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What are some quick, easy and interesting lunch box ideas that don’t compromise on health and nutrition?
By Sandhya Renukamba
Kids find it a chore to eat stuff that parents feel is ‘good for them’ – a fun element becomes necessary. The food also has to be something that can be quickly prepared and packed – in a household where both parents work outside, time is at a premium. Tips and lunch box ideas for Indian moms and dads:
1. Plan menus for the whole week ahead – both lunches and breakfasts. This ensures that things do not get repetitive, and you can plan accordingly.
2. You decide on the options, keeping in mind health and nutrition. The child decides on when she could have which. A sense of ownership over the decision-making will ensure compliance in eating the food prepared.
3. Take care not to pack unfamiliar food – especially for a very young child. Introduce it at the dinner table first, see how it is liked, and only then include it in the lunch box ideas.
4. Chopping/shredding/grating of veggies/cheese can also be done beforehand, and stored in the fridge overnight.
5. Items made should usually include those that stay well when packaged, and taste good even if cold.
6. Let the food cool a little before packing – this ensures that it does not spoil quickly.
7. Try to include a salad, fruit or yogurt flavoured with fruit puree as a side.
8. Whole grain foods and seasonal veggies/fruits are the tastiest without compromising on health and nutrition.
Time required: 15 mins.
½ cup packaged fusilli
2 cups water
1 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
1 medium onion
1 cup mushrooms
5-6 basil leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cheese cubes
1 tsp oregano
Pinch chilli flakes
Salt to taste
Bring water to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt and one cup of fusilli. Boil briskly for 8 minutes.
While it is boiling, prepare the sauce. Chop onions and garlic. Place in a large microwave safe bowl, mixed with olive oil. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. While that is being done, wash and chop tomatoes and mushrooms. Add to the bowl along with tomato paste. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Drain the boiled fusilli and add to the bowl. Crumble the cheese cubes, and mix in the bowl with basil, oregano, chilli flakes and salt to taste. Stir well. Microwave on high for 1 min. Cool a little before packing.
Time required: 12 mins
4 slices of whole wheat bread
4 tbsp tomato paste
One small capsicum / handful of mushrooms – chopped
4 slices of cheese
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees centigrade. In a bowl, mix together the tomato paste, chopped veggies, chilli flakes, oregano and salt. Butter slices of bread on both sides and lay out in a metal tray. Divide the sauce equally among them, and spread out to cover each slice. Place one cheese slice on each. Bake in the oven for 5-6 mins or until cheese melts and bubbles. Cool and pack in foil.
Time required: 10 mins
Wheat flour dough
3 cheese cubes / mozzarella cheese – grated.
Chop the onion and grate the cheese. Pour baked beans from the can into a bowl and microwave on high for a minute. Remove and mix in the onion and cheese. Roll out and cook 2 rotis on the tawa/griddle. Lay the hot rotis on a plate. Place a row of the baked beans mixture along the middle, and roll up the roti tightly. Wrap in foil.
Time required: 15 mins
½ cup pre-roasted sooji
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp chilli powder
1 cup plain yogurt
4 slices whole wheat bread
Chop onion and tomato. Mix with sooji, garam masala, chilli powder, yogurt, and salt to taste. Coat one side of each slice of whole-wheat bread. Shallow fry it on both sides till well browned and crisp. Pack with some ketchup/chilli sauce.
Time required: 10 mins
Whole wheat dough
2 cheese slices
Beat egg, salt and pepper in a bowl. Roll out a roti. Cook one side, flip it over, and pour half the egg mixture on it, spreading it to the edges. Flip, and let the egg cook – it sticks to the roti. Flip it over again, slide it onto a plate, place one cheese slice on it and roll it tight while hot. Use the remaining egg mixture for one more roti, similarly. Pack in foil.
Time required: 5 mins
4 left-over rotis
2 tbsp jaggery
2 tsp ghee
Sometimes too many rotis are left over at dinner. Keep them overnight in the fridge; fresh rotis can also be made if so wished – that will add 5 minutes to the above time. In the morning, process them in the mixie. Mix in jaggery (gur) and ghee. Form laddus and pack.
Half a loaf of bread, preferably whole-wheat
2 tsps oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
Crumble the bread. Chop the onion and tomatoes. Heat oil in a pan, with mustard seeds. When they crackle, add asafoetida, turmeric powder, onions, and tomatoes. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add the crumbed bread, chilli powder and salt. Mix well. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes. Mix well, cool, and pack.
Some other quick lunch box ideas are sandwiches, idli with chutney-podi, idli fry, small uuthappams, French toast, chilli cheese toast and lemon rice. So, what will you be packing for your child next?
*Photo credits: (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
Lunch box: Wendy Copley
Sliced bread pizza: Tahir Hashmi
Roti wrap: vickisee.com
Omelette roll: Kalyan Kanuri
Roti laddu: Carolina Egaña
Bread upma: Divya Kudua
In her role as the Senior Editor & Community Manager at Women's Web, Sandhya
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