Helping you survive “back-to-school”


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Can you believe that January is at an end?!
The year is flying by…Christmas and New Years celebrations feel like a lifetime ago, and I don’t know about you, but I for one am scrambling to be back-to-school-ready .
School bag, book bag, swim bag, stationery list, uniform, shoes, socks, lunchbox, drink bottle, nametapes – the reasons I’m awake at 3.15am on a Saturday morning.


billabong-atomBoys seem to destroy things, really quickly.
A brand new uniform was painted on, cut into, and drawn on with Vivid within the first month…and the amount of shoes we go through in a year is ridiculous! BUT we’ve had a win – of all the school bags we’ve been through, the one that’s come out on top is the Billabong Atom backpack which we found on Surfstitch.
It’s the perfect size for all the primary school gear, not too big for a child to wear, it’s affordable, and it’s heading into it’s second year of school. I’m yet to find a book bag and swim bag that I love that also lasts at least the school year – so hit me with your recommendations!

Lunchtime – the best part about school.
As much of the #hotmessmum that I can be, I’m actually a huge geek when it comes to lunches. I’m a totally sucker for a cool lunchbox. I genuinely enjoy making lunches pretty, and finding new recipes to try. We’re really lucky that our school hasn’t banned allergens like nuts, eggs and dairy…but they do appreciate when we avoid using them out of respect for those kids who react severely. Although it can be hard eliminating nuts, eggs and dairy completely, there’s a real sense of accomplishment when you find a healthy solution, that the kids will actually eat! Here are our top 10 most-used allergen-free school lunch items:

I like that homemade usually means you can make it healthy, and it tends to work out better on the wallet if you make extra ‘dinner’ to use for lunches. When you’re on a budget, the repetition of lunchbox fillers can sometimes get boring for the little ones, so here are a few ideas that are budget friendly and easy to adapt.

Homemade sushi: really easy to make, once you get the hang of the technique! (Video coming soon). We love a tuna/avo or chicken/avo combo. Sometimes you can trick them into eating lots of veges by calling it ‘rainbow’ sushi (julienned cucumber, carrots, red capsicum, pickled turnip etc)
Sliders: total win! Nothing like mini-burgers for lunch. And even better if they’re leftovers from last night’s dinner, which saves cooking twice. I often make extra patties regardless if it’s a school night or not, as the cooked meat patties are handy to have in the freezer ready to go.
Filled rolls: our fave combo is pulled pork and coleslaw – once again usually leftovers from the night before! Chicken and salad is a close second.
Wraps: fill with anything that takes your fancy! We often use leftover roast meat (chicken is lil man’s fave) and salad. If you don’t have wraps, just use sandwich bread with the crusts removed.
Summer rolls: a little tricky to make but SO worth practicing (and having to eat the ones that failed…tehehe). Again, these usually feature on the lunch menu if they’re left over from the night before. Chicken and/or shrimp, shredded lettuce, shredded carrot, bean sprouts and coriander (I leave this out for the lil man). Pack a little spill-prof container if dipping sauce.
Carrot sticks + homemade hummus: yummy and so easy. Check out our hummus recipe which omits tahini (sesame paste, a common allergen – Hubby is allergic!). Also delicious with celery sticks, rice crackers and corn/rice thins.
Fruit salad: cut into cute shapes or bite-sized chunks. Serve in cups, or on skewers, and we like to make it more fun by adding fun food picks to eat the fruit with.
Smoothies: an easy, yummy boost of fruit. And a great way to use up leftover fruit salad. Freeze in reusable pouches to keep the whole lunchbox cool. Check our top 5 recipes here.
Allergen-free chocolate cupcakes: not an every day food, but a nice surprise for lunch (let’s be honest, it will be gone by morning tea!). It’s egg, dairy, and nut free, and gluten free if you use a gluten free flour mix in place of standard flour. Recipe here.
Dehydrated vegetable ‘chips’: ok so this one isn’t home made, but I love having them in the pantry as a back up, and alternative to potato chips. I have only managed to find these in the bulk food bins at selected PakNSave and New World stores, so I stock up when I find them.

Rule of thumb
We have a rule at our place, where no other food/treat is allowed until all lunchbox items have been eaten. Sometimes I have to bring out the big guns if I find that food is coming home uneaten. Little details such as fun food picks, or sandwiches cut into cute shapes, or fruit/veges stamped out with cookie cutters – these can make all the difference to how the ‘healthy’ lunch is perceived (and whether it’s eaten).

We have 20 sets of our favourite crazy-eyes food picks to liven up your school lunches!
Just make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter, and you’re automatically in the draw. The 20 lucky subscribers will be notified via email.


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