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