Monday, March 28, 2011

A Lunchbox Shopping List to Cringe at..

Making lunches for 2 adults and 4 kids can be quite expensive! I actually think we use less food when we are at home, rather than packing to go to school & work - tonight I made Monday's lunches, ready for the morning and this is what I used;
  • 6 Bread rolls
  • 150g Ham
  • Cheese
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cucumber
  • Handful of Spinach Leaves
  • 10 Cheerio Sausages
  • 6 Muesli Bars
  • 2 x Tins of Tuna
  • 1 x Box of Arnotts Shapes
  • 6 x Apples
  • 6 x Poppers/Juices
  • Handful of Snakata Corn Chips
  • 1 x Packaged Cheese dip/crackers
  • 2 x Yoghurts
  • 1 x tin of baby corn.
OMG! No wonder I find myself in the grocery shop every day.. And I'm not even one to use all that much pre-packaged food (I usually wouldn't use muesli bars as I typically make Muffins, but didn't get around to it this weekend as yet) as boxes of such snacks etc don't last long in our family, unless you buy in bulk.. 1 lunchtime equals a whole box of these products normally because they only contain 4-6 serves.. so I usually fill containers with crackers, cut up fresh food etc..

This term we only have my step kids every 2nd weekend, so the lunch list isn't this offensive every day, but next term when we have them for the entire term, it will be.. and then their will be another little mouth to feed too! .. Some of my favourite lunchbox snacks for the kids are;

  • Cut up cherry tomato, olive and cheese.
  • Sandwiches or wraps with various fillings.
  • Snakata Rice Cracker Corn Chips with a container of salsa to go with.
  • Various Muffins, Pikelets or homemade cookies
  • Fresh fruit cut up! Grapes, Watermelon, Apple Slices, Orange pieces, mandarin, grapes.
  • Cheese sticks cut up from home.. rather than those plasticy shop bought ones..
  • Cheese and Vegemite scrolls.
  • Tins of tuna with crackers to go with
I always pack the kids 3 individual lunch boxes for school and send along a fruit juice box/popper and a drink bottle filled with fresh cold water.  The reason I pack 3 lunchboxes is to ensure the kids have a sufficient amount of food for each break and it stops the older ones eating all of their packaged food during 1 lunch break (which I was finding to be a problem..) Kids need a sustained release of energy over the entire day and I find, this way, it ensures they aren't under or over eating at each of their breaks.

The first lunch box if for munch and crunch or brain food time, which our school participates in, where the kids are allowed a healthy snack during school time usually 10am.  For this break I send cut up fresh fruit or crackers..

The next lunch box is for first break and it contains a piece of fruit cut up and usually a muffin/cookie or yoghurt.

And the third lunchbox is for 2nd break which contains a sandwich (or equiv.. wrap, pasta, tin of tuna etc..)  some cut up olives, cherry tomatoes, cheese etc.. and a small treat such as a lamington finger/biscuit etc.. (depending upon what the other lunchboxes have contained..)

I mix these up often and the best thing I have found for the kids lunchboxes is a sectioned container which has a large part and 2 smaller parts.. perfect for 2nd break. I fill this up and add it to a zipped cooler bag with a frozen water bottle and it ensures their lunch stays healthy and fresh til 2nd break!

Another Weekend.. zooms by..

Wow, another weekend over.. where do they go?

This weekend started off Friday night at the Play Cafe Disco, an idea I saw when we celebrated my Son's birthday there earlier this year, a 2 hour disco with a DJ and the kids could either play on the regular equipment or join in and boogie.. Our kids did a little of both, they all loved dancing to the chicken dance and macarena and afterwards we grabbed McDonald's on the way home.  It was even an enjoyable night for us parents because the music was good, we got a free hot choccie/coffee and it was a laugh and a half watching the kids dance up a storm!   A nice way to wind up the working week!

