The summer holidays are quickly drawing to a close and as a mama this brings mixed emotions:
BIG YAY for getting back into some semblance of an exercise and meditation routine which went totally out the window, and BIG BOO for early morning rises and gun-to-the-head time pressures.
I can’t guarantee that the emotional and physical transition back to school this coming week will be an easy one for you either, but I can assure you that with some basic fridge, freezer and pantry staples, you'll be well prepared to tackle the early morning rush hour with less stress and haste, and more ease and grace, as well as ensuring that your little chimps will be well fed with nutrient-dense foods that give them the energy and building blocks to learn, play and concentrate all day without energy dips.
Here is what I always have on hand at a minimum to make sure I never get caught out:
- Rectangular and square leak-proof stainless steel lunch boxes with removable dividers. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder. I love the quadrangle ones because I can ensure that ¾ of my kids’ lunch boxes is vegetables and ¼ is protein. I simply remove the divider when packing a salad.
- Nesting trio of 3 round leak-proof stainless steel lunch box containers. Super handy for morning tea. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder
- Insulated food jars to keep food cold (e.g. yogurt) or hot (soups, broth, stews). Sold at Broth Bar & Larder. Hot tip to keep food hot for longer: fill with boiling water to warm the container up, discard the water and add in the hot food.
- Stainless steel (not plastic!) water bottles: buy online from Klean Kanteen or selected homeware stores like Kings of Knives and organic stores. Kings of Knives also sell the spouts separately if you loose one and I also recommend replacing all of the spouts periodically as bacteria can harbour in the spouts. Glass water bottles are another option but there’s the breakage factor (Miss M learnt that one the hard way!) and also the issue with extra weight to lug around.
- Activated nuts: if permitted at schools, organic activated nuts are not only delicious but high in protein and ranked as the 3rd most-nutrient dense food on the planet according to the Mat Lalonde nutrient-density scale. The older grades are becoming more and more relaxed about nuts so these are making their way into my kids’ school lunch boxes in more recent years. Our organic activated cashews, almonds, black pepitas and macadamias come in nifty little 30g snack packs perfect for kids’ school lunches. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder or via our online store.
- Gruyere or Reggio raw milk cheeses: still made with 100% raw milk world-wide. Perfect to team with fruit for morning tea or can be the protein part of lunch. We sell these at Broth Bar & Larder by weight so you can buy as little or as much as you need.
- All other organic full fat cheese: I always keep a stash of other organic full fat cheeses in my fridge to have on hand. They will each contain different probiotics so ideally rotate between them. Eg gouda (high in vitamin K2), haloumi (pan fry), cheddar, brie, camembert etc. Purchase from organic stores.
- Preservative-free cured meats from Bundarra Berkshires: Capocollo – a little spicy, and Little French Ham – my kids fav! Sold at Broth Bar & Larder.
- The Canadian Way wild smoked salmon: delicious to throw into a salad to make wild smoked salad or to throw into lunch boxes as is dressed with lemon juice. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder. Beware that all other smoked salmons in Australia are farmed. Read more here. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder. I keep a stash in my freezer to pull out from the night before.
- The Canadian Way wild tuna: pre-cooked at low temperatures with extra virgin olive oil and sold in retort packs to conveniently add to lunch boxes or throw into a salad. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder. Shelf stable so I have a stash in my pantry.
- Anchovies: buy from supermarkets or organic stores ensuring that they are marinated in olive oil and not vegetable oil or canola oil. Easy to throw into a salad.
- Other tinned fish: buy wild tinned fish from supermarkets or organic stores ensuring that they are either in brine or marinated in olive oil and not vegetable oil or canola oil. BPA-free tinned wild fish sold online from Vital Choice. Easy to throw into a salad or can be eaten straight from the tin.
- Preservative-free beef jerky from Kooee made from 100% grass fed meat and spices. 3 varieties sold at Broth Bar & Larder.
- Cleavers paleo sausages and meat balls: I keep a stash of frozen ones in my freezer to pull out when needed and fry up the night before.
Full fat unsweetened yogurt made by Bondi Yogurt sold at Broth Bar & Larder. I also like the Meredith sheeps milk yogurt sold at organic /health food stores. For our dairy-free friends, an unsweetened probiotic-rich coconut yogurt made by Bondi Yogurt is also sold at Broth Bar & Larder.
Vegetables & Fruit:
- Fresh vegetables: buy from your local farmers market or organic stores. At a minimum I try to have in my crisper drawer at all times some cucumbers, red capsicum, cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery and some salad greens. Left over veggies (make more steamed veg from the night before), raw fennel and cooked and cooled potatoes are nice too for variety. Mix things up!
- Olives: Jumbo green olives in brine are sold at Broth Bar & Larder. If you buy marinated olives please read the label or ask if they are marinated in vegetable oils like canola oil – and if so avoid like the plague!
- Pickles: sugar-free pickles from McLures are sold at Broth Bar & Larder. My kids adore these.
- Raw fermented vegetables: throw into salads. 3 varieties sold at Broth Bar & Larder. Easy to throw into a salad.
- Nori seaweed: let’s not forget sea vegetables and their richness in nutrients like iodine not found as abundantly in land vegetables. Remember that diversity is key and the human body wants a diversity of (real, whole) foods. My kids LOOOOVE nori. I buy from organic nori from organic/health stores and be sure that it contains only one ingredients – nori- because many brands coat the nori in vegetable oils.
- Fresh fruit: I always have a few pieces of seasonal fresh fruit on hand for morning teas that I team with yogurt, cheese, cream or some other quality protein/fat source (this teaming is important because fruit and veggies contain fat soluable vitamins and minerals meaning that they need to be teamed with quality fats or proteins for those vitamins and minerals to be assimilated /absorbed in the body. Secondly a quality fat/protein source will help slow down the release of blood sugars from the fruit to avoid insulin spikes and crashes). I also have some fruit berries in my freezer (when I’ve no fresh fruit) to serve on top of yogurt.
Crap-free nutrient-dense treats:
- Bliss Balls: sweetened only with dates and no concentrated sweeteners and loaded with healthy brain-boosting and energy-giving saturated fats, these come in 4 different flavours: raw cacao, choc orange, white chocolate and activated nut. The first 3 flavours are completely nut free! Sold at Broth Bar & Larder or via our online store.
- Gummies: made with 100% grass-fed gut-loving beef gelatin, organic raspberries and pure Canadian maple syrup. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder.
- Carob bears + mint carob bears: made with 2 or 3 ingredients only, these are completely free of sweeteners and dates = guilt free! Yay! Sold at Broth Bar & Larder
[Broth Bar & Larder is open 7 days a week (Monday- Saturday 8am-6pm, and Sundays 11am-4pm). Note that our online store only ships cold items to Sydney and Wollongong.]
To become a lunchbox pro, check out my SCHOOL LUNCHBOX INSPIRATION ebook where I will share with you robust nutritional theory, my secret tips and tricks, school lunch and morning tea “formulas” for success, teamed with pictures of nutrient-dense, grain-free, processed food free lunch boxes.
And don't forget to check out my social media posts to see what my monkeys are taking with them to school each day. See social media platforms below.