Saturday, September 18, 2010


So I received an email from Uncle Tobys asking me, if they sent me some free food, if I’d blog about it.

More so, that I’d blog about how I incorporate their food into healthy lunch boxes.

Now, I’ve watched A Current Affair enough times and seen enough blitzes on dodgy lunchbox fillings to know that what we “think” are healthy choices, often aren’t, (hang in there Uncle Toby’s, I will be getting to the good stuff about you soon) but truly, I think the key has always been balance. And I really believe UT can be part of that balance.

Plus, I’ve some cool Tupperware to give away if you tell me your best lunchbox tips. And no, I am not a Tupperware representative. Anyone who read this post about the last Tupperware Party I was forced to attend would know I didn’t win Miss Congeniality on the night.

Anyway, I’ve actually been asked by a few companies and this is the first one I’ve said yes to. Mainly because I’m a sellout, no mainly because, in all truth, we buy all the stuff they’ve sent me on a weekly basis anyway, so I’m comfortable showing you how I incorporate their snacks into my childrens daily lunches.

We chose not to eat the hat and towel although it was touch & go there for a while

Due to the fact that we have three children, we make three school lunches a day. Times by 5 school days, times by 44 school weeks, that means, we put together 660 lunches a year. That equates to 8,580 school lunches over their schooling lives. Can I be technical here? Thats a shitload of prepared school lunches. Scuse the French.

To be dead honest, I usually grab the snacks that are on sale. But I must say that we at least have one Uncle Tobys product in the trolley each week, ergo, they must be within my budget.

I detest making lunches. In fact, I will do Sam’s homework, I will wash up, I will put Jack to bed (akin to walking backwards through a tornado) rather than make school lunches. I honestly can’t tell you why they shit me so.

It might be because I am always paranoid that a school or kindy teacher is going to do an inspection and mark me on my lunchbox nutrition content. It might be because I put the pressure on myself to have the box full to overflowing so I know my children won’t be doing their best Oliver impression half way through the day. Whatever is, it scares me, but having lunchbox fillers such as Le Snacks or the new Fruit Fix’s (which have 1 serve in each sachet) makes my life so much easier.

So what goes into my kids lunchbox each day? Standard of course is the sandwich. Sad to say, my kids are vegemite and jam children. My salad sandwiches come home uneaten. So too, the ham or turkey ones. Next are the two pieces of fruit.  After that are at least two pre-packed "snack" type foods.   I have one child who would eat only crap if given the chance, one who eats nothing but sushi, salad and healthy stuff and the other who is fed a hot lunch and only requires snacks. So to say I am catering to the masses is an understatement. The one thing they all agree is on is a muesli bar. Usually one with a choc chip or two. Last but not least, bag of popcorn or pretzels.

You can watch how Eamon Sullivan packs a lunch box HERE

And hey, back in my day, I got the standard lunch, but always had a treat whether it be a packet of chips, a coffee roll or a cream bun merrily inserted into my lunchbox each day. The few kids who had multi-grain bread and fresh fruit were considered hippies. Times change, but the one thing we can all agree on is that we are trying to please and do the best for our kids. I reckon you can’t go too wrong popping a few Uncle Tobys snacks in each day.

Now, to win these insane Tupperware snack boxes, just leave me a comment telling me your best school lunch tip. I don’t care if you’re a parent or not, everyone’s had or made a school lunch at one time in their life.  I will be drawing the winner, Wednesday the 22nd of September, 6pm.   If you don't have an active blog account, please check back in case you're the winner :)  Plus, open to anyone, anywhere in the world. 

PS, I'd have better stuff but this shit is EXPENSIVE.

Skulls (two for the prize)

I apologise for crap picture - Pink ones


Carly Findlay said...

Check this blog out
I thought it relates to this a bit.
I will read yours properly tomorrow :)

Lucy said...

Roasted & salted fava beans are my personal hippy healthy mother fave.

Aside from that, fritz in a chunk appears to always get eaten. (Can you tell I'm an Adelaide girl?)

