Lunchbox makeover: Back to school ideas for kids to try!

Lunchbox makeover: Back to school ideas for kids to try!

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Here are three veggie-filled lunchbox favourites that are perfect for the freezer, making filling lunchboxes in the morning a breeze. The recipes are all written to help kids take over the kitchen and try something new, whether they’re packing a lunch for at school, learning from home, or preparing a picnic lunch for the whole whānau.

Give freezer frittatas, fruit rollups, and cheesy snail bread a go! Please do email your delicious delicacies to us if you would like to be featured on the Garden to Table blog.

RECIPE: Freezer frittatas

By Garden to Table.

12 servings.

Equipment:

  • 12 hole muffin tray.
  • Baking paper or muffin cases.
  • Grater.
  • Whisk.
  • Large jug or bowl.
  • Knife.
  • Chopping board.

Ingredients:

  • Seasonal vegetables (see note below). 
  • Herbs.
  • 8 eggs.
  • 1 cup cheese.

Suggested flavour combinations:

  • Defrosted peas, cooked potato and chopped mint. 
  • Cooked pumpkin, feta and chopped parsley.
  • Red onion, tomato and spinach – raw and chopped.

How to make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. 
  2. Line the muffin tray with muffin cases or small squares of baking paper. 
  3. Grate the cheese. 
  4. Prepare and chop the vegetables. 
  5. Chop the herbs. 
  6. Whisk the eggs in the jug/bowl. 
  7. Add the vegetables and cheese to the egg mixture and stir. 
  8. Pour the mixture into the lined muffin tray, nearly filling each hole and making sure the vegetables are evenly distributed. 
  9. Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes until the egg is set and doesn’t wobble. 
  10. Remove from the oven. Caution – hot! Ask an adult to help you with this. Leave to cool.  

Notes:

  • If you are using baking paper to line your muffin cases, cut the paper into small squares and then screw the paper into a small ball. Unwrap the ball and use to line the muffin tray – the screwed-up paper will hold its shape better. 
  • These freeze really well so are perfect for lunchboxes. Remove from the freezer the night before and leave in the fridge to defrost.  

RECIPE: Fruit leather/fruit rollups

By Garden to Table.

30 servings (depending on the size cut).

Equipment:

  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Vegetable peeler.
  • Measuring spoons.
  • Blender (for Method 1).
  • Saucepan (for Method 2).
  • Potato masher (for Method 2).
  • Sieve.
  • Spoon.
  • Oven tray.
  • Baking paper.
  • Spatula.
  • Kitchen scissors.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups seasonal fruit – any stone fruit, berries, feijoas, apples, pears will work. Canned peaches or apricots or frozen berries can work too.  
  • An apple or pear (see note below). 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

Note:

Apples, pears, and lemons have high levels of pectin and help the rollups set with a more jelly-like texture. You can make the recipe using just apples and/or pears but the rollups will turn brown in the oven. Adding a handful of frozen raspberries or blueberries will give the rollups a nicer final colour. 

Pears and feijoas make rollups with a grainier texture. 

How to make it (method 1 — using a blender)

  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C.
  2. Line the baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Peel and chop the seasonal fruit and the apple/pear. If using canned fruit, choose fruit preserved in natural juice and drain before using. If using frozen berries, defrost first and pour off the juice before using. 
  4. Put in the blender with the lemon juice and blend until very smooth. 
  5. If you have used a fruit with seeds such as berries or feijoas, push the purée through a sieve onto the baking paper and then spread thinly and evenly using the spatula (about 5mm thick). If you used soft fruit like canned peaches, you could skip this step and spread the purée straight onto the baking paper. 
  6. Bake at 140°C for approximately 2 hours. Watch it very carefully so that it doesn’t burn, and don’t let it go brown. When the purée is set but still sticky take it out of the oven and leave to cool. 
  7. Leave the paper on. Using kitchen scissors, cut the rollups into strips about 3cm wide and rollup each strip. 
  8. As long as the puree is properly dry, they can be kept in an airtight container or jar for up to 2 weeks or can be kept in the freezer for longer. 

