Chef and dad of three Scott Pick­ett shares his tips for keep­ing lunchboxes in­ter­est­ing for the start of the school year.

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - BY DAN STOCK


ASANDWICH and a piece of fruit. While there’s noth­ing nu­tri­tion­ally wrong with this lunch­box fail­safe, there’s noth­ing par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing about it, ei­ther. But in the mad rush of get­ting the clan up, fed, clothed and out the door ev­ery morn­ing it’s easy to fall into quick fixes that work. But as a third of a child’s en­ergy in­take is con­sumed while at school, it pays to put a bit of thought into how best to cram that lunch­box with nu­tri­ents, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als that are vi­tal for their health and growth. Not even celebrity chefs are im­mune from the task of mak­ing good food in­ter­est­ing for their kids when the can­teen calls. Estelle chef Scott Pick­ett says be­ing pre­pared is the key to mak­ing morn­ings easy. “We map out the week, what we’re eat­ing at night. We try and plan and that helps us,” he says of get­ting Harry, 11, Matilda, 9 and Os­car, 5, off with some­thing de­li­cious and nu­tri­tious in their lunchboxes. One of the best ways to get kidsds to eat their lunch, Pick­ett says, is to get them in­volved in the process, from shop­ping to cook­ing. “Get the kids in­volved in mak­ing their lunches. It’s great for their food ed­u­ca­tion. We choose a recipe to­gether, so that means they’re in­volved and in­ter­ested in what they want to cook,” he says. “Our deal with the kids is that they have to eat ev­ery­thing in their lunch­box. We’ll talk through it as it’s packed in the morn­ing when it’s ready. But some­times they’ll do the old play­ground trade for some­thing else.” Pick­ett says bak­ing on the week­end is a good way to get ready for the week ahead. “Quite of­ten on a Sun­day af­ter­noon we’ll bake, and these can be used for the kids’ lunches the next week. The choc-apri­cot date balls (see recipe) are great whacked into the freezer. “Or we might have the cookie jar ready to go with An­zac bis­cuits, or a slice, or a healthy muesli type of thing. It’s one treat we get ready at the start of the week for the rest of the week.” Pick­ett says ev­ery­thing in mod­er­a­tion is fine, in­clud­ing lunch­box treats. “I’m a big be­liever in ev­ery­thing in mod­er­a­tion. You don’t want too much sugar and too much fat and too many silly things in the lunch­box, but if you have a slice, and give it a lit­tle brush of choco­late on the top, and they get that once or twice a week, then that’s OK.” Va­ri­ety is also key to get­ting lunch eaten when the play­ground is call­ing. “Mix­ing it up is im­por­tant for the kids, and it’s the ba­sis for a healthy diet. Some fi­bre, some fruit, some veg­eta­bles. Some dif­fer­ent meats and lit­tle treats. It’s a good bal­anced diet and that should start from the lunch­box.” So to help plan in­ter­est­ing school lunches for the term ahead, take some in­spi­ra­tion from Pick­ett’s four lunch menus that are bound to en­sure ev­ery lunch­box comes home empty.

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