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NOW CLOSED: Walkers Baked Stars would love you to share your top tips for tasty lunchbox fillers and snacks - you could win a £100 Amazon voucher(165 Posts)
Launched earlier this year, Walkers Baked Stars were designed with lunchboxes in mind and are baked for 70% less fat than potato crisps on average, contain 94 calories a pack and are a source of fibre. Available in 3 great tasting flavours: Cheese & Onion, Salt & Vinegar and Mild Sweet Chilli.
Now those friendly folk from Walkers are keen to know your top tips for making up great kids lunchboxes which make sure they get eaten! What makes a great packed lunch for your family? How do you keep it interesting and appealing?
We're thinking ahead to back to school and MN are putting together the annual emails which go out to provide tips and advice for parents whose children are moving up school or starting for the first time. Please think about the advice you think would be useful to those parents for lunchboxes and snacks during or after school. Tips posted on this thread may well be used in those emails (MN name will not be used).
We would also love to know what your general advice on snacks for children would be. For example, do you stock up on snacks? Do you let your children choose what they have? What's most popular? What's least popular?
Share your tips and advice here and you would win a £100 Amazon voucher. Everyone who adds a comment will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win!
Instead of a whole bag of crisps you can pot up some from a larger family size bag which saves money and doesn't attract so much attention from lunch box policing lunch-time supervisors.
Oh and IKEA cheap plastic cups, you know the sort, everyone has them, you get six different coloured ones for £1, can be made into an airtight and watertight lunch box pots by putting a pringles tube lid on them. I put crisps in or fruit or cheese chunks etc. You can also make your own jellies (with/without fruit in) in them overnight and just take out of the fridge, pop a lid on and bung it in the lunchbox in the morning. I also make packet mix whisk up with milk type mousse and chill it in the cups in the fridge overnight and pop a lid on in the same way. Saves money on ready made mousses and jellies.
For healthy by tasty snacks we have discovered giant flavoured ricecakes as the dc are not allowed to have crisps at snacktime. Oatcakes buttred and stuck together is also a favourite snack along with melba toast thins
Cokeaholic - that's brilliant!
Mine is get some of these
Popular lunchbox snacks in our house have included:
Small mild veg samosas
Dolmades (available in tins in our local turkish shop, more cheaply than the supermarket chiller cabilnet ones).
(all of which are stealth contributors to 5-a-day)
Things to be eaten with a cocktail stick are also popular:
'Cheese lego' - ordinary red leicester cut into lego brick chunks
Chunks of avocado
chunks of pineapple
Slices of cooked fish finger
Slices of cold sausage
I always avoided any specially packaged lunchbox food, such as pepperami or cheese strings (I'm mean / thrifty) and provided a home made version - such as a cold sausage, or the cheese lego.
And based on an old NZ favourite I made 'asparagus rolls' - an asparagus stalk rolled up in thinly cut buttered bread, sometimes with marmite, parma ham or wafer thin ham.
To be honest, my kids really like Walkers Crisps...
Pitta and hoummous and fresh fruit (juice) can sometimes be forced down, along with a nutella sandwich (stop judging me, they are teenagers....)
My ds is 4 so not at full time school yet but we do picnics and he gets very excited opening his Spiderman lunchbox .
I can't go wrong with cheese: cheese sandwiches, cheese strings, babybels, ritz cheese sandwich crackers. He loves the baked stars (as do I as I'm on a diet).
Small yoghurts and mini sausages are also a failsafe.
My dcs only get packed lunches when they go to camp in the school hols - they get very excited about them and I'm probably more treat/snack inclined (normally
far too strict about food) as its only for 2 weeks or so.
I suspect I'd be a lot more careful if they had packed lunches more frequently (and less likely to spend lots of ££££s on fun snacks, too....)
I do stock up for the hols, although I still go for pretty healthy items, but sometime just changing the presentation can be great. My dcs are all pretty young, so I'm still keen to make sure items are low salt/sugar and also easy to open.
My dcs always have sandwiches (jam & cream cheese; cheddar cheese; marmite or smoked salmon; chocolate spread on Fridays), a bottle or water, a carton of fruit juice and then a selection of 'other stuff'
Recent big winners are:
Mini vegetarian sausages
Mini breadsticks & mini hummous pots
Yoghurt drinks (sachets, bottles and funny fruit shaped ones)
Fruit-shake sachets (like the Dole/Ellas Kitchen ones)
Mini bags of cheddar cubes / mini sticks of cheddar
Walkers Baked Salt & Vinegar crisps (although dh and I tend to swipe them)
Easy peel satsumas / small bag of blueberries / mini apple
'Fruit stars' from Humdingers
Mini milky bar
Mini bag of pretzels
Things that my dd's love in a packed lunch.