How to make it (method 2 — without a blender)

  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C.
  2. Line the baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Peel and chop the seasonal fruit and the apple/pear. If using canned fruit, choose fruit preserved in natural juice and drain before using. If using frozen berries, defrost first and pour off the juice before using. 
  4. Put in a saucepan with one Tablespoon of water and cook gently until very soft. Let it cool. Mash with a potato masher and add the lemon juice. 
  5. Push the purée through a sieve (using a spoon to force it through the holes) onto the baking paper and then spread thinly and evenly using the spatula (about 5mm thick).  
  6. Bake at 140°C for approximately 2 hours. Watch it very carefully so that it doesn’t burn, and don’t let it go brown. When the purée is set but still sticky take it out of the oven and leave to cool. 
  7. Leave the paper on. Using kitchen scissors, cut the rollups into strips about 3cm wide and rollup each strip. 
  8. As long as the puree is properly dry, they can be kept in an airtight container or jar for up to 2 weeks or can be kept in the freezer for longer. 

Notes:

  • If you have time, you can cook the rollups for longer at a lower temperature to make sure they don’t burn. At 100°C they will take around 6 hours and at 50°C they will take about 12 hours. The oven will need regular monitoring.
  • If the rollups have gone crispy when you take them out of the oven, leave them on the baking paper for a few hours until they have softened, then cut into strips. 
  • At Garden to Table, we believe that any food can be eaten in moderation. These rollups are high in sugar but keep in the fibre that helps fills your stomach up. These are much better for you than the ones you can buy in the shop, but they are still not an everyday food – enjoy them as a sweet lunchbox treat every now and then. 

RECIPE: Cheesy snail bread

Adapted from Nadia’s Comfort Kitchen.

20 servings.

Equipment:

  • Large mixing bowl. 
  • Measuring spoons. 
  • Scales.
  • Tea towel.
  • Baking tray. 
  • Baking paper. 
  • Knife.
  • Rolling pin. 
  • Small bowl.
  • Pastry brush.

Ingredients for pizza dough:

  • 1 cup (250ml) warm water.
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast.
  • 1 teaspoon sugar.
  • I Tablespoon olive oil.
  • 400g flour (either high-grade or plain flour), plus extra for dusting (2 2/3 cup in total). 
  • 1 teaspoon salt.

Ingredients for filling:

  • ½ cup chutney, relish, pesto, marmite, sweet chilli sauce, or tomato puree. 
  • I cup seasonal vegetables of your choice, e.g., cherry tomatoes (with seeds squeezed out), chopped spinach, cooked pumpkin, frozen, canned or fresh corn kernels. 
  • 1 ½ cups grated cheese.
  • 1 egg, whisked, or 2 tablespoons milk, for brushing. 

How to make the pizza dough:

  1. Put the water in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle over the yeast and sugar and gently stir. Leave the mixture in a warm place for about 10 minutes until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture is frothy.  
  2. Pour in the olive oil. 
  3. Mix in the flour and salt. Mix with your hands to form a dough. Add a little more flour if it seems too sticky. Knead the dough on a lightly surface until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).  
  4. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave in a warm place to prove for 40 minutes to an hour until the dough has doubled in size.  

How to make the snail bread:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.  
  2. Cut the dough into 2 pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a rectangle about 25cm by 30 cm on a lightly floured surface. 
  3. Spread each rectangle with chutney, relish, or pesto. Sprinkle over the vegetables and cheese. 
  4. Carefully roll each rectangle into a log along the long edge, stretching the edge over to seal it.  
  5. Cut each roll into 10 snail-like pieces and place on the baking tray about 2 cm apart.  
  6. Brush with beaten egg or milk. 
  7. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.  
  8. Remove from the oven. Caution – hot! Ask an adult to help you with this. 
  9. Leave to cool.

Notes:

  • These freeze well so are perfect for lunchboxes. Keep in a plastic bag or container in the freezer. Defrost overnight in the fridge, ready for lunch.  
  • Some chutneys are high in sugar so can leak out of the scrolls and burn. Watch them carefully while they are cooking.  
  • The dough can be used to make mini pizzas for lunchboxes too. Roll out the dough into small discs. Top with tomato puree, chosen toppings and cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes at 220°C. These will freeze well for lunches too.