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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!
I make sure I am putting things in the lunchboxes that the children will eat and keep the new foods for home, as I hate the idea of them being hungry during the day just because I wanted them to try something new.
I keep their lunchboxes varied and healthy. although their school must be quite relaxed as apparently I am the only mum who doesn't put cakes and chocolate bars in every day (so my DDs tell me).
Flat peaches and flat nectarines and easy peel satsumas have been by far the most successful fruit for lunchboxes this year, although a pot of strawberries always goes down well too.
DD is still v young so I choose, otherwise she would subsist on berries! She is only 2 so has easy open pots and doesn't need to open anything herself - so sandwiches cut in small triangles, pasta, grapes, cheese cubes, peeled satsuma, the odd treat snack like a fruit-juice sweetened biscuit or rice pudding.
Something filling, nutritious and well known to my children is the way to go with packed lunches in this house. They don't find surprises and unfamiliar things appealing, predictable is good. New things have to be trialed at home, to make sure they won't come home having had no lunch.
Friday is 'treat' day for packed lunches, so they get something like a cake or biscuit. It makes it easier for me when we've inevitably run out of yogurts at the end of the week .
My children don't choose their own snacks. We always have crisps and chocolate biscuits in the house, but these aren't freely available to the children. They're inherently greedy kids and would be scoffing all day and avoiding healthier foods if given free rein on 'empty' calorie snacks. Of the everyday snacks, they most like grain bars, berries and cheese. Of the treat snacks, they like crisps such as Pom Bears (of course) and biscuits.
The kids tried the cheese and onion Walkers Stars last week actually, on a picnic, and really liked them .
Pavked lunches usually consist of various combinations of sandwich/pasta/bagel, yogurt, sausage roll, crisps, breadsticks, carrot/cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes.
I have a cutter that cuts sandwiches into dinosaur shapes, which usually encourages the kids to eat them. Little pots/boxes with a few items in seems to keep them quite entertained too as they think it's like a picnic.
For snacks we tend to have open access to fruit so the kids can help themselves. We also have some biscuits/crisps/breadsticks etc. in the cupboard as they're quite handy (they don't need any prep). We let them have stuff like that but try to keep it in moderation. Dd1 is big on fruit but dd2 is more fussy and likes bagels most.
DS is 5 and going into his second year at school. We do a range of wraps and sandwiches which can consist of ham, cheese, tuna etc. he takes fruit for his snack at playtime. We also bake very low or sugar free muffins. They are packed with fruit so you really don't need sugar as it leaches out of the Barry's, banana, raisins etc you put in. I then freeze these and put them forzen in a tub in his lunch box and they defrost by lunchtime. We add carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, a box of raisins, cubed cheese, chopped kiwi, satsuma and so on. We sometimes add a yoghurt but he is not to fussed. I give him quite a lot as he is starving. He always eats his lunch but never drinks his juice. But he drinks lots of water in the daytime so not a worry.
My tips are batch make cakes, flapjacks etc as these freeze really well and can then be thrown in frozen and help keep the lunch bag cool whilst they deforst.
DS has never stated that his friends have this or that, but this may change. If he does, I would let him choose a small selection of what goes in his lunch, he does this already with fruits, fillings etc. I wouldn't feel the need to give into peer pressure for unhealthy items, but would buy him something healthy if he wanted it to match his friends.
To keep it interesting he helps me bake his cake and picks some of his lunch too. As a family we often take a packed lunch on days out. We follow the similar style of bento like eating. Lots of small tubs filled with nuts, cut up fruit, veg, dips, wraps etc. we like this way of eating And everyone gets something they like. Since we are not all generic and like our own things. It also means I don't make individual lunches. We just take a broad array of tubs with food and share it!
DS is milk allergic, so we were limited on shop-bought lunchbox fillers. I got imaginative and made things look nice:
-Marmite and peanut butter sandwich spirals (1slice of bread, spread, roll up bread, slice the roll into spirals)
-fresh picked garden fruit kebabs on straws
-oaty banana smoothies
-"sunny" rice with boiled egg and turmeric
My main aim was to get calories into DS, as dairy free foods are often low fat. I have been known to add olive oil to things just to up the calories.