Stuffed pitta's (they get bored of plain sandwiches!)
Seedy crisp breads with either thick real butter or thick cheese spread,
Breadsticks and dip,
Yogurt drinks (only if screw top)
Suck your guts out (yogurt in tubes!)
Biscuit or flapjack
The only thing they aren't allowed in a pack up at school is sweets or chocolate and I don't allow them to have Capri sun or similar foil bagged drinks as they make such a mess opening them!
The only real 'tip' that I have is to chop apple into sticks and shake it up with a sprinkle of lemon juice to stop them going brown. Ds manages much more of an apple when it is chopped up compared to arranged around an inedible core as prepared by nature.
Ricecakes, pistachio nuts, home-made flapjacks, popcorn (home-made)
I don't let kids choose snacks generally as it would always be crisps! But I do get what they like. Their favourite are Carr's Cheese Melts and pretzels. As a treat (weekends) they sometimes get crisps. Chocolate digestives for after school. Chopped up fruit for midmorning snack.
We love making popcorn. It's so easy and cheap - and great fun to watch it pop if you use a glass lidded saucepan! Just make the popcorn, tip it into a bowl, put knob of butter in still-hot pan and melt it then pour over the popcorn. Finally season with a little bit of salt, or caster sugar (tiny quantities really compared to bought snacks).
DD ( 6) adores Walkers Stars. Cheese and Onion. She gets them in her lunchbox once a week.
DS(8) has gone off sandwiches and he often wants either cheese and crackers or a few cold sausages instead. He is obsessed with how "cool" his lunch is, ie what his friends think of it, which drives me to distraction.
DD has a little Thermos food pot that I put soup in for the winter, which she loves, with some bread wrapped separately, for dipping . She is also a melon fiend, so she often gets cut up melon chunks in a little lock and lock box.
The keys, IMO, are to vary it, and to make sure you have the right containers!
The other thing is the individual packs of things are often the wrong size, either for the container, or more of something than they want or need, so I tend to buy a large pack and just giev them an appropriate helping wrapped in foil or in a little lock and lock box. Inevitably cheaper as well.
buying lots of those teeny tiny food boxes from IKEA helps you stay in control of the portion size. For example, I think a whole bag of crisps is too much for my 5yo to take with lunch, so we split a bag between two food boxes and take over two days.
the one thing that's omnipresent is a small box of fruit. We buy large amounts of cheaper "boring" fruit (apples, bananas, whatever's on offer), and much smaller amounts of "interesting" (dd1's terminology) fruit like strawberries and blueberries. We slice an apple and add just a few chopped strawberries into the box, and this gets eaten, whereas an apple on its own often doesn't.
When DS had packed lunches we got some of those fun & unusual shaped cookie cutters & used them to make his sandwiches more interesting. We made sure there was as little waste as possible (crusts for birds, hamster etc). He loved them & still talks about them now.
Boxes of raisins went down well, as did sugar free jellies (the ones on the shelf in supermarkets).
Little pots of strawberries & grapes.
Babybel (moon cheese).
Oh I forgot to add my tips!
The yogurt tubes keep lunch nice and cool and fresh if they are frozen before putting in the lunch box and by the time it's lunch time they have defrosted enough to eat.
I second the splitting portions up, dp often gets carried away with the packed lunches and puts far too much volume in, small amounts of different foods goes down well in our house.
Cool the water in the bottle in the fridge overnight to keep everything cool.
Make sure they can open / eat everything in there - ie no yoghurt's for us yet, as the lids can't be removed (3).
Ring the changes - even if its as simple as different bread (pittas, muffins, brown, white), or red leciester cheese rather than cheddar.
The biggest choice mine get is choosing the lunch bag. Food is up to me!
We like sandwiches spread with butter first, then either hummus or avocado and filled with some sort of meat or cheese. These are cut into small triangles.
For snacks, Babybel can be easily peeled, yoghurt goes down a treat. A small pot of grapes or berries, and a cut up apple. A box of raisins, a few pieces of dried apricot or dates. Pombears for a special treat.
I let mine chose what they want. If it's pasta or a few slices of homemade pizza.
I buy the tube yoghurts and freeze them. By the time it gets to lunch time they have defrosted.