And dare I tell you that I use pappy mass produced white bread? Becaus it has so many preservatives in it, it stays fresh, so when Olivia leaves half a cheese sarnie in her lunchbox, I can cheerfully recyle it for the next day!

nellbe said...

I have only made kindy lunches so far, I get to make school lunches next year. :) My tip is for kids that have trouble opening the museli bar/fruit flix wrappers is to cut the top part way for them so they can fully open it at school. Makes it much easier for them.

Jody Kolkka said...

One word love..LEFTOVERS. Whilst my darling Ivy doesn't need a packed lunch yet, I can strongly vouch for the delicious lunches my Mum would pack me, my favs being the ones that included leftovers from the night before. For example, a smashing lamb roast, gravy and vegies or slice of quiche, homemade pizza-basically anything that you could eat cold that still tasted yum! Now this is where the ole' tupperwear plus a cooler bag and ice brick came in handy- it stopped me getting food poisoning. Leftovers are the best- especially if you've been fortunate enough to get them to eat dinner the night before, coz you'll know they'll like it! In the meantime, Ivy's happy with the same old boob every day of the week- what a piece of cake haha!

Anonymous said...

It's the '4 rule' always here...What's that? Well if there is ever more than 4 items in the lunch box those extras will be banished to either the sch bin or the bottom of the sch bag only ever seeing the light of day after their pungent smell blows their cover!!
one sandwich
one piece of fruit
one dairy
one 'pre packed snack'

Caitlyn Nicholas said...

My best tip is to get the kids involved in what you're putting in their lunch, let them decide philly cheese or vegemite, rice cakes or bread, apple or pear. Mine are so much more likely to eat what I send with them when we do this. :)

Cate Bolt said...

I'm old skool! We don't do prepackaged or processed foods here, mostly cause we can't really afford them with 4 billion mouths to feed but also due to ADHD and the mary-hell that colours, flavouring, preservatives play on hypo kids.
I bake en masse and freeze in individual serves. It's kinda just the same as grabbing a museli bar on the day - also means that in Queensland, they are not only defrosted by lunch time but fresh and not a melted, pre-mouldy mess.
We also go through a LOT of fruit (rougly 150 pieces of fruit per week) - but we don't buy it from the supermarket - roadside vendors, baby. Straight from the farm and CHEAP!

Marita said...

Some great tips in the comments.

We had so many lunch / snack dramas. I've found the 'Foogo' pot from Thermos a real life saver, Annie loves her Cuppa Soups so we mix up a packet of cuppa soup and hot water in the foogo pot. Seal it up, pack some toast fingers in a sandwich box and she dips them to her hearts content at lunch time.

Heidi likes her Foogo pot filled with two minute noodles (plain, no flavour sachet). Sometimes we slip a tin of spaghetti in which she prefers cold.

In summer the same pot can hold frozen fruit pieces or yogurt/custard and fruit.


Has made lunches so much easier.

Marita said...

Should add my other tip is not to make a big deal of it if the lunch box is still full at the end of the day. I don't want my girls getting the same 'just because it is on my plate/ in front of me/ there I must eat it' thing I have going on - and then end up with obesity problem.

So if they don't eat all their lunch I ask if they would like what is left for afternoon tea. Usually it is yes. If it is no then I show them that it is okay to either
- put uneaten food away for another day
- put it in the bin if it wont keep

Because it is okay not to eat food just because it is there.

Hope that makes sense. One of those little mental battles I have going.

Mrs Woog said...

One brown paper bag with coins in it. Name on the front with class. That is Thursday sorted.

Otherwise sandwich, a fruit, a frozen yoghurt and something crunchy. And he eats anything leftover for afternoon tea (apart from the yoghurt which is always the first thing he eats)

Kate Hunter said...

I thought my daughter was doing a fab job of eating the apple I lovingly packed for her. But the lunchbox at the end of the day was making me suss. It was empty ... too empty. Then it dawned on me - CHOOKS. The school has chooks. Popsy, being an an animal lover, was making sure the 'girls' were getting a balanced lunch, even if she wasn't. Now I insist on seeing the gnawed core. Popsy is not happy. Neither are the chooks, but life's like that, so suck it up, girls.

