This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Jacks supermarket. All opinions are honest and my own
I think I speak on behalf of all Mums and Dads when I say that our absolute favourite part of parenting is deciding what to feed everyone under our respective roof’s every day and for what feels like eternity. Honestly, it is so much fun. Especially if you have a family like mine who when faced with the question of what they want to eat, can only muster a disinterested “I don’t mind…”
Only, they absolutely do mind of course! I proved this by once giving them the same sandwich everyday for weeks to see when they would object. It didn’t end well.
Truth be told it was an absolute own goal on my part because now NOBODY is massively keen on sandwiches anymore which means coming up with something a bit more exciting. Add into that the past 12 months of utter monotony, tired kids and an impending Easter break from School (which, by the way they have surely only been back to for about 10 minutes?!) and you have a recipe for a headache!
You might remember the Halloween party food post from last year? Well, Jacks has swooped in to the rescue again! This time around I wanted to show you that you do not have to spend a lot to make some lunches that even the pickiest kids (hi, Moose, I’m looking at you..) will love!
Yes of course you can use these ideas for school lunches. However, I have devised a cunning idea for the school holidays too!
Instead of dealing with their continuous requests for food throughout the day I am going to pack them a home lunch. If it is in their lunch bag then they can have it – but if not then sorry kiddos!
It sounds a bit mean but as well as the concerns about their health if they keep chomping like Pac-Man we also have to think about how much we are spending!
Like a lot of families we have a fairly strict budget when it comes to the food shop and the school holidays really make a dent in this. That’s why supermarkets like Jack’s are awesome for us.
Not only are the prices on par with other budget supermarkets – with the added bonus of fruit and veg which seems to stay fresh for longer than those bought from competitors. Jacks is part of Tesco which means it stocks lots of familiar products too. They have a lovely fresh bakery area and a really cool app. The shop smart app means that you can scan your shopping using your smartphone to keep track of your spending and save time at the checkout as you have already done the legwork!
Fill em up ideas
Pesto pasta salad
This is one of those dishes I make once and pick at all week. If I am cooking pasta anyway I will chuck an extra few handfuls in so that I can prep a lovely pesto pasta salad for us to have for lunch during the week.
All you need is cooked pasta, chopped up tomatoes, some chicken if you have it and then your pesto sauce. Due to a weird lockdown glitch whereby I forgot I had already bought pesto we have it coming out of ears so I use a spoon of that and sprinkle over some pine nuts. If you don’t have a pesto habit like me that’s ok! You can knock up a pesto with what you have in the fridge or freezer.
You will need oil. Olive is good but whatever you have is fine. You will need cheese (preferably parmesan but that tub of Italian hard cheese you bung on spag bol will work just fine) and pine nuts if you have them. Garlic and lemon juice too (the bottle of lemon juice you bought for pancake day and a jar of lazy garlic are what I use)
To those ingredients you need to add either basil (which you are unlikely to have laying around) or you could add peas or even the bagged salad leaves you usually chuck out at the end of the week. Whizz it all up together adding salt and pepper to taste and stir through your cooked pasta.
Store bought potato salad is (in my opinion) a bit rubbish. It always tastes bland to me and the texture is all wrong. I much prefer homemade. It is nice and easy on the wallet and tastes amazing! Yes you can put it with something else but Bess and I could happily munch our way through a bowl of this stuff on it’s own.
Nothing fancy here. Potatoes (small ones are best) chopped and boiled with salt and pepper, mayo and chopped onion.
Cream Cheese Bagels
My children seem to have a strongly held belief that if it is on my plate then food must be delicious. They are, of course, absolutely correct but it still kinda sucks when I lose half my lunch to them.
Cream cheese bagels are simple and very satisfying. You can top them with anything you like of course but my favourite is cucumber – and sometimes smoked salmon. I chop the cucumber up to make the bagel easier to bite into without losing any of it.
Just lately I have loved a tortilla wrap as an alternative to sandwiches and quesadillas are a fun way to eat them. Better than wraps because they can be packed flat. You can use any filling you like.
My favourite is chicken and sweetcorn and cheese with BBQ sauce. Tasty hot or cold and the kids love them too!
One of my moments of genius was born – as so many are – out of necessity. We ran out of bread and the kids needed feeding. So, I spread a wrap with lotus biscoff spread, peeled a banana and rolled it up! I sliced it into sections and presented it to my children as banana sushi. You know something’s a hit when the teenager shares a photo of it with her friends..
Easy pitta and dip
Another easy lunch is crudité and dip. Now, my 6 year old will not entertain the idea of eating raw veg so I had to settle for pitta. You might be able to make yours healthier by using carrot sticks instead!
The dip is just yoghurt, cucumber and half a tsp of mint sauce. Really easy, healthy and cheap!
Grab it and go lunch
Not gonna lie, some days we either wake up late or for whatever reason do not have the time or inclination to do any more than just grab and go!
Luckily Jacks bakery have these amazing cheese and tomato pinwheels and cheese twists for just 60p each which are ideal!
Shapely Sandwiches – Waste free edition!
Sandwiches do still make an appearance in our house. One of the ways I liven them up a bit is by using cookie cutters to cut them into shapes. Now, I had seen this done by other, more creative Mums in the past and always thought that the amount of waste it must create was a shame – and it put me off doing it myself.
So, the way I do those fancy shapes is to leave it assembled and just press the cutter into it. That way Moose still gets the exciting shape but doesn’t a)have a very small sarnie or b)get to skip his crusts. Sorry kiddo!
Easy ‘if it’s’ pasta salad
We are big fans of pasta and I usually have leftover cooked pasta in a tub in the fridge. For a really quick and easy lunch we just chop up whatever salad veg and cooked meat we have laying around in the fridge along with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or some mayo and seasonings. It’s called “if it’s” pasta because if it’s in the fridge, we have it!
A grazing lunch
A massive trend at the moment is a grazing box. Now, they look tasty but have you seen the prices?! It’s not hard to throw one together and if you use a tray like the cheapo plastic one I have (nice one, Ikea) you can save on the washing up too!
I saw an interesting programme with Hugh Fearnley Whatshisname on the Beeb a while ago and they were talking about picky eaters. Not the 32 yr olds who live on cheese quavers and ketchup. The child kind. They were saying that a really good way to introduce new foods without making it a stressful chore is to mix them in with things the child likes and let them help themselves. Sure, they may not touch it the first few times but eventually stats show that they do get braver! Worth a try!
Anyway. No explanation needed here. Add an assortment of lunch type grub to a tray. Chop it a bit so it’s a bit easier for little hands if you are that way inclined and then just let them have at it!
My lot were SO excited and Moose did indeed try celery. I mean, he hated it obviously but at least he tried. The whole lot was wolfed down anyway so someone ate it..