If you’re already fretting about what to put in your kids’ lunchboxes in the new school year, then at least you’re not the only one.
Australia’s most celebrated and best-loved family cook, Julie Goodwin, says there have been many times over the years that she’s struggled to come up with lunch box ideas for her three sons who are now aged 21, 20 and 18.
“I know what it’s like to pack lunch boxes day in and day out, and how tricky it can be to come up with food to keep them interested that’s still healthy and no-fuss,” Julie says.
The former MasterChef winner and Star 104.5 radio host recently teamed up with Weet-Bix to devise a unique eCookbook of lunch box snacks – Julie Goodwin’s Weet-Bix Lunchbox Snacks Cookbook – which is free to download.
It features quick and easy tasty treats made with crushed Weet-Bix, including golden oat cookies, hommus dip, spinach parcels, zucchini and corn slice, seeded date loaf, samosa patties and more.
“It was a lot of fun developing recipes with Weet-Bix,” Julie says. “It just adds a good bit of fibre and a really nice texture to dishes. Any chance you get to look outside the square and try to create more interesting food for kids is worthwhile.”
Here Julie gives us her best healthy eating tips and ideas for kids.
Lunchboxes. It’s that time of year at the moment where my kids are over it … I’m thinking about buying a bento style lunch box for next year and filling with lots of healthy snacks as my kids like to graze. What would be some treats, sweet and savoury I could make on the weekend for the week?
There’s lots of really yummy sweet treat ideas in my eCookbook – like sultana pikelets, apple crumble muffins, and mini banana and strawberry loaf which are easy to whip up on the weekend and freeze. As for savoury treats, thinks like frittatas and fritters are tasty and simple to make. Just add in some grated vegies and top with a little sour light cream.
School Holidays. Coming up to the big school holiday period … what would be some great ice block recipes to make?
My boys love my frozen yoghurt ice blocks. Just whizz up some bananas or mango in the blender with a bit of yoghurt and pop them into ice block containers freeze. It’s a great treat for kids during summer.
My son is nine and wants to cook without me helping. Have you got a dinner recipe that would suit this age group?
Chicken wings that are already cut into pieces, which kids can just sprinkle some herbs and spices over and something like a teriyaki or barbecue sauce, that are then popped into the oven. There’s no knife work involved. Just make sure you explain how to turn on and off the oven and safely remove a tray.
Okay, working mum rush meal in 10 minutes or less?
So first make sure you have the ingredients in your house to start with! You can easily grill some chicken, fish or a pork chop under the grill in 10 minutes and whip up a quick salad whilst you wait. If you’re after carbs just throw a potato in the microwave and then serve it with a little side of salad. If I want to make a quick dish in 20 minutes I play this game called “Race the rice”. My rice goes into the microwave on high for 18 mins. The goal is to then have the rest of the meal finished by time it’s done. You can do a lot of quick things like a stir fry in the meantime.
What’s a good freeze ahead meal for lunch?
My boys love bread so they’ve always liked sandwiches for lunch which are easy to prepare ahead and freeze. Good quality ham, rocket and aioli sandwiches freeze well. As does corned beef, mango chutney and Jarlsberg cheese. Just pop them frozen into a lunchbox in the morning and they will thaw out by lunchtime.
We love to have a movie night in our house every Friday night and have some sweet treats! Must have chocolate. What’s a treat that your kids love you making?
Look if you have to have chocolate, then I’d say my chocolate brownies. There’s never any leftovers!
We had a question from Nadia Jameson: “What are some good recipes to sneak in extra veggies other than spag bol and sausage rolls? Especially for the lunch box?”
The Zucchini and Corn slice from the eCookbook has been hugely popular with everyone I’ve served it to. It obviously has zucchini in it, but if your kids don’t like zucchini just call it cheese slice! You could also sneak in some corn kernals or grated capsicum. See the recipe below. It’s also suitable to freeze and reheat, and can be eaten hot or at room temperature
Zucchini and Corn Slice
2 Sanitarium Weet-Bix, crushed
2 zucchinis, grated
1 large carrot, grated
1 large onion, finely chopped
420g can corn kernels, drained
1 cup tasty cheese, grated
½ cup self-raising flour
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 Preheat over to 170C. Great and line a non-stick 20 x 30cm lamington tray.
2 Combine zucchini, onion, carrot, corn, flour, Weet-Bix and cheese in a large bowl.
3 Add oil and lightly beaten eggs, and mix. Season with salt. Pour into the lamington tray.
4 Bake for 35- 40 mins until golden and set. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.