I can report that the experiment in having all four school age children make their own lunch has proved to be moderately successful. They are eating, making reasonably good choices using the guidelines of what needs to go into the lunchbox and have allowed enough time to complete the task before the walking bus/parent taxi leaves the house. By choice there is a lot of thermos action – hot soup and milo have been favourites. The only downside is that we, the collective we are still learning to clean up and this task is hard when all four are not preparing lunch at the same time. Do I wear this outcome and smile?

Honestly, this week has been hard. The hotspots are the big transition times from sleep to school readiness and then from school to after school activity and home. There is always so much happening in the morning. And a thousand stories of the day are to be heard, as kids appear with school bag, sport gear, notices, complaints…..But the new strategy for lunch is helping, I hope.

Lose your find your…peace

I have been really struggling with giving up control of one very important transaction in our family day. Making the school lunch. We have tried so many different approaches in recent years, I make, they make, we make but inevitably what happens is that I go back to creating their lunches in lightening speed to hurry things along each morning. But what happens, without fail is that each one will files past the kitchen bench, grabs their box and proceeds to open each compartment, making unhappy noises about a sandwich filling, or choice of fruit.
“I don’t like ham Mum”. “Can you take the banana out?”” I don’t really like muffins unless they are hot from the oven.” ” Is that grain bread? Hhmmmm.”

By this time I am meeting each comment and query with a tense, high pitched voice on the verge of nervous breakdown. So…..I went to the supermarket and stocked up on some fillings and lunchbox staples and have handed over the responsibility to them. And today the lunch making went off ok. There was a bit more chaos, slightly more mess, but generally happy kids. Some had made soup for their thermos, most had made use of the dips – hummus.spicy pumpkin and olive dip – and their was choice of bread, wraps or crackers. There are rules though, one healthy main, a piece of fruit, a snack and one sweet treat. So let’s monitor the change and hope as I lose my control we will find peace in the morning rush.

Minus One

School lunches – Nude Food Boxes, Flasks and fruit

So I have been meaning to tell you that on the weekend we lost our boy. He flew to China with his year level from school and he will be away for four weeks. Four weeks is a long time. Tonight our youngest asked if he would be back tonight. She has no concept of the time he is away, or the impact it will have on us all. I am so excited for him. And am praying for his safety and protection, with each breath I take. It will be interesting to see how one less mouth to feed ( and I mean a 6ft teenage boy mouth size) will change family meal times and the chaos of packing school lunches. And the overall soundtrack of our life together……..

The Thrifty Kitchen

I love cook books. I read them less than I once did. But I always love discovering something extra special and practical. This one has really inspired me. I initially flicked through the pages and went oh, yeah. Nice. But on a closer reading this book, The Thrifty Kitchen is complete with so many practical recipes and tips for using food well and wisely. How to shop, prepare, cook and not waste food. Any book that celebrates leftovers in our culture of waste is inspiring. And Kate Gibbs, granddaughter of Margaret Fulton has a lovely blog if you like following a few fun things.

Today I made these old fashioned Jam Finger Hole biscuits.

And I have taken a lot of ideas away for extra special lunchbox treats.
Where do you get your inspiration for food from?

Basic Bar Recipe for Busy Family….

The great thing about a big family is that we do learn to care for each other, well. Somedays it is in a hurried haphazard way, but mostly we know we are all on the same team and need to help.

The children all love cooking and although there are days when I inwardly dread the “Can I cook something?” request from one of the kids they are now safe and well skilled to do most things.

My eldest girl made Donna Hay’s “Make 1 Make 3” Muesli Bars (Kid’s Issue Annual 6, 2009). The basic recipe really works. In the past I have made the healthy muesli bar that crumbled when I simply looked at it. I assure this won’t happen. It does have to have some fat and some sugar in it to glue it together. I think we chose olive oil instead of vegetable oil with great success. Hay has a number of different options to change the flavour of your bar – fruit, seeds, choc chip, cornflakes instead of oats and so on. Let me know if you want to make these treasures this week.

The only problem is that there may not be enough left for Friday when school starts!

PS Thanks for asking. Here is the recipe…..with my edits.

Muesli Bars

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
2 tbs brown sugar
1 cup sultanas
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cu[ golden syrup
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 160 c. Place all dry ingredients in bowl. Heat honey and syrup in small saucepan over medium heat until runny and then whisk in oil. Add this to dry ingredients and combine. Spoon into greased 20cm x 30cm tin lined with non stick baking paper and flatten with a spoon. Bake 35-40 mins or until golden. Cool and cut into pieces. *Can be made in 40 ml capacity muffin tins