Back to School

This summer we enjoyed some of the hottest weather that Ireland has seen in decades. The beaches were packed as the staycation grew and uniforms were shoved to the back of the wardrobe for a few months. That said, all good things must come to an end, but with one door closing, another door opens. That is, the door to a new school year and the opportunity to create delicious lunch boxes for your little darlings.

When packing the lunch boxes, the main thing to remember is to include food that your child likes. Without their buy-in, your efforts will simply be in vain. If possible, get your child involved in making their own lunch. Suggest that they choose their own fruit each morning or give them sandwich options to choose from.

Check out my five lunch box ideas below. Feel free to mix and match ingredients to suit your child’s taste buds and to suit what you have available. Don’t forget to share your creations and ideas on Instagram and tag us @thebakingnutritionist and @dropchef.

Granola Bars

In a large bowl, stir together 150g oats, 25g Rice Krispies, 80g sesame seeds, 30g flaxseeds, 45g dried cranberries, 1 tbsp desiccated coconut, ½ tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt. In a small saucepan, melt together 125ml honey, 15ml maple syrup, 65g nut butter, 1 tsp coconut oil and 1 tsp vanilla essence. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix well. Press into a lined 8” square tin and set overnight in the fridge.

Oaty Banana Bread

Using a pint glass, measure 1 glass of oats, 1 glass of self-raising flour, 2 tbsp mixed seeds, 1 tbsp soft brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add in 3 mashed bananas, 100g yogurt and 300ml milk. Transfer to a greased loaf tin. Sprinkle over some oats, banana slices and brown sugar. Bake for 30 mins @200C. After which, cover with tin foil and back for a further 35-45 mins.

Pasta Salad

Cook 75g Fusilli in salted water, according to packet instructions. Drain and reserve approx. 100ml of the pasta water to make the sauce. In a non-stick pan, cook some garlic and red onion for 10 minutes, until soft. Mix in 2 tbsp guacamole, 2 tbsp milk, juice of ½ lime and reserved pasta water. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce before stirring in the cooked pasta, a bunch of basil leaves, salt and pepper.

Seedy Brown Bread

Mix together 8oz self-raising flour, 6 oz wholemeal flour, 1 oz oats, 1 oz caster sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp bread soda and 2 tbsp seed mix. Make a well in the centre and gradually add in 500ml buttermilk to form a wet dough. Transfer to a greased loaf tin, sprinkle over some seeds and oats and bake @ 180C for 50 minutes.

Chocolate Truffles Treats

Melt 100g chocolate in the microwave. In a small saucepan, heat 100ml canned coconut milk and 2 tbsp caster sugar until it is just coming to the boil. Mix in 2 tbsp nut butter and a pinch of salt. Pour the coconut milk over the melted chocolate and stir gently. Cover with cling film over-night and in the morning, shape into 15 truffles. Roll in icing sugar and cocoa.

For more meal inspiration and ideas, follow The Baking Nutritionist on Facebook and Instagram .

Amy Meegan, BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition, UCD

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