Confession: Sometimes I do a little happy dance around my kitchen. It normally entails flailing of hands awkwardly in one direction whilst my legs do something really uncool and Dad-like, and at the same time mouthing words to a song from the ’90’s that nobody under the age of 30 can relate to on any level. A personal favourite is “It’s my Life” by Dr Alban. I glide about my kitchen skate-less and lost in time for 10 to 30 seconds. A pattern has emerged for such ridiculous but oh so satisfying behaviour.
Normally on Friday nights we will have a standard grade performance. A souped up rendition occurs on nights when the kids have an unexpected day off the following day. And the ferocity of such festivities increases in intensity as the term goes on.
Why, such animation you ask?
No lunch boxes – that’s why. The lunch box. An object so simple yet can be so soul-destroying when you fall into the dreaded lunch box rut. There is no mad mathematical scientific solution that can be applied to this problem to solve it – no one fits all. However I have found over the past few years of my lunchbox filling life that it is in the simple solutions lies sanity. Small tips that you pick up from friends with regards to what they pop in a lunch box make all the difference. The little things that never dawned on me prior to sharing ideas.
I’ve teamed up with Brady Ham and Homebird to share some of my top lunch box fillers. Homebird & Brady Family Ham are great go-to products for school lunches as they are 100% IRISH, high quality, offer great variety and convenience. They are great tasting and healthy for children too! Like I said, it’s not rocket science, just simple solutions that vary from using last nights pizza dinner left overs (right confessions I make extra specifically to have lunch box leftovers) to easy assemble bagels. Both brands offer slices and pieces/torn ranges so making them super convenient, without compromising on quality. Time saver & sanity saver.
Here are a few simple lunchbox ideas that will hopefully see you through a lunchbox slump. All have been carefully chosen to use as many local/Irish ingredients possible alongside Brady Ham and Homebird Chicken or Turkey.
Baby Club Roll:
Brady Family Traditional Irish Ham Slices
Homebird Irish Roast turkey
Brioche Hotdog roll
Assemble roll with the ingredients above and cut in half.
Natural Yoghurt with homemade apple sauce puree:
I used Irish Pink lady apples. Simply peel and slice into 1-2 inch chunks. Add to a pan with 1 inch of water. Bring to boil and then turn down heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Blend with stick blender and leave to cool. Store in fridge in sealed container.
Pot of Irish blueberries and strawberries mixed. Simple.
Multi Seed Brown Bread crackers with Irish butter.
Homemade spelt pizza with Brady shredded ham:
I use this on days where we have pizza or dinner the night before. I simply make an extra one and the kids have it cold in their lunch boxes the next day. I make my dough in the bread maker but you can make this by hand too.
300 g spelt flour
1/2 tsp dry yeast
170 ml water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
I pop this in my bread maker on the pizza dough setting. But you can hand mix this and leave to prove in a warm place for an hour after making. Cover with a slightly damp tea towel to prevent it getting dry.
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp oregano (dried or fresh)
Grated Cheddar and Mozzarella
Brady Family Wood Smoked Shredded Ham
I add all the ingredients to my blender and whizz them. Then I bring to boil in a pan and simmer until the sauce is thick enough to spoon on my dough. This can take about 20 minutes. I bulk make this and freeze it for when I want to make pizzas.
Flour your surface and roll out your pizza dough as thinly as you can manage. I normally end up a rectangle. I pop this on a floured baking tray with no sides (so it is easy to slip the dough on and off).
Using a spoon a spread the pizza sauce on the dough. Sprinkle grated cheddar and mozzarella on top of the sauce. Next I sprinkle the Brady family wood smoked torn ham on and cover this with some more grated cheese.
A little oregano and a drizzle of olive oil at the very end makes this pizza super tasty.
Cook the pizza in a really hot oven (250C if yours goes this high) for roughly 5 minutes on the tray. I then ease it off the tray and directly onto the oven rack for a further 2-3 minutes cooking. This gets the base nice and crispy. Just keep and eye on it and you will know when it is ready.
Leave to cool and slice. Store in fridge overnight once cool and pop into lunch box in the morning.
A small pot of Irish Vanilla yoghurt with no added sugar with some local chopped fruit on top
Hummus with carrot sticks &/or bread sticks to dip.
Wholemeal Bagel Slim with Homebird with Aromatic Tikka Irish Roast Chicken Slices, Irish butter and spinach:
This new flavour is a big hit with me and so convenient for adding an extra spice to a lunchbox
Mini skewers with Charleville cheddar & grape halves. I chop the sharp end off the skewer – but you can pop these in a little pot also if you prefer.
A pot of Irish blackberries
1 hard-boiled egg – peeled and sliced
Skewers with Homebird Traditional Irish Roast Chicken pieces, sliced cucumber, and Brady Traditional ham pieces:
Again a pot may suit here too rather than the skewer.
Local Natural live yoghurt with chopped strawberries. Optional teaspoon of honey if needed.
Brown bread crackers with local market cheese
Pasta salad with basil pesto and Brady Family Traditional Ham Pieces
Simple cook your pasta as directed. Leave to cool completely. Stir in the pesto & Brady Family Traditional Ham Pieces.
Local Fruit compote pot in apple and strawberry.
Pot of Irish Blackberries & blueberries.
Pot of bread sticks
There’s also my Homebird and Brady Club sandwich as an option which you can see here.
I’m certainly no expert on lunch boxes but I’m happy to share what I have learned – little tips that make my life easier every day.
Lunchbox shopping – I bring the kids when I do my lunchbox shop. Get them to open the box before buying it. If they can’t do it themselves without getting stressed or needing help then don’t buy it. Also consider washing it every night. It’s going to be difficult then leave it behind you.
Lunch trials – No, it’s not a mini version of the lunchbox Olympics that I mean. If you have a little one starting pre-school or primary school in September its a great idea to fill up their box a few days before school starts and sit down with them and eat. You forget that the have no idea what to eat when or how to have a small and/or big lunch. It’ll take the stress out of it for them.
Peel the oranges – It’s little tips like this that you learn from chatting to friends. Unpeeled oranges will simply come back home again uneaten or squashed to within and inch of their life. Or worse, the rest of the lunch will come back untouched as he or she spend the whole lunch break trying to get into that orange.
Your’s, about to get stuck into tackling the school shoes next,
Homebird on special for €2 in Dunnes, Tesco & Supervalu nationwide commencing 15th August – 11th September however dates vary between stores.
Brady Family on special in Tesco & Supervalu nationwide commencing 6th September – 9th October however dates vary between stores.
This is a paid partnership with Brady Family Ham and Homebird Chicken and Turkey.