One of my life saving tools for planning my menus is my template. I always mention this when I talk about drawing up your menu plan.
To me this is the first step; it has helped me in numerous ways as I do meal plans for four families, all with different likes and dislikes, allergies and age differences.
How do you go about drawing up your template? The first thing you need to consider is what meals your template has to cover. For me it is school lunches and dinner. Today I am discussing how I came up with my school lunch template.
Why a template for school?
The reason for a school lunch template is that my girls all eat different things. However, it started with the previous school where they were in, as it had rules about what foods you were allowed to send to school.
School lunch is now a little easier as there are no restrictions and they finish reasonably early. My oldest daughter is home before 2pm and the two younger ones are home before 3pm where they previously only finished school at 3pm.
Other things you need to take into consideration are what kind of day they are having at school. Is there physical training during school, do they have after school sports, do they have a sports match, do they come home between extra murals? All these things must play a part in creating your template. For example, on days where they have sports matches, you want to try and give them healthy carbohydrates which will turn to energy not sugar. I am personally against energy drinks for young children but I know kids like them especially with the bright colours they come in.
On days when there is going to be sport, foods with legumes such as chickpeas (this is humus, when not in whole kernel form) should be added as well as dairy and whole grain pastas. Wholegrain bread, like rye bread, should be used for sandwiches. If the physical training during school is on different days for different children, you can see why a template would be necessary.
Options for school lunches vary:
Monday – I usually have vegetarian sausages, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks and snap peas with a dipping sauce such as 1000 Island dressing, curried mayonnaise. I add pretzels as their snack, plus a fruit.
Tuesday – One has cream cheese on rye, one has peanut butter on a seed bagel and one has chocolate spread on brown bread, fruit and a very small salad.
Wednesday – Pasta salad, I send with fruit and usually a small chocolate or biscuit
Thursday – cold meat sandwiches or cold meat and salad, with popcorn and fruit bites (either nuggets or Safari)
Friday – Cheese and tomato sandwiches, as they do a little sport on Friday’s.
It is sometimes difficult to find a good balance as not all the children eat the same fruit and one of my daughters pretty much only eats grapes and strawberries! One only eats green apples and the other only pink apples!
Having a template definitely helps as this way they will have a say in what they get for school. My husband gets the same lunch as the kids, but he is much easier as he eats anything you put in front of him!
Do you have a plan for school lunches? Who packs the lunches? Do the lunch boxes have a well balanced meal every day? Do your kids get tuck shop/ cafeteria food instead of a lunch box and what are they eating from the tuck shop/cafeteria? I would love to hear from you.