Saturday started off nice and quiet, the kids thoroughly enjoyed playing at home and in the backyard but progressed after lunchtime to  a 2 hour Doctor's wait/visit to get my Stepson's ear checked (as he had been complaining of a sore ear) and also a small cut on his head (which happened shortly before the doctors visit - great timing..) after a rock/trampolining incident.. thankfully after a course of antibiotics were prescribed we were on our way.. to the dreaded grocery store! After a grocery run, with 4 kids in tow (never fun) we headed home, although our fridge and pantry which looked bare, now looks much more appealing.
Nich and Indi waiting (and waiting...) at the Doctors Surgery..

And today, being Sunday we spent the morning at home once again.. aah peaceful.. went to the markets (nothing exciting there..) had a picnic lunch in the park followed by the kids playing their version of Red Rover & Hide and Go Seek (in an open paddock mind you..quite interesting..) and the afternoon was spent browsing some camping/outdoors stores for camping equipment.  Which to many might sound like a nice afternoon, but once again with 4 kids in tow, isn't always fun and games (although I'm sure they had fun trying to 'road test' every tent in the shop and climb on every piece of equipment..) and we did end up finding all the equipment we needed, so that's always a good thing.

Damian and the kids having a 'massage' break after our day of shopping..

I think the most important thing in all of this, is, we were able to do it all as a family.. as much as the kids resisted going to the camping shops this afternoon, which I recall doing as a child also, I now look back on those moments fondly as a time that Mum, Dad and my Brother and I went and got things together, made choices together and spent times together.

I don't agree with the people who say not to take the kids grocery shopping or shopping in general, yes, it can be more stressful and sometimes you have to put the cranky voice on, but its all a great bonding experience and an experience in life overall & hopefully experiences that they will look on fondly in the future and drag their kids through!

The Rest of the Recipe's...

Sorry they are a bit late, finally got a breather from work, play and rest (in that order) to update the blog!

Beef, Tomato and Mushroom Casserole..
This is another great one for the slow cooker or the stock pot as the weather gets cooler.. It is great for freezing and you can easily make excess by adding additional ingredients..

What you will need;

  • 600g of gravy beef/casserole beef or similar.
  • 2 x Tin of Whole Peeled Tomatoes
  • 12 Mushrooms halved  (or as many as you like)
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 medium/large onion sliced
  • 4 washed potatoes
  • 2 x Oxo Cubes or Maggi Packet Mix.
To Make;

I used my slow cooker to cook this batch of casserole as I was working that day and love coming home to the aroma of a well cooked dinner! 

1. Add the diced meat to the slow cooker or stock pot and crumble the Oxo/Stock cubes over the top of the meat.  Alternatively you can add a Beef Provencale Maggi Packet mix.
2. Add the Potatoes, Carrot, Onion and Mushrooms to the pot with the meat.
3. Add the 2 x tins of canned tomatoes
4. Cover the ingredients with water
5. Allow the ingredients to cook, In the slow cooker I will leave on Auto for 6-8 hours or if using the stock pot, keep an eye on the ingredients, if they boil, turn down the heat and allow the casserole to simmer..
6. In the final hour of cooking in the slow cooker I also add a handful of baby spinach leaves.


Beef Nacho's
Easy weekend meal that the kids and adults will enjoy.. can also be made as a lunchtime treat.

What you will need;
  • 1 x packets of corn chips (CC's, Dorito's etc..)
  • 500g of Lean Beef Mince
  • 1 x tin of diced/crushed tomatoes
  • 3 x Mushrooms
  • 1 x Onion
  • 1 x tin of mixed beans
  • Sour Cream
  • 2 x Cups of grated tasty cheese.
1.  Heat some olive oil in your frying pan and brown the 500g of beef mince and the diced up onion together in the pan.
2. Once the meat/onions are browned you are able to add the sliced mushrooms and tin of mixed beans to the mince concoction, cook these until well mixed and cooked through.
3. Add the jar of salsa to the meat and continue to cook through.
4. Add the packets of corn chips to a large baking dish. 
5. Spoon the meat over the top of the corn chips, ensuring you have a relatively equal distrubution over the entire pan of corn chips.
6.Sprinkle the grated tasty cheese over the top of the corn chips and meat mix.
7. Pop the Nacho's into an oven preheated to 180 degrees until the cheese is melted nicely and the chips are warmed through.
8. Top with sour cream and finely sliced shallots and serve into individual bowls/plates or as a baking dish for finger food..