Nomie said...

We have kid sized thermoses, we put in last night lefts overs such a pasta, soup, etc. for a warm lunch, it's a winner!

Also for younger kids, cut up the fruit and if it's apple or pear, put lemon juice over the cut fruit so it doesn't go brown. It has much more chance of being actually eaten then. As a teacher I can not tell you how many young kids with a whole apple etc just take a nibble then bin it because it takes too long to eat... and try as I might I can't get to every child to cut it up for them before they bin it.

Easy snacks my kids like are chunks of parmesan and olives, cherry tomatoes, celery and cream cheese. Capsicum strips and cucumber. Finger food. Rice crackers and small containers of dip.

Oh and not too much food! It gets binned or given away. Small serves of food have a better chance of being eaten. Lunch boxes with separate compartments are useful too, each food item is easy to see & access.

Maxabella said...

Ah, the lunchbox. A good essay topic, Aunty Berny.

Here's what we look like:
1. Regulation ham or salami or cream cheese or banana sandwich on wholemeal
2. Cut up fruit in tupperware container (hint, hint) - watermelon or berries or rockmelon or apple
3. Banana
4. Yoghurt or cheese stick or milk with a sippa straw
5. Something baked at home - muesli bar (sorry Uncle Tobys), oaty slice, raspberry muffin, cornflake slice or a bag of popcorn

Everything gets eaten except the crusts. Even when I cut the crusts off, the container comes home with the edges of the bread. Drives me nuts. x

Bugalugx said...

Absolutely no imagination when it comes to making Liam's school lunches (without costing a fortune) Sanga, apple or orange, slice of homemade cake. Poor kid's starrrrrrrrrrving when he gets home. But then again, he's always starrrrrrrrrving!!! (growth spurt again...)

macsnorky said...

Good grief your kids eat a lot, Bern! Mr9 gets 3 things in his lunchbag, and often some of it comes home.

I'm also jealous of those of you whose kids will eat something a bit out of the norm. When hubby has time he'll bake cookies or something which are always welcomed. But if the cookies aren't choc chip they won't get touched. We try making pizza scrolls or savoury muffins for something different but they won't get eaten. The closest he will get to taking leftovers is a sausage.

So every day it's a sandwich with something simple (a spread or at its fanciest ham & cheese), an apple and one other thing. The third is the afore-mentioned cookie if we have any, or a Le Snak, or muesli bar, or chips/popcorn.

I guess one thing about his simple tastes is that it takes literally less than 2 minutes to pack the school lunch each day. No stress!

Cathy said...

Lunchboxes are a hassle!! I do it the lazy way by...
1. Leftovers from dinner - chicken kebabs, tuna pasta, lasgne, meatballs, rice
I do this because my kids HATE sandwhiches (thanks boys)
2. Fruit thats a given, all kiddies get fruit
3. yoghurt or cheesestick
4. Cake or biscuit or I make date n choc balls (they love these)
5. Popcorn - Easy cheap and not as bad as chips
6. Puffed corn coated in honey and coconut and baked in the oven
7. Mushed avocado with crackers and vege sticks

Am sorry to all the companies that love to market their snack food to kids as I won't buy it mainly because they are processed muck and are full of sugar and stuff I can't pronounce. One of my boys is a celiac (yay) and gets really hypo/agro from too much shop bought food. So I have had to learn the hard way and I finally now make pretty much all of the stuff that goes into the lunchboxes.
I also find if I do get too busy or lazy and buy snack foods they just binge on it and its gone in 3 days which is something I can't afford to do.....Weekends we go a little crazy with snacks but weekdays is simple, basic, homefood.

Quixotic said...

We are under a total Nestle (owne rof Uncle Toby's) an here - due to their irresponsile marketing of infant formula in Africa, shown to contribute to infant deaths and banned by the World Health Organisation, and their continuing to source cocoa from the Ivory Coast, despite the use of forced child labour in that region.

I know everyone makes their own decisions, taking into account their budget, what they can get their kids to eat etc., but I can't feel good about buying these products. I'm not saying don't buy them (if you want to), but I do believe in making these points so people make informed choices.