My son is very fussy. To combat this, he used to have a 'menu' (6 fruit choices, 6 sandwich choices, 6 drink choices, 6 snack choices etc.) which he would tick and choose at the start of the week for each day. This helped with the shopping part of it and meant he had 'chosen' what he wanted to eat, so he was more likely to eat it.
We gradually moved away from this and he would accept a rotation of the same things each day. He also won points if he tried something new in his lunchbox and could 'earn' treats on Fridays if he'd eaten well/ tried something different.
My oldest is not in full time school yet so have only had to do pack lunches here and there not for every day, but he does tend to eat stuff like carrott or cucumber sticks, any fruit, sandwiches, rice cakes or cheese kind of things.
If i put cake or chocolate things in i think he would just eat that and dump the rest, if i wasn't watching him.
Luckily he finds pack lunches quite exciting so that tends to make him eat it but not sure if the novelty would wear off if its a daily thing (probably!)
Think I would find it quite hard getting variety in it every day so hoping he will be alright with school dinners when he starts in sept, otherwise will have to come back here for more ideas
My DC are the opposite of most - they have school lunches during term, so packed lunches are holiday club stuff only nowadays, although DD used to have packed lunch every day at nursery. Because of that, I am probably a bit more relaxed about 'treats' than I would be if it were term time (no, there is no logic to that).
Generally they have a sandwich or wrap (they prefer wraps) which I wrap in clingfilm and then pack a savoury snack of some sort in a box with it - cherry tomatoes, or cucumber, or babybel/bits of cheese, or sometimes cocktail sausages (which I cook in bulk and freeze in portions). They will then have some sort of bagged savoury thing (generally crisps - but holiday clubs are pretty much the only time they get crisps, but sometimes baked snacks of some sort), some fruit or a yoghurt, and a piece of cake (I will do a tray bake at the beginning of the week and slice it up for the week).
If it were me, I would vary it more. If they were having them all term, maybe they would want to vary it more, but as it is every time I offer them variation they want "the same as yesterday"
I like lots of small portions of several different things in a lunch box. Cheese, mini sausages, mini breadsticks, cherry tomatoes, pitta bread strips, pasta with pesto, a bit of leftover chicken etc. Small sized fruits - small apples, clementines, a few grapes or berries etc.
I like to include a frontage frais that doesn't need to be eaten with a spoon, because they're always forgotten or, if theyre packed in the first place they don't make it home. So, squashums, frontage frais pouches, frubes etc. in the summer I freeze them to keep the lunchbox cool and they're defrosted by lunchtime.
As a special treat I will also include a fruit smoothie pouch.
I second Cunnings batch cook and freeze, and then pop in the lunch box frozen. This works with flapjacks and oat biscuits really well. I go for bite sized items - cherry tomatoes, small sandwiches, slices of malt loaf, satsumas etc.
Something different every day, and something new every week (DD is only a toddler so can still do this, and she eats new things better if she is with her CM than with us). So she will have each day, cold salmon or cold meat, a portion of cheese (different types), a yoghurt (different flavours), a vege dish to be heated up (pasta, lentils, beans, or some kind of gratin) and a piece of fruit.
So I guess my tip is variety.
DS has packed lunch at school most days and DD1 is going to start taking a packed lunch to preschool, but I find it easier to do a packed lunch for all of us each morning so I don't have to worry about what to have at lunch. All our packed lunches include something starch (usually bread or a roll), something protein (ham, cheese, peanut butter, nutella, fromage frais), a piece of fruit and some vegetable (carrot, cucumber, cherry tomato, sugarsnap peas).
Sometimes I'll cut sandwiches into shapes. Sometimes I'll do rolled up sandwiches (use a rolling pin to flatten a piece of bread and then rolled up with either ham or chocolate spread). DS also loves stripey rolls (a finger roll cut up shortwise and sandwiched back together with chocolate spread).
What works for is making things look nice and appealing, as DD is the type to not really feel that hungry when she really ought to eat. Small portions of quite colourful food seem to appeal to her, so I add things like cherry toms/pepper slices/carrot sticks and mini pots of hoummous (cliche alert), and colourful fruit, along with her sandwich/roll. I try to make the sandwich not too beige, as they don't seem to pique her appetite well. And I know form bitter experience that she wont use cutlery in a packed lunch (?) so anything like pasta salad, yoghurt pots are out.