Dd also loves those doughnut nectarines ( or is it peaches?)
As a treat i make really small cakes. Like bitesize fairy cakes.
Start portions smaller and build up. I also started with savoury sandwiches, then snuck in the occasional jam as a treat, so it wasn't expected all the time.
Small pots containing raisins or carrot sticks (or substitute whatever your child likes) go down a treat and get in a portion of fruit/veg. Grapes in the same wee pot are loved. Look out for cereal bars or dried fruit on offer. (It's usually expensive.)
Mini cheddars aren't crisps, but are a snack bag if you are having an am-I-feeding-my-child-healthily-enough trauma.
Bananas have a tendency to get bashed en route, consider this if you have a no bruises, Mummy, child. Apple cutters make apples novel, and if you don't cut it all the way down you can stop it going brown.
Let them choose a lunch box/ water bottle. Don't buy a cheap water bottle, our phonics book is tatty from spilled water.
All the books said couscous/wrap/pita will be loved by your child. If these tenderly created productions are met with a and a sandwiches tomorrow please, Mummy, you are not alone!
Ours tend to have similar things each day, a sandwich with various fillings cut into a shape, then humous and breadsticks, or some similar snack, some fruit/frozen smoothie, and cake/ jelly. A small amount of cheese too for them to eat after their pudding to neutralise the acid and prevent tooth decay. If they are doing a club after school then I will pop some popcorn and add some praprika or a little icing sugar to keep them going for longer.
I make the jelly and cakes in advance and freeze them. In the winter I defrost them in the fridge overnight, in the 'summer' they go in frozen and keep everything fresh.
You can dye bread (and tortilla wraps, rice, etc...) with food dyes to make lunch more interesting for little kids. I used to do smiley faces in food to tempt an awkward eater.
I try and keep it healthy, my dd has a sandwich with cheese, ham, dairylea or jam on a Friday. She has 1 - 2 pieces of fruit, either apple, pear, banana, easy peel satsuma, or strawberries. She has 1-2 frube type yogurts and fruit juice.
I also bake, either cupcakes, flapjacks, biscuits or cheesy bites as a treat, and this is my best tip, as we can do it together and she can experiment a bit. She loves crisps and snack food, but our school's policy is strict in writing, although my dd insists it isn't enforced very well, and others have crisps, chocolate, etc.
Variety is important. I would strongly suggest not getting hooked on one particular brand. I made this mistake in terms of yogurt raisins which my son adores - unfortunately, it is difficult to get the brand he likes (no idea what makes this branded version different to other yogurt raisins.) Small tub of cubed feta cheese, seeded bread and tub of fresh apple slices goes down well. Followed by a fruit smoothie on occasions. Homemade banana cake is a particular favourite with everyone for packed lunches.
Usually my DS has ham sandwich, drink of squash, tube of yoghurt and a piece of fruit. If he consistently eats all this (he prefers playing at lunch time to eating I'll add a "treat" item - home made cake, couple of plain biscuits, raisins, few squares of chocolate, packet of crisps. I keep the basic lunch the same day in day out and vary the treat, so he never expects something in particular. If I'm feeling particularly generous I'll buy a carton of drink. Variations form this are only appreciated if they are chocolatey or cake; hummus, bread sticks, soup ... well, anything else is just not eaten.
When he's being especially resistant to fruit and veg I'll meet him from school with fruit as a snack. I've discovered however much I do or don't give him at lunch, and however much he eats, he is famished at home time and will eat anything.
At home fruit is offered if the DC complain of hunger. They have to ask before they help themselves, but I would only say "no" if it was close to a meal time. I try to pre-empt them asking by having snack times (my DC are 6, 3 and 10 months) where I give a mixture of cut up fresh fruit, dried fruit and something mainly carbohydrate - biscuit, toast - and a drink.
If they had free choice they would eat bananas, biscuits, crisps and chocolate. And doughnuts. I limit these to a couple of times a week or as a pudding.
I find the best way is to let my children help pack and choose what they want that way it stays exciting for them and I know that they will eat it. It's also a great way for me to teach about making healthy and good food choices.
Fruit is always a good lunch box choice and I always vary what we have so it doesn't get boring. Chopped up cheese is always a popular extra lunch box item in our house too!
I only tend to stock up on snacks when they are on offer unless a particular favourite is requested. I know that it's much harder work for me to have my kids help to pack lunches and to allow them to make their own decisions but for me that's what makes my life easier in the long run when I know they can do it themselves independently and with the right things packed!
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