Getting off my high horse now...

Quixotic said...

Of course I mean a Nestle *ban* here... #typossuck

Melbourne Mumma said...

I'm only at the kindy lunchbox stage but one of the better things about being on kinder duty is getting a good look at what all those kids have in their lunch boxes - you get 25 different ideas to check out! As for my kid it's usually 1/2 a sandwich, a cheese stick or Mini Babybel and some strawberries/grapes. Maybe crackers with cheese and vegemite, and slices of apple. If I ever put stuff like apricot delight in it (ie. sugar) he won't eat the other stuff. Unfortunately my kid won't touch capsicum or celery sticks...

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

My girls loved 'bitsa lunch' which was basically bits of this and that.

They were weird little creatures and preferred capsicum, RAW ONION, olives, cheese and salami.

I never bought prepackaged ANYTHING when they were in primary school because I was awesome mummy baker. Once they hit highschool it was FFY - fend for yourself and they were all over the prepackaged stuff.

Bronnie and family said...

I hate lunches too. I've done the whole baking spaghetti muffins, savoury muffins, pasta salads, rice, wraps, sangers and more. Miss 7 only ever eats vegemite sangers, fruit and in winter, a cup of soup. Mr 9 won't eat sangers, but if you toast them and cover them in foil, he'll eat a little. He will only eat apples for fruit break. Occasionally, he will allow a chicken lap.
I don't know how my kids have turned me into a servant. I used to get a sandwich, couple of bikkies, and fruit, plus tap water from the bubbler.

Leah (@McNeillsWheels) said...

My brother isn't a big sandwich kid, and he doesn't have a long attention span, so Mum needed to find something quick to eat that wasn't any kind of sandwich thing.
She came up with....noodle cups! Like the Fantastic or Sumin noodles in a cup. He's old enough not to burn himself and he chows it down.
Only once a week though.
NB: he goes to a Montessori school, so they run a bit differently. i.e, he has access to an urn.

Tracy (ruddygood) said...

Yup, 'nother fussbucket with a home-baking mama here. He wouldn't touch a bought muesli bar (sorry, UT :P ).

Boyo's tastes are fairly simple if a little left of centre - his favourite is a mountain bread wrap with hummous, sliced turkey, a little pesto and grated cheese. Variations on that, for instance putting it all on the soft brown rye bread we make every week, or else the brown bread with peanut butter or cheese & vegemite.

Chuck in some Ritz with cheese or a little container of hummous, some vanilla yoghurt, rice cakes etc, plus a banana/choc chip muffin or a carob spiral cookie. I got one of those little thermoses recently, and the leftover soup has gone alright in winter, too.

He used to eat raw red capsicum and baked beans and tinned tuna, but he's getting a bit iffy on them. I've told him he's got to open up to some new things, and am going to try mini pizzas and savoury muffins etc again. I worry that he's going to end up hating everything if he doesn't vary it a bit more. *sigh*

Catastrophe Waitress said...

Oh lordy I am with you on the whole school lunch thing.

Here is my top tip for you -

Get Your Children To Make Their Own Lunch.

I cannot tell you how much my life has improved since implementing this rule. The only thing you have to do is make sure they have good choices, and have a rule such as '2 fruit items'. Or - Only 1 bag of crisps per day.

Why don't you try it? I wish I'd started earlier (my kids are 8 and 11) my mornings are so much more relaxed. I get at least another half hour to blow dry my hair of a morning.

That's not to be sniffed at, is it?

toushka said...

my mum and dad used to write little notes, wrap them in Glad wrap and hide them in my sandwiches.
I do NOT recommend this. At best, it's embarrassing to get an "I love you sweety" note from your mum and at worst it's a freaking choking hazard!

Bronnie and family said...

Haha ... I just wrote that my son occasionally likes a chicken lap. I meant WRAP obviously. Oh and I can make miso soup and put it in a thermos for him. Sushi is another good option, and when the kids went through a picky stage I would make their sandwiches into shapes, like love hearts and stars. (Just use a cookie cutter). Or roll up and cut into bits like a pinwheel. My 9 will occasionally deign to eat a few bits that way. I also put dry cereal they like - like Cheerios, Nutrigrain - into containers or bags so they can snack on those. Extra carbs ...

emlykd said...

