of protein. I put a mix of olive oil, lemon, and a bit of mustard as the sauce or sometimes just french dressing.
Day 7 - Egg Sandwich, another dish for a lazy day (you'll find many of this lazy day hahahaha!). Just made the egg omelette as filling.
Day 8 - Chicken Pad Thai, usually a left-over from the dinner the night before. This is one of my son's favourite dish and I usually put either chicken or prawn as the source of protein. As I couldn't cook Thai food that well yet, I used ready sauce Kanokwan Pad Thai Paste.
Day 9 - Spinach Rice with Cod Fish, a very nutritious dish that is easy to make and delicious - it has spinach, carrot, celery, and cod fish (good source of omega-3 fatty acids).
Day 10 - Roasted Chicken in a Hot Dog Bun. Some leftover shredded roasted chicken, mixed with shredded lettuce and tomato sauce. Sometimes I use tortilla wrap instead of a bun. In this case, it would be named Chicken Wrap.
Day 11 - Sushi, one of my son's favourite. It's not difficult to make either (just a bit time consuming), and often he helps me in the kitchen to make it.
I used sushi rice (short grain), sushi vinegar (in a glass bottle), and sushi sheets (Roasted Seaweed Yakinori). For the filling, I usually get that crab stick from the supermarket or tuna mayo or salmon mayo - and sometimes also tobiko.
- Soak the rice for about 30 minutes, follow the instruction on the package. I usually do 2 cups of rice and 2 1/4 cups of water. Cook it in the rice cooker.
- Once cooked, wait for about 10 minutes before moving it to a bowl then pour the sushi vinegar. For 2 cups of rice, use 1/3 cup of sushi vinegar. Gently fold to combine.
- To make a roll - lay the seaweed sheet on the sushi rolling mat, spread the rice, line up the filling at one end, then roll it - and cut.
- To make a maki - use the mould, fill the container with half rice then put the filling, then fill with rice until full. Put the cover and press. Open it and push it to a 1/2 sheet of seaweed. Roll.
- Sometimes I just make a triangle (sort of onigiri!) or with other design.
Day 12 - Salami & Cheese Sandwich, yes another lazy day (LOL!). Although my husband is not very happy about the idea of our son eating processed food, but once in a while is ok (I say so!).
For the snack, I did one of our favourite, Orange Cupcake. Click this link for the recipe: https://www.rabbitmum.com/home/delicious-and-tangy-orange-cake
Day 13 - Quesadillas
All you need is tortilla wrap, pizza sauce, cheese, and turkey ham (or ham or salami or leftover chicken roasted in pieces etc).
Day 14 - Tricolour Pasta with Chicken-Prawn Fried Wanton, one of very rare occasions that I do deep-fried. I used minced chicken, finely chopped (or minced) prawn, seasoned with chopped garlic, salt, pepper, wrapped in wanton skin, then deep fried.
Day 15 - Tricolour Pasta with Pan-fried Fish Fillet, white fish marinated with egg wash and dipped in mixture of plain flour and parmesan seasoned with salt and pepper - and pan fried. Look at those cute homemade Piggy Bun with pork filling. My son loves it so much! I will post the recipe soon.
Day 16 - Egg Omelette with Bread
Day 17 - Egg Mayo Sandwich, I love egg mayo - but my son is not a big fan. He always make a comment on how the yellow part of the egg get sticks on his teeth and he does not like that feeling :-)
Day 18 - Bread with Mini Chicken Cocktail (okay... this was the day when I got really desperate and super lazy). Not a healthy choice!
Day 19 - Salmon Teriyaki Rice Balls
I used Sushi Rice (short grain rice).
- To make salmon teriyaki, marinate the salmon with a mixture of light soy sauce (1/2 cup), sugar (1/4 cup), ginger powder (or grated fresh ginger), and finely chopped garlic - for 1 kg of salmon.
