“Your goal for your kids’ lunch box is for the food to get eaten and be healthy, but also to do all of that without too much trouble.”
Because not only do they need to be healthy and delicious, but also nut-free, low waste, non-perishable, Instagram worthy, budget friendly and the envy of every kid on the playground.
Yeah, it’s a lot.
Having packed hundreds of lunchboxes over the years for her three sons, Goodwin’s become very well acquainted with the school lunch struggle. She’s also learnt a bunch of handy tricks along the way.
So we asked her for her top lunchbox tips, and gee they’re bloody good.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
Just the same way we reach for the sugary snacks when we couldn’t be bothered doing meal prep, kids will come home hungry if we don’t put in a bit of prep work.
“Keeping things varied is pretty important, and keeping them interested, for simplicity on the parents’ side, anything you can do pre-made to portion out and freeze is absolutely brilliant. That’s what my husband and I did all the way through our boys’ schooling, and we do it now for ourselves too,” Goodwin told Mamamia.
“Make up on the weekend, a zucchini slice and then every day you grab and go. It saves that drudgery of every day having to figure out what you’re doing, getting everything out of the fridge and the pantry and make a big mess.”
Other prep suggestions from Julie include kid-friendly sushi you can make up a few days in advance, and putting things into little containers like tzatziki yoghurt dips, and veggies and crackers.
Goodwin also said not to stress too much about what not to pack. “Listen to the advice coming out of schools. We all know what you’ve got to avoid. There are some delicious things you can put in without going outside your school guidelines.”
Have fun with new recipes.
“What you want when your kid opens their lunchbox is to go ‘YEAH!’ and to show it off to their friends. You don’t want it coming home because you go to the expense and effort. There are so many things you can do that’s not a Vegemite sandwich and an apple,” Goodwin insisted.
“What I love and if you went and looked in my freezer right now you’d see it, is zucchini slice. Zucchini and corn slice, chuck it all in, put it in the oven and 20 minutes later cut it up into pieces and freeze. And it defrosts beautifully, that’s an easy one for us and kids.”
Some of Goodwin’s other favourites include homemade cookies with oats, grains and honey instead of sugar; pikelets, which you can make together and get the kids involved (“put some sultanas in them, wrap and freeze and grab when you need to,” she said), homemade hummus with flatbread, and pastry parcels with spinach.
Check out some of Julie Goodwin’s favourite lunchbox recipes in the gallery below. (Post continues after audio…)