Posted in Recipes

School Lunches – Easy as 1, 2, 3 ! or is it…..???


You are busy enough aren’t you? So here’s the short of it – grab a copy of this table and get your child to pick from 1, 2 & 3 and please (for your sake) make them make their own lunch

NOTE: Because of allergies most school policy is NOT to bring anything with peanuts in – so exclude peanut butter from above


You are busy enough aren’t you?

And now you are expected to make packed lunches because the kids are going back to school.

I am now a very wise woman on the last year of school lunch making as my 5th & 6th child enter their Leaving Cert year. So listen to me. Learn from my mistakes.

Make your kid make their own lunch. It is amazing what a child is capable of given the tools and the opportunity

Besides saving you time there is actually a better chance that they will eat it because child A knows that they don’t like apples and child B knows that they only like green grapes and by the time you’ve gotten to child Z you will have mixed up all the lunch boxes anyway.

I’m going to give you something – here’s a link to the school lunches 1,2,3 table I devised a few years back – print it out laminate it or just have it on your phone – get your child to make their choices themselves – perhaps even help out in shopping for what they want as well.

(Here’s another link if you would like to read the definitive guide to school lunches)

No.1 = RED rows – Choose from the top row in Red, pick a Protein, a Plus 1 & Dress it up
No.2 = GREEN – Pick 1
No.3 = PURPLE – Pick 1

Want to read even more?

I’ve been in your shoes – several times and I’ve written about it before too. So if you want even more ideas and to check out what I learned over the years follow the links below to check out these three posts.

2012, 2011, 2010

Good Luck!

xx Sheila

Posted in School Lunches, What's for Dinner Mom?

…and we’re back!

Just like that summer’s over & we’re back.  Back to school, work, sport and routine!  Today the ‘Evening Echo’ has published a couple of recipes from my second cookbook ‘Enjoy!’ along with some of my ‘tips’ for back to school.  I did some work on a school lunches table a few years ago which can be useful to print out and stick on the fridge when you’re running blank on lunchbox ideas.  It’s available here and if you’d like to read up on some of my ‘tips’ they’re here.

I’m trying to be more organised myself for the dinners and grocery shopping and implementing a routine in that department too – so far this week we’ve had
Lasagne (from ‘Gimme the Recipe’)
Chicken Casserole (from ‘Gimme the Recipe’)
& today it was Conchigile Pasta (from ‘Enjoy!’)

From my Cookbook Enjoy! Food photography Marta Miklinska
From my Cookbook Enjoy! Food photography Marta Miklinska

But what’s for dinner tomorrow? Who knows! I shopped on Sunday for the Sunday roast and for three days dinners and that’s about all my mind and fridge can cope with in advance.  I’ll be pulling out the recipe books again tonight to write my list for tomorrow.

Top, top, top tip – write a list before you hit the supermarket and try to stick to it!
‘Til next time, Sheila.


Posted in School Lunches

School Lunches

Year on year the same resolution – ‘the kids will make their own lunches’ – but it never happens.  Until now!  I got organised and put a system in place and it’s working.  The greatest balker is of course the eldest who has been getting away without making his school lunch for 12 years now so I’m getting the odd plea from his corner of ‘ah please mom will you just make mine cos I have to……’ but the answer is a simple but firm ‘no.’
Perhaps many of you have kids who already are making their own lunches and good on you, I’m glad to finally be joining the ranks.
School Lunches

School Lunches

School Lunches

School Lunches

School Lunches

School Lunches

The ‘system’ involves being well stocked in the foods that they like and providing plenty of choices.  I’ll get up in the morning, give the kids a shout and then head to the kitchen to plonk the lunch boxes, breads, crackers, salads, dressings etc. all out on the worktop.  It then takes them max 5 minutes to put together their lunch whereasI’ve been wasting 30 precious minutes every morning for the past number of years making the 6 of them. (Let me not count the hours, weeks, days that adds up to!)
A few tips:

  • If cooking a roast for Sunday dinner throw on an extra joint for school lunches.
  • If dinner involves chicken breasts throw on an extra one or two to reserve for sandwiches.
  • Use left-over potatoes to make quick & easy potato salad – mash in chopped spring onion & plenty of mayo.
  • Keep left-over cooked pasta and stir through some pesto.
  • Make up a large bowl of salady bits e.g. lettuce, cucumber, tomato, red onion but do not mix them together so they can easily pick out their favourites.  Keep covered with cling-film in the fridge.
  • Offer a selection of breads e.g. pittas, panini, bagels, wraps to avoid lunch-boredom
  • Offer relishes, pestos etc to up the taste

For lots more tips see School Lunches – The Definitive Guide and for a table of ideas download School Lunches Table.

I would love to hear how you tackle school lunch making.
Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in School Lunches

School Lunches

Yes, it’s that time of year again and I’ve dispatched the eldest two children back to school today.  The other four will remain at home until Thursday so I’m easing myself back into the lunch-making. I’ve yet to meet a parent who doesn’t despair at this chore and last year I put together ‘School Lunches – The definitive guide’ to help with the task.  I’ve since updated it and made a few additions such as vol au vent cases and quesadillas.  A friend of my twin girls used to bring empty vol au vent cases to school last year and they were mad for them.  The last blog posting I did was for quesadillas so have a look at that for some more inspiration.  Again, I will be attempting to get my lot to make their own school lunch at least once a week – it was a struggle last year and I gave up in the end but NEW BEGINNINGS and all that….:)
For the latest version of ‘School Lunches – The Definitive Guide’ click on the link below the picture.  Til next time, Sheila.

School Lunches

School Lunches The Definitive Guide

Posted in School Lunches

Pitta Pizzas

Still on the topic of school lunches today I’m sharing a standby that goes down particularly well with my boys.  Pitta pizzas.  Great served hot at home for lunch or an anytime snack but equally good cold in the school lunch box.  The nice thing about pizzas is that you get to choose the toppings you like and for the boys that usually includes some chopped ham or salami.

You will need:
1 pitta bread
sundried tomato pesto or tomato puree (or in case of emergency Ketchup!)
grated cheddar (or torn mozzarella or crumbled feta etc..)
toppings – in this case cherry tomatoes & chorizo

heat the pitta in the toaster to puff it up a bit and cut it in half
coat each half with tomato pesto
sprinkle on the cheese
add the toppings
grill until cheese is melted

These can be as fancy or as plain as you like.  My favourite would be cooked chicken pieces, feta, red onion & torn basil.  A sprinkling of dried mixed herbs could really spruce up a Margherita version.
The next question to be answered is how do you get the pitta pizza to work in a school lunch box.

Firstly allow it to cool.  Next cut a piece of parchment paper to put between the two halves to prevent them from sticking together.  Finally pop it into a sandwich bag and it’s good to go.

I will be posting an easy dinner recipe on Thursday but in the meantime happy lunch making!
Til next time, Sheila.