I HATE making lunches.. But I hate just deciding what to eat all round.. I love a good liverwurst sandwich.. I don't mind a straz and tomato sauce sandwich.. but it must be on white bread.. I won't eat white bread any other time... Anyway.. when I was a young tacker I used to like a chicken loaf sandwich, but it had to have mayo on it. By the time I got to school lunch time my bread would be soggy, so it was a bit of a vicious cycle..

We came up with an idea to cut a piece of glad wrap about the size of a sandwich, and put a dollop of mayo into the middle and bunch up the little dollop into the gladwrap. Then when lunch came, I'd open up the bread, bite a small hole into the mayo and squirt it onto my sandwich much like u ice a cake.. u know.. with one of those piping sets....? it was quite ingenious really!! :p

Bec @ Bad Mummy said...

I don't have a best tip, possibly because my girls are too little to go to school, but I have a worst one. A couple of years ago the nutritionist on the Today program on channel nine suggested parents send their kids to school with pumpkin soup for lunch. I could be crazy, but cold pumpkin soup doesn't sound exactly appetizing to me, on the other hand it does sound incredibly messy so maybe kids would love it?

Meredith @ thinkthinks said...

I always get excited by the back to school healthy lunchbox articles in the mags. Every year I think, oh I will do this. And then of course I don't.
My school lunches as a kid were: a sandwich (usually ham), a piece of fruit (apple or pear) and a couple of family assorted bikkies. Water from the bubbler.
My kids still get pretty much the same - plus a bag of popcorn. Yes they are staaaarving when they get home, but if I put any more in, they wont eat it, because they want to be off and playing. A big breakfast and healthy snacks at 3 o'clock mean they aren't low on energy. And they still get water from the bubblers. I found that drink bottles just came home full.

Niki said...

Hiya, thanks for coming by my blog.
I love yours, you crack me up.
I make 4 school lunches a day & like you, it does my head in, constantly keeping on top of it.
We have the same with variations each day too.
Ours consisit on the SANDWICH, of course. Usually ham & cheese or chicken & mayo or Jam & Vegemite,they like it & its easier for me.
The FRUIT. An apple & mandarin mainly. Sometimes Bananas.
Uncle Tobys muesli bars are a staple too.
One everyday. They all have their favourite flavours, but they get what they are given.Ha.
Then I will pop some Popcorn in the Microwave & zippy bag it. Or I use a Greens cake mix to make little cakes, usually I slip in some chopped fruit or choc chips.
Another good idea I've come up with over the years is a slice of the leftove Sunday Pizza instead of the sandwich. And my second son loves to take leftover lasagne or spag bol.
I sometimes put in small yoghurts, small fruit cups or other bar type thingys, but only when they are super specials.
Whole strawberries washed & Zippy bagged are on the littlest ones best list.
And they love the Uncle tobys cheese & crackers. So do I. They are my staple travelling snack.

Ali {Mummahh} said...

Sadly I buy whatever the kids want to eat (and I know they will eat) for their lunchboxes! I pack 3 a day as mr 2 feels left out!
My hot tip is to apple slinky my kids apple..this way I know they ate going to eat something healthy out of all the shit that goes into the lunch box (sugar filled)

Angie said...

Lunches are more successful for my child if I make something nice that goes in along with the sandwich, yoghurt, fruit and cheese. I love baking and so when I do, I make a few different snacks (muffins, banana bread) and freeze in individually wrapped portions so that it is easy to add one to the lunchbox each day.

Leesa Watego said...

Sorry Uncle Toby. My mum was a school cleaner for twenty years and the amount of Uncle Toby products that were in the bin would make most well-meaning parents hair stand on end. If you think little Johnny is really eating all his lunch, you might wanna think twice before forking out big $ for all that stuff. I've got 4 kids so I only buy that stuff when its on SERIOUS sale.

