Today I made rice paper rolls for my kids to take to school in their lunchbox. [Recipe below] Adorable little ones with chicken, avocado and a bunch of colourful stuff. You see, I’ve been on a lunchbox improvement quest.
A fortnight ago, I asked my Instagram audience whether they ever gave their kids a prepackaged snack… and I was stunned at the response. Almost half of you said NEVER. N. E. V. E. R. Whoa!
Gimme a minute.
My kids love fruit. They love vegetables. In fact, they even love Greek yoghurt, sauerkraut and edamame (not necessarily together). But they’d also sell me down the river for a pack of Tiny Teddies. Don’t get me started on what they’d do for Roll-Ups.
There are a LOT of snacks to produce in a week.
After school, snack, before swimming, snack, pre-gymnastics, snack, stay quiet in mummy’s meeting, snack, this traffic is worse than I expected, snack. I mean, there’s only so many wholesome combinations I can mosaic into their high-end, luxury goods priced bento lunchbox before I’m reaching for a muesli bar… amiright?
But, seeing how dedicated half of you were, it got me feeling all self-improvey.
(About 94% of my parenting journey has been about seeing someone do something and wondering if I should be doing the same. The other 6% is wiping surfaces and drinking cold cups of tea.)
*Carrie Bradshaw screen typing effect*
I wondered, Could I lift my lunchbox game?
Probably. If we’re continuing with this minefield of imaginary statistics, I think I’d like to replace about 62% of my reliance on packaged snacks with homemade stuff. I’m not about to make my own Vita Wheats or anything.
As someone who readily plunges headfirst into all the sparkly ludicrousness of children’s parties, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that I don’t like too much novelty in lunchboxes.
For a Star Wars party, yes, I’ll make a complicated layered concoction just for the giddy thrill of calling it ‘Princess Seven Leia Dip‘ but you won’t catch me making a salad face on a crispbread. Sure, I’m all for unicorn pancakes on a Sunday morning, but at lunch there isn’t an anthropomorphic creature in sight. Not even a penguin.
Because parties and Sunday mornings are one thing, and day to day eating is another. Yes, I’m a bit of a schoolmarm about it. Unapologetically so. I want my kids to be excited about their food because it’s fantastic not because it can wave to them.
I have two fussy eaters in my family as it is… and only one of them is a child. Enough of my limited time goes into creating nutritious meals that will actually be eaten by these two people while not boring the remainder of the family senseless; imagine if I added contrived bunny rabbit sushi and zebra muffins to the mix?!
Here’s a rod, here’s my back.
As an alternative, I’m now a mum on a mission. The goal is to find things that are fun enough that they (almost) rival the bag of rice crackers, but simple enough that I’m not up ’til midnight carving something into the shape of a Doberman Pinscher riding a bike.
Can it be done? I think so. But we’ll need a lot of vegemite sandwiches as backup. How long will this last? I’m predicting ye olde snacke boxe of crinkly packets will rear its head again shortly. *maniacal laughing emoji* Perhaps we’ll find a good mix?
As with all things, including self-improvement, the key is moderation. We’re allowed to have days where we just need small people to be quiet and happy for ten minutes and, if in those moments you pull out the packet of Tim Tams, I certainly won’t judge. As long as you give me one.
I would love to hear all your lunchbox ideas in the comments section below.
Kinda Nice Rice Paper Rolls
Personally, I loved these rice paper rolls. They were a little different to the ‘adult’ ones I usually make but with all the expected fresh crunch. With some prep they took about twenty minutes to roll. Behold, the comments from my fearless critics.
“Too sticky for lunches. I don’t like when my food is sticky”
“Loved them. Just don’t make them again.”
Please, don’t believe these reviews. Much like on Amazon, some people are only on there to get a reaction. I actually think some little people (or big ones eating the leftovers) will really like these rolls. They’re infinitely customisable which helps.
- 8 sheets ricepaper
- 1 chicken breast
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 2 slices of ginger
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 2 cups coleslaw mix (minus the dressing) or similarly colourful salad
- 1 tablespoon Kewpie mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon kecap manis
- 1 cup brown rice
- coriander and mint
- To poach the chicken breast, bring the stock to the boil. Add the chicken breast and ginger then cover with a lid. After a minute turn off the heat and leave to cook through. This should take about half an hour. Check that it’s done inside before removing.
- Slice the cooled chicken and place to the side.
- Lay a damp tea towel on a cutting board. Fill a wide, shallow bowl with warm water.
- In a separate bowl, mix the Kewpie mayonnaise, kecap manis and salad mix.
- Take a sheet of rice paper and wet in the bowl of water for about 20 seconds then lay on your damp teatowel.
- Watch a YouTube video on how to roll rice paper rolls. Seriously.
- Place a few leaves of mint and coriander on the bottom. These will look pretty through the semi-translucent rice paper. Small children are big on presentation and fresh herbs. Omit if your particular humans won’t vibe with this look.
- Add a few slices of avocado, cucumber and the dressed salad mix.
- Finish with the chicken breast and roll up.
You may wish to serve these with an additional dipping sauce but the dressing on the salad mix was enough for me. Remember to put a little ice brick in the lunchbox so that when the roll comes back home in the afternoon it’s still fresh enough for you to eat it.
I’m only half kidding.
*Recipe was inspired by one in the most recent Woolworths Supermarket lunchbox magazine.