- Heat up the soy sauce and put in the sugar until melt. Add ginger and garlic. - Dip the cut salmon (long big strip) then lay them on the tray and grill for 8 minutes in the oven set at 170 degree. Flip them and add the marinate on top and bake for another 8 minutes.
- Mix a bowl of rice with small pieces of salmon teriyaki and made them into balls.
Day 20 - Tricolour Pasta with Baked Chicken Strip. My son prefer plain pasta instead of those with sauce for his lunchbox, because he says he prefer to just be able to use his fingers instead of fork and spoon. That's why you see those plain pasta quite often in his lunchbox.
Day 21 - Rice Salad, one of my son's favourite. A very quick and easy dish to prepare and they are very healthy and nutritious, too! I usually make this for dinner and keep aside a portion to be put in the lunch box.
Day 22 - Prawn Mayo Sandwich, one of my favourite's sandwich but not my son's #1 choice :-) As a result, I could not make this too often for him. He would still eat it, but not something he is very keen on.
Day 23 - Spaghetti Bolognese
Day 24 - Beef and Cheese Burger
Made my own patty (mince beef, breadcrumb, parmesan, egg, onion, salt, pepper, basil / oregano / parsley). Quick and easy.
Day 25 - Fried Noodle (with chicken and carrot inside) and Baked Chicken Strip.
Day 26 - Crispy Macaroni and Cheese, he loves this! Its crusty top is really nice when served warm / hot for dinner. But I pack it cold in his lunchbox and he still eat it.
Click this link for the recipe: https://www.rabbitmum.com/home/crusty-macaroni-and-cheese
Day 27 - Chicken & Vegetable Omelette
Chicken Egg Foo Young (chinese omelette) for dinner (served with rice and sauce) and the same goes to his lunch box (except for the rice). The Egg Foo Young is fully loaded with vegetables (carrot, cabbage, beansprout) so he can have 2 portions of fruit in his lunch box instead of the rule of one veggie and one fruit.
Day 28 - Chicken Teriyaki with Bread, although it doesn't seem like bread is the right pair :-) But I couldn't possibly serve cold white rice as it is a bit hard and dry. So bread, it is.
Day 29 - Thai Basil, Lime, and Chicken Sausage in a Bun, an artisan sausage I bought that is gluten free, with no preservatives, artificial ingredients or extenders.
For the snack, I make Blueberry Muffins. Here is the link to get the recipe: https://www.rabbitmum.com/home/blueberry-muffins
Day 30 - Prawn Pasta in Tomato Sauce, it contains prawn, zuchini, and red capsicum. Easy and stress free.
Day 31 - Tricolour Pasta with Parmesan-crusted Salmon, another favourite in our house. Recipe to make the Parmesan-crusted Salmon can be found here: https://www.rabbitmum.com/home/parmesan-crusted-salmon
I make Banana Muffin to go in the snackbox, click this link for the recipe: https://www.rabbitmum.com/home/banana-bread
Day 32 - Egg Fried Bread, for another lazy day :-) with Anzac Biscuits for snack. Click this link for Anzac Biscuits recipe: https://www.rabbitmum.com/home/anzac-biscuits
Day 33 - Prawn Couscous Salad, just need 5 minutes to cook the couscous. I put steamed broccoli, shredded raw carrot, chopped raw capsicum, and raisins into the ready couscous. For dressing, I just use olive oil and a bit of lime. Season with salt and pepper. And a homemade raisin cheese bread for snack.
Day 34 - Minced Pork Noodle, sometimes I make my own noodle but sometimes I just get the noodle from the supermarket. The minced pork itself is quite simple, just minced pork cooked with chopped red onion, garlic, sweet soy sauce, salt and white pepper.
Pffhhh! Finally, the 30 day challenge (+4 day bonus :-)) is over!!
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.
I print this 34-day lunchbox plan and stick it on the fridge. I can always refer to this list and prepare variety of food for my always-hungry-7-year-old boy :-)
I hope you can get some inspiration from this and Happy Preparing!