Lunch. It seems to be on my mind a lot lately (but to fair when is food not? ?). I recently got Oscar a new lunch bag, when his existing one started causing concerns I’d never even envisaged, and a few weeks ago I was invited by the lovely people at Capri-Sun to join them for a lunch box hack workshop in London to celebrate the launch of their Fruit Crush all fruit juice drink. Until recently Oscar would only drink water, but once he found ‘juice boxes’ that was it, he was in love. So I was interested to find out more about an option that could also be counted as is 1 of your 5 a day. Capri-Sun Fruit Crush is made with 75% Fruit Juice and 25% Spring Water and is available in three flavours, so I was interested to see whether it could find a place in our lunch boxes.
When I first got the invite, I immediately knew Oscar wasn’t ready for the craft and fun they were promising the little people. However, I also knew my friend’s daughter would love it, so invited Cecily and her mummy Bethany to come with me. And I still believe they would have loved it, however Bethany was so poorly that weekend, I ended up going alone. Hope you’re feeling better now Bethany!
The event was run at the London family members club Maggie and Rose in Kensington, and while the children were entertained in one space, we mummies and daddies sat in another. The set up immediately piqued my interest. I mean, what were we going to do with cookie cutters and dried spaghetti?
I’ve never been particularly creative when it comes to Oscar’s lunch. At the moment we mostly eat at home and that mostly involves sandwiches (cut into squares) made from gluten free bread and one of a number of fillings (his favourite du jour is Dairylea, but he’ll eat most things to be fair. As long as it’s not green!) Trimming the crusts off is my only nod to fancy (and I only do that because then he’ll weirdly eat more of the sandwich than when I don’t!). So, believe me when I say I was a leeeetle sceptical about making a ‘fun’ lunch. I mean who has time for that, right?
The workshop was run a blogger I’d not come across before, Grace from Eats Amazing. Grace’s hobby of getting her children to eat healthy food, has turned into an obsession. For Capri-Sun’s Fruit Crush #PackedLunchLove Project She had designed five bento style packed lunches and the first thing she did was show us how quick and easy the Dinosaur one was to make.
What a great idea and so ridiculously simple it was almost embarrassing that I’d never thought to try something like it before. You can find the directions to create this fun but healthy dino themed lunchbox here.
So once we’d seen just how simple a fun lunch could be, it was our turn to have a go. Only Grace decided it would be fun for us to have a crack at a really special lunch, one she was at pains to explain she wouldn’t make every day. In fact she explained she would usually only play with one or two elements per box (as you can see in the Dino lunch). Doing that and adding a couple of eyes or character picks is usually enough to have even the most inscrutable child bowled over. But to give us some real practice on the bento lunch style, we were set the task of creating a ‘Woodland Themed’ lunch, complete with Owl sandwich, egg mouse, grape acorns and carrot leaves.
And I loved every minute of it!
It was too much fun and while I would never have time to do this kind of thing every day (sorry Grace, I just wouldn’t!) it was amazing to see what you could create with just a little bit of thought, and some awesome cutters.
I had such a great day, but what I really came away with was inspiration. Such as:
- If you’re cutting the crusts off bread, do it before you add the filling. Then bag up any crusts you have, in the freezer. When you next need breadcrumbs, whizz up the left overs and hey presto, breadcrumbs. I’ve already started doing this at home!
- The wax on Babybel cuts easily and sticks to itself, meaning you can make a boring cheese look super exciting!
- When cutting out shapes from vegetables, keep the left overs. These can be used in all sorts of ways later on (beak of an Owl sandwich anyone? Soup?)
- To keep it exciting, stock up on a few different types of breads (such as rolls, pittas, wraps, muffins etc) and keep them in the freezer. They last for ages and you can mix it up as you go along. Use it frozen and it will be thawed by lunch time – no defrosting needed!
- Although we don’t like it, I learnt hummus freezes really well. You can freeze it in all sorts of shaped ice cube trays and the frozen hummus will hold it shape, even when it defrosts. How cool is that?
- Once you start looking around you’ll be amazed what you can use to spruce up a packed lunch. Cocktail stirrers, cookie cutters, cake flags, the list is endless. And there is such a thing as an edible marker. Who knew?!
I was amazed. It had never occurred to me to cut pitta at an angle to make a dinosaur spike, or to dip frozen grapes in chocolate to make acorns. Heck, it had never occurred to me to theme his lunch full stop. But it really is that simple. With a few tweaks on a bog standard lunch and a few little additions (picks, eyes etc) Grace created something so cool, even I wanted to tuck in!
And that was the philosophy of the day I guess. Take the familiar, be that food or drink, look at it from a different angle and BOOM! you’ve got a whole box of healthy fun. I would never have thought to take a cookie cutter to a carrot and I would never have thought to give Oscar Capri-Sun Fruit Crush.
I do both now.
Thank you so much to everyone involved in the #PackedLunchLove workshop. Thank you to Capri-Sun for arranging such a wonderful day and to Grace for inspiring me to give it a go.
You can find all the picks, eyes and lunch accessories you could ever need at Grace’s Eats Amazing Shop
I was given a Yumbox to carry my creations home in and boy do we love it! Watertight and secure, Oscar wants to eat every meal out of it now! You can find out more about Yumbox here
I wasn’t paid for this post and as always all opinions are my own.