With the onset of September it feels as though summer is coming to an end and autumn is setting in along with the cold mornings and shorter days. This time of year also signals the going back to work and school which can become rather frantic and stressful, but needn\'t be unhealthy too. By planning ahead and setting aside some time to prep some healthy lunches you can make sure everyone in the family is eating well and not spending money on unnecessary and generally less healthy lunches and snacks.
Packed lunches are much more nutritious and exciting than they used to be and no longer consist of soggy sandwiches, a bag of crisps, some fruit and a chocolate bar. But this doesn’t mean you have to overcomplicate things and spend hours slaving away in the kitchen to create something better.
My Top Five Tips for Healthy, Simple Lunches
Here are my top 5 tips to creating healthy, simple lunches:
1) Bulk cook a few dishes that everyone in the family loves. It’s great to be able to rotate lunches and to do this I suggest always having a loaf of bread at the ready for easy sandwiches, but also making 2 big pasta/rice/cous-cous/quinoa dishes to have something different. Maybe, do one with a pesto and the other with a load of roasted veg in a tomato sauce. Just like that, you have 3 different options which you can have on rotation all week.
2) Be tactical at dinner the night before. Making a chilli or curry for dinner? Make an extra few portions and save the leftovers for lunch the next day. Curry always tastes better the next day anyway.
3) Healthy snack bars stocked up. It would be great if we always had time to make our own energy bars, but this just often isn\'t very practical so it’s worth filling the cupboards with healthy snack bars like those by Trek, Eat Natural and Bounce. I especially love the Bounce Vegan balls which make a much healthier alternative to a muffin or chocolate bar.
4) Keep the fruit and veg varied. Getting everyone to eat lots of fresh fruit and veg can sometimes be a challenge but making a fruit salad and keeping it in little tupperware boxes is a good tactic and ensuring you cook lots of veg to go in the main meal is a way of sneaking in at least 2 portions of veg.
5) Pack the night before and get the kids involved. So that you don\'t run out of time, whilst making dinner get the lunch box packed and ready to go. If you can, try and get the kids involved as well as this is a great way to get them to have an input and ensure everything gets eaten and allows you to teach them valuable cooking skills all at the same time.
I hope these 5 simple tips can help you create nutritious, exciting lunches which will quickly become the envy of the office or dinner hall. It may take a week or two to get into the routine of not just making sandwiches, but I guarantee, once you\'ve started mixing things up a bit you\'ll never go back to old habits and will find the lunchbox routine a pleasure and not a chore. Happy prepping!
Recipe for Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins
Here is a great healthy suggestion to go in your packed lunch too! Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins
I love a sweet treat, but don\'t love all the calories and sugar that often comes with it! So I have created a healthier version of a banana blueberry muffin which is totally refined sugar free and can be made gluten free if need be. These make a great breakfast on the go as they are full of healthy fats and protein (from the egg and peanut butter) as well as slow releasing carbs to keep you fuelled all morning.
2 ripe bananas
1 tbs of crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
25g Four Grain gluten free porridge
25g wholemeal flour (or gluten free flour)
1 free range egg
Mash the bananas and add the egg, vanilla essence and blueberries
Stir in the flour, baking powder, oats and peanut butter
Ensure mixture is well combined and pour into muffin cases
Bake for around 20-30mins at 170 degrees or until golden brown and springy to touch