All the latest news from the farm and the kitchen
by Clare Fairs, August 25, 2018
A sandwich, a packet of crisps, a chocolate biscuit bar and one piece of fruit. That’s a typical packed lunch for many children, according to the Children’s Food Trust – but it’s one that serves up more than a six-year-old’s entire daily sugar limit.
It’s also a standard lunch for many busy adults, whether they’ve made it themselves or picked it up as a ‘meal deal’ on their lunch break. Yet adults need a nutritious lunch just as much as children – and this won’t power anyone through the day!
The NHS recommends that lunchboxes for adults and children alike should contain carbohydrates (such as bread, rice, potatoes or pasta), protein (meat, fish, eggs or beans), dairy or dairy alternatives (such as cheese or yogurt), and vegetables or salad and fruit.
If you’re prone to getting stuck in a rut with packed lunches, try filling in a whiteboard meal planner on a Sunday or the day you do your shopping to help you avoid going on midweek autopilot and making the same sandwiches day after day.
Starchy foods deliver the energy to work, learn or play throughout the afternoon. Sandwiches, rolls and wraps are the obvious choice but many supermarket loaves and bread products are far from healthy.
Traditionally, bread takes anywhere between four hours to 16 hours to make and contains only flour, water, salt and yeast (although sourdough doesn’t even need this). Industrially produced bread, on the other hand, is made in an hour or less. Large quantities of yeast and ascorbic acid (E300) give the proving process an artificial boost while caramelised sugar or food colouring add the golden colour that would be missing otherwise. To extend the shelf life, preservatives such as acetates (E260-3) and propionates (E280-3) are also added.
Visit traditional bakers for artisan loaves to avoid the artificial ingredients or make your own at home instead. Invest in a bread maker for quick and easy bread making or enjoy making your own by hand (a la Paul Hollywood). Get started with our recipe from Marriage’s for malted brown loaf or Carl Shillingford’s ciabatta.
Homemade soda bread is another great option. The rise is created by the reaction between buttermilk and bicarbonate of soda so no proving time is needed. Try our recipe for fig and rosemary spelt soda bread to see how quick and easy it is to make!
When making sandwiches, aim to always add salad or veggies to help you or your child reach their 5-a-Day target. We love chicken and salad, egg mayonnaise with watercress, cheese and tomato, tuna and sweetcorn (with a squirt of our mayo or salad cream), hummus with grated carrot, and leftover roast meat with homemade slaw.
On days when you’d like a break from bread, opt for pasta, rice, cous cous, quinoa or potato salads, using up dinner leftovers whenever possible to make life easier. All of these can provide a healthy balance of carbs, protein, dairy and veggies.
Children, meanwhile, will love pasta salads made with tuna, sweetcorn, cannellini beans and grated cheese dressed in a little of our mayonnaise, which you might also like to mix with pesto, white wine vinegar or sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes.
After a portion of fruit, satisfy those chocolate cravings with a homemade treat with less sugar, saturated fat and additives than shop-bought items. You’ll find lots of tempting ideas in our recipes section including our healthier chocolate brownies, chocolatey oat crumble cookies, and banana and chocolate bread (which is the ideal way to use up any brown bananas lingering in the fruit bowl!).
Do you have any more tasty ideas for heathier lunchboxes? We’d love to hear them! Share your ideas or photos with us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or our contact form.