Sparkly Tiara said...

Another unapologetic non-buyer of Nestle here, I'm afraid! We stick with basics, for the most part - sandwich (vegemite, ham, egg, and occasionally jam, but I make my own jam so don't feel too bad about that!), with fresh fruit for morning tea (school rules) and one other "extra" for lunch - homebaked muffin, slice or muesli bar, yoghurt, sometimes more fruit.

I would love to extend into healthy veggie wraps, quiches, sushi etc. but I'm afraid my picky little buggers would simply prefer to starve.

Oh - and I totally second the suggestion to get your kids to make their own - mine (except the youngest) have been doing that for years now!

Thea said...

My fussy eater gets almost the same thing every day. At least I don't have to think about it...

Apple (apple slinky at school!! YES!)or strawberries
Vegemite sandwich (crusts cut off)
Little blocks of cheese
Some kind of crackers (rice, corn, cheese)

His school is pushing 'nude food' which is no packaging. So little Tupperware containers are a must for us!

Glen said...

I have no idea what these Uncle Toby things are ??

I regularly wind up putting my boy's lunchboxes together - the best tip I can give is to relax and don't fret about the lunchbox snoopers. Jam = fruit, strawberry milkshake = fruit and dairy, potato crisps = potato = vegetable. Chocolate covered raisins = fruit.

So a Jam sandwich on white, with a bag of crisps, a box of choccy raisins and a milkshake gives 2 X portions of fruit, 1 portion vegetable not to mention at least 1 portion of dairy and some fibre from the bread. a well balanced meal to keep even the snootiest teacher satisfied.

Anna Bartlett said...

My eldest is in Year 7, but it was only last year that I figured out if you freeze a half-full drink bottle (with water/cordial/whatever) and top it up in the morning with liquid, it'll keep everything cool enough, but also be drinkable by morning tea.

I try to make my own snacks, but haven't had much success getting them to eat the healthy stuff.

Slinky apples ARE fantastic though. Love that slinky making thing.

Amy Dawson said...

I have a lot of ideas on my lunch website
We pack 2 lunches every day and though my husband and I both work at home, since we started this site we just pack 4 lunches a day - one less thing to worry about come noon time for us. Everything on our site has nutrition information and a picture which is really nice. Having nutrition info for things helps us keep everything balanced and focused on the best things we can put in our kids (and our) bodies.

Rachel McGuire said...

My best school lunch tip is this. I can't get my daughter (8) to eat veggies, or even fruit raw. So, I puree carrots / baby spinach / apple and summer squash, then blend it all together into a very icky looking mush, I freeze most of it in 2 Tbsp sizes measurements (ice cube trays). Each week I blend up two of these ice cube sized mixes along with chocolate syrup, peanut butter (or a nother nut butter) and some honey. Then send pretzels, pita chips or some other healthy crispy snack for Dipping into the "sauce". My daughter thinks she's getting chocolate dip (a junk food snack) everyday for lunch. I've even had to send a note to her teacher telling her what is in her "chocolate dip" so that they would stop telling my daughter to NOT bring in junk food for snacks. lol.

Wanderlust said...

I'm afraid I'm terribly redundant with the lunches I make because my kids just aren't that adventurous when it comes to food. They aren't big sandwich eaters so I go with things like mozzarella cheese sticks or yogurts and fruit and granola bars. Sometimes I'll put in a baggie of cashews or almonds.

So Now What? said...

Just to let you know, MacSnorky won the tupperware, number 14. I thought that random generator stayed on the number I brought up, but goes away when the page is refreshed.

Anyway, it was number 14. Please keep in mind, everyone only got one entry, so a couple had double up comments. :)

Thanks for all the wonderful comments.

noreen said...

I have an easy tip, when making a PB&J put the PB on first and then the jam/jelly on top of the PB. Place the bread on top and done. Since you did not put the jam/jelly directly on the bread it does not get as soggy so my kids will eat it.

River said...

My best lunchbox tip? Remind your kids to UNWRAP the uneaten sandwich before they throw it to the dog at the end of the day.
I'm river and I came here via life in a pink fibro.

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