Flapjacks/traybakes also excellent for adding in some more calories. Obv cooked with raisins/cranberries to make them a bit more colourful.
Frozen yoghurt and frozen grapes / water bottles help to keep lunch boxes cool.
Alternating bread And fillings helps with variation, my dc particularly like mini pittas and tortillas filled then rolled and sliced into bite size pieces.
It works out cheaper to decant your own tubs of raisins, jelly, custard etc from larger bags or portions.
My tip. Don't put too much in. Just because they aren't at home doesn't mean they'll die of malnutrition.
If they start eating everything bar sandwiches them start removing yogurts etc till they eat the bread
I'm not sure if my contribution can count here, as my DD has school dinners. That's been mostly due to circumstances though as stuff is hectic at home and it was easier to pay for the convenience instead of doing her lunches ourselves. She is desperate for packed lunches like her friends next year though.
The main problem with DD is that she isn't mad about sandwiches! She prefers a sort of salady plate thing - crackers, bits of cheese, veggie sticks, chopped fruit. Getting some of her 5 a day is pretty easy but not as varied as I'd like. She would be happy to eat the same each day which is something I don't understand - I get bored easily!
I totally agree with what was said upthread though - rather give her what I know she will eat than risk an untouched lunchbox coming home.
School seem fairly strict on chocolate etc which I am happy about TBH as it means I don't have to worry about "but my friend Jenny has blah blah every day why can't I" etc!
If we are having picnics or when DD has had a one off packed lunch for a school trip we have used stuff like cheestrings, pepperami etc, but can't afford that for every day. I guess we will be needing lots of little Tupperware pots to chop stuff into...
(I really like the baked stars BTW)
I really fancy getting some of those shaped sandwich cutters
Both of mine (7 and 4) eat eat quite a lot and are always hungry so this is what there lunch usually is;
2 pieces of fruit
and small treat eg raisens, biscuit, crisps, ritz cracker or wee cup cake etc
If they stop eating the fruit/sandwich too often (but eat the treat) the treat gets stopped.
Mine are quite samey as both quite fussy, my tips are giving them a choice eg which bread, filling or choosing the fruit, little pots and containers for everything so nothing gets squashed inc sandwich.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Despite being SuperMum when they were little and pureeing organic veggies and chicken livers into ice cube trays this has not worked to any advantage now that they are 10 and 7!
They both love ALL raw veg which I should be grateful for. This includes cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms and they would both sit happily shelling peas out of the shell!
Fruit - they like berries and melon and cherries and squashed peaches. Not keen on apples, bananas and oranges!
For snacks they quite like crisps, pom bears, yoyo bears fruit whirly things, school bars but both hate raisins.
Packed lunches are very boring. DS1 has nutella on brown bread or pepperami and a shed load of veg, drink, yoyo, frube.
DS2 has parmesan on brown bread, small cake, loads veg, frube, drink.
Snacks are in the kitchen if they want something but they do have to ask.
DD likes ham or tuna/sweetcorn rolls. She'll eat salad, raw veggies (when I have time to peel and chop them and arrange them nicely in a suitably-sized tupperware). I try to put a smoothie or pure fruit juice in too, as well as a couple of pieces of fruit (apples, berries in a pot are the most popular). Occasionally I'll put in some crisps or biscuits. I often put in a pack of yoghurt-covered raisins or strawberries - they're devoured and I feel that they're 'healthier' than other sweet options, though given their sugar levels they're probably just as bad.
DS(6) normally has school dinners, but we are currently on 5 weeks of packed lunches for holiday club.
DS is a v good eater, and likes to pick and choose from the contents of his box as the strange child will happily leave his biscuit or crisps if he doesn't feel like eating them but likes the option.
I use weaning pots to put little fruit jellys in and yogurt from a big pot, or chopped kiwi fruit. He likes a box of salad with cherry toms, chopped raw carrot, and broccoli to pick through.
If I am feeling generous, I'll do cucumber and roast chicken sushi rolls (v easy to make and I like avocado and sweet chilli chicken for my lunch), but generally lunches have to be minimum effort.
We do the shopping list for lunches together, so he gets to choose from what there is - so we have 6 diff fruits in this week, 4 diff sandwich things etc.
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