A mum of four shares her lunchbox hacks that keep apples fresh, fibre up and costs down.

kids lunchboxes
Sultana Bran Buds
Thanks to our brand partner, Sultana Bran Buds

As a mum of four, I know how hectic mornings can be when you’re a parent. You’re juggling it all – making breakfast, packing lunches, doing hair, yelling at someone to wake up, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, finding their shoes, and wondering who let the dog inside or what you’re forgetting, and where is that note you were supposed to sign and get back in last week?

Let’s be honest, you once thought that the older your kids got, the easier it would be. But boy, were you wrong. It’s just a different kind of hard and now you have to be a different kind of organised. Especially when it comes to that tricky part of everyday life: the lunchbox!

The first obvious tip when it comes to school lunches is to be prepared and organised. Prepare for the week ahead on a Sunday and pack lunches the night before.

But, I’m going to share some game changers and fun tips that I have learnt along the way, to help you become a “School Mum/Dad” Master. Or at least, you can pretend that you are, kind of like what I do. Fake it ’til you make it!

1. Two great snacks for recess.

Having a family of six, I am always on the lookout for snack ideas that are quick, easy and as healthy as possible. When it comes to my kid’s lunchboxes, they need them to be tasty, while I need them to be nutritious and something I can prepare in bulk on a Sunday.

Here are a few recess ideas that save me time, money (and sanity), that taste good and are good:

  • Muffins with hidden fruit and veggies: Look, we aren’t all Betty Crocker in the kitchen. So here is a cheap and easy way to make some yummy muffins, filled with the good stuff. I buy a cake packet mix from the grocery store for 75 cents (they come in vanilla, butter cream or chocolate) and then throw in whatever I like or have handy. Some ideas are frozen berries, seeds, sultanas, mashed banana, apple puree or grated zucchini. Zucchini is the miracle vegetable – if you grate it, once the muffins are cooked, you can’t taste it. Pop some berries, mashed banana or choc chips in with grated zucchini and you’re laughing. It’s the best way to trick your kids into eating their vegetables. Each packet makes approximately twelve muffins. Bake them on a Sunday, put them in an air tight container and freeze. I take out what I need the night before, and pack into the lunch box for the next day.
  • Sultana Bran Buds: What! But they’re a breakfast cereal? Well yes, but they are also an awesome snack alternative during the day. I buy a 450g box of Sultana Bran Buds, divide it into 12 snack-size servings each Sunday and store for an easy lunchbox option. It ends up being cheap and easy for me, plus the kids love them and they are high in fibre, and have a 4.5 Health Star Rating. They are a tasty way to help them get fibre and essential nutrients such as Iron and B Vitamins.
Want one? Sultana Bran Buds are delicious, compact and high in fibre. Image: Supplied.

2. No more brown apples.

Have your kids ever complained that the apple you cut up and peeled for them for “Munch and Crunch” (aka fruit break) went brown and then they refused to eat it? Well, mine have. So, I spent hours researching and mastering the art of fresh crisp apples, peeled and cut.

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Here are two ways to avoid your kid’s apples turning brown in their lunch box:

Soak your apples - For each one cup of water, use either one tablespoon of lemon juice or two tablespoons of honey. Mix until well diluted and allow your apples to soak for five to 10 minutes. Once soaked, drain them off and pack them as normal into your child’s lunch box.

Get your MacGyver on – Cut your apple up in a hashtag (#) pattern, with the core at the centre. Then use a rubber band to hold it together, until it is ready to be eaten. This prevents exposure to the air and the rapid oxidation, that causes the discolouration of apples.

Apple
This is the hashtag cutting style - but if you don't put a rubber band around it, it'll go brown. Image: Getty.

3. Don't buy an expensive lunchbox.

Forget buying expensive lunch boxes with those fancy compartments. That will set you back anywhere from $20 to $60. You can "mum hack" one for $5, using one of Kmart’s silicone “giant ice cube trays” for $1.50 and a 600ml rectangle Tupperware container for $3.50. They're dishwasher friendly, easy to clean, store and save yourself a small fortune (this idea is from Rough Diamond, see below).

Just a wee bit of genius from @reve.ever ... a very handy #kmarthack using the large ice cube trays ($2 ... which make...

Posted by Rough Diamond on Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Bonus lunchbox hack:

Need to keep your food fresh and your lunch box cool? No problem – here is a hack that will make you five reusable freezer blocks for just 70 cents each.

Buy a five pack of sponges for $1.60 from the cleaning section of your local supermarket, and a 25-pack of sandwich bags for just $1.95.

Dampen the sponge, place it in the sandwich bag (perfect fit) and place in freezer. Voila! You have an inexpensive, reusable and multipurpose freezer block. The perfect DIY mum hack, for under $4, with left over materials to use elsewhere.

Got a smart lunchbox hack no-one else knows about? Share it below!

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Kellogg's® Sultana Bran Buds®


© 2018 Kellogg Company. ®, Registered trade marks. Kellogg (Aust.) Pty. Ltd. authorised user. ™ Trade Mark.

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