My poor kids - they beg for school dinners after two weeks of ham sandwiches for lunch. This academic year, I swear I will change - I will make things more interesting than a wedge of bread with wafer thin meat squished in the middle.
Okay, so I will let you into a little secret. All summer, I have been trying out 'new foods' on the kids to gauge whether they like them or not. For your information, Stuffed Vine Leaves are a big no-no!
Kids LOVE them! They are fun, healthy and taste great. If you are on a tight budget then noodles are the way to go.
Cold Chicken Noodles. I kid you not - this was my children's favourite lunch that I made for them. You can make it with the left over chicken from the Sunday dinner too. Boil some egg noodles until soft. Stir fry them in with beansprouts, chicken, onions and soy sauce until cooked. Leave to cool right down and refrigerate.
There's so much you can do with pasta. Again, another cheap way to make a nutritious lunch - when paired with the right ingredients of course. It can be stuffed or in cool shapes... doesn't matter which as the kids will scoff it anyway.
Spaghetti or Pasta Carbonara... my kids LOVE carbonara and they enjoy those spiral pasta shapes even more so. What are they called Fusilli? Put the two together and it's a match made in heaven. You can use shop bought sauce or make your own cheesy white sauce and add some chopped ham to it.
Alternatively, use linguine or spaghetti for the deliciously fun, worm-like lunch.
Make it into little balls, or salad,or do my favourite - blitz it down and make stuffed patties with meat inside. Honestly, they are yummy!
They are called Kubba... These are little rice balls that are stuffed with meat and fried. Trust me, they are yummy and the kids can't get enough of them. Traditionally, you would use lamb mince but there's no reason why you could use beef, chicken or even Quorn mince.
All you need to do is blitz the rice until it's mushy and can be rolled into balls. Cook a pot of mince, add seasoning/spices to taste plus any veg you like. Stuff the rice balls and smooth over so the filling can't escape. Fry and let cool down. Store in fridge.
This summer, I managed to get one child to eat lettuce and the other to eat cucumber and radishes. We all assume or kids will turn their noses up at vegetables, but they won't if you're a little more inventive.
I don't about you, but I find a big plate of lettuce and tomato boring. Add meat, tuna, or pasta. My boys liked new potatoes in their salad with tuna and boiled egg. Start small and get more adventurous.
You don't need bread to enjoy a kebab. They can be made by meat, vegetables or even fruit. If it looks colourful or appealing enough, then it'll get eaten at lunchtime. They don't even need to be on a stick - think of those sausage shaped Kofte Kebabs you get.
You don't have to be crazy inventive. A firm favourite in my house is 'Tandoori Chicken Kebabs'. They taste more like Tikka but are easy peasy to make. All you need is Natural Yogurt and Tandoori Spices Powder. Mix the two together and coat the chicken. I use a tiny bit of Coconut Oil to fry it but you can oven or grill.
Okay, so not dissimilar to the kebab, but you can be a genius at hiding the veg in a meatball or burger. I actually got the idea from some Turkey and Chicken Nuggets that Lidl sell. The kids devoured them in ten seconds flat and were surprised when I told them how they contained vegetables. Aha!
If you are clever you can outsmart the little fusspots! Bung in sweetcorn, carrots or even spinach! Get some steak mince (or chicken, turkey, lamb) and roll into balls, add in some veg if you like. Flatten into patties and grill. I add a tiny bit of salt and pepper to enhance flavour, but that's personal preference.