{BACK TO SCHOOL} Lunch box essentials for the pantry

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

We are back into our routine with making lunches, today I thought I would share with you some of the lunchbox essentials that are always stocked in my pantry.

  • Rice crackers – if I don’t have any fresh or frozen muffins or cookies I will give the kids some rice crackers
  • Apricot Balls & Pretzels – These are a nice little treat to give to the kids (not often), but when their lunchbox needs something extra this helps fill it up (apricot balls found in the dried fruit section in the supermarket) 
  • Dried Apricots – If our fruit supply is low the kids enjoy a mixture of sultanas, dried apricots, apples and mango. With a few rice bubbles added for some crunch!
  • Rice Cakes & Cruskits – For the day’s I have run out of bread, usually towards the end of the week as I buy 3 loaves and freeze them.  The kids like these spread with cheesybite.

What are your lunch box pantry essentials?

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Diane Ballard on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 5:51 AM

On Sunday nights I will spend about an hour in the kitchen making up some items to help get the kids through the nice week.
Jelly-I make this using juice & gelatine
Yoghurt- in a maker
Donut muffins-make plain muffins then while warm, poke a hole in & add jam, then roll through sugar & cinnamon
Fried rice-my teen doesn’t like sandwiches, but loves this. Cooked rice fried with a scrambled egg, bit if ham, frozen mix veg, & just plain soy sauce.
Drumsticks-roast for an hr, then wrap in Al foil & freeze. Put into lunchbox frozen & we haven’t had problems
I’ve also made ahead sandwiches & freeze these as well.
I don’t premake all this every Sun, just a few items to help us grab things quickly

Other essentials are popping corn that I microwave fresh that morning
Fruit & vege- my kids prefer veg, so carrots sticks, beans, even mushrooms.

Amanda Cullen on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 6:01 AM

Not just great ideas for school but would be great for work as well , thanks 🙂

Rachel Jones on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 6:34 AM

Muesli bars – homemade or store variety.

Nadia Rimmer on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 6:46 AM

My kids love cold fried rice or cold chicken wings/drumsticks as well. It makes a nice change from sandwiches for them 🙂

Nadia Rimmer on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 6:49 AM

And I make popcorn and store it in a Tupperware modular mate. Keeps it really fresh and I can just grab some to pop into their lunchboxes.

Lisa January 26, 2012 - 6:55 AM

Thanks Katrina for prompting up to stock up our pantries! We are gluten free/dairy free/nut free. Our staples include:
* gluten free pretzels (http://www.trialiafoods.com.au/acontent%20catalogue/c24763.php)
* wholegrain sakata rice creackers
* coles brand pear snack packs
* rice cakes spread with “no nut” butter
* cans of chickpeas (for making hommos)
* dried apple snacks (http://www.bellamysorganic.com.au/catalogue/).

Lisaj_1979 May 31, 2012 - 10:52 AM

I love the tortilla’s! they keep really well for when the bread runs out.. My kids are younger and still like a simple lunch so even plain tortilla’s which i cut into shapes like cars or trains they love.. plus it’s easy and you can do it the night before if you pack it in a zip loc bag!

Bek Straughan on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 7:35 AM

I make my own Apricot Delight. Easy to do and much more cost effective! justfordaisy.blogspot.com

Lyndall Johnston Leonard on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 8:15 AM

Bek – recipe on blog? Link please!!

Lyndall Johnston Leonard on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 8:17 AM

I agree with all these things. Ladies, did you know that microwave popcorn is one of the most toxic things you can buy? Make it yourself and spare your family the cancerous chemicals from the plastic/microwave combo. Please!!!

Keri Welter on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 8:30 AM

I agree Lyndall – a friend of my daughter’s brought over a packet of microwave popcorn last weekend and I read the ingredients – omg – partially hydrogenated soybean oil was the one that stood out for me, not to mention artificial flavours (why do you need to flavour popcorn?!?) and colours (ditto). Popcorn cooked in coconut oil and a bit of salt on the stove is delicious and much less toxic.

Judi Hutchinson on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 8:34 AM

We pop our own for home but Coles has an organic popcorn ready popped which I keep in freezer and put into mini ziplock bags for a lunchbox treat

The Organised Housewife on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 8:39 AM

Bek Straughan yes, please share the link to recipe!

The Organised Housewife on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 8:41 AM

I love all ur ideas. Diane Ballard the fried rice is a great option, Im adding it to our lunchbox menu

Bek Straughan on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 9:26 AM

Sorry on iphone so did the lazy link up! Here is the link! Enjoy! http://justfordaisy.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-baking-yummy-apricot-delight.html
It makes a big batch but lasts in the fridge or freezer! 🙂

Melissa January 26, 2012 - 9:36 AM

I make wraps for my kids. They love them and are a great way to get veggies and salads into them. Avocado, cheese, grated carrot and cucumber, baby spinach leave and ham or turkey with a drizzle of salad cream. They always finish them.

I freeze slices of fruit which they love in the morning and they help to keep the lunchbox cold.

Channy January 26, 2012 - 10:11 AM

How do you stop the cruskits going soggy by lunch time?

Lisa January 31, 2012 - 7:11 PM

Hi Channy

I wrap the boys rice cakes in alfoil & put in lunchbox. The lunchbox is made up at night ready to collect in the morning. I have done this for jam, cheese & vegemite & nut butters and they are still reasonably crunchy by lunchtime. I imagine cruskits would be the same. Hope this helps.

Juanita March 11, 2012 - 9:14 PM

I know this is late so I hope you see it! I find not putting butter or marg on helps keep them from going soft. I think they stay pretty crunchy with peanut butter on them.

Katrina March 12, 2012 - 5:08 PM

My kids don’t complain of them going soggy, but your right Juanita, there really is no need for margarine when spreading on peanut butter

Prue Steward on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 10:36 AM

Can you freeze fried rice? Trying to be an organized housewife 🙂

Lea McAuliffe on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 12:40 PM

Yep I always do just in little/big containers

Alexandra Runge on Facebook January 26, 2012 - 2:42 PM

we do lots of hommus and guacamole with veggie sticks!!

Meg January 26, 2012 - 3:21 PM

Essentials here are premium crackers or rice cakes, homemade dried fruit, few tins of two fruits or similar. Baked beans or tinned spaghetti for the times my 6 yr old is refusing sandwiches and then some honey tiny teddys as an occasional treat for very good behaviour 🙂

Zara January 26, 2012 - 3:49 PM

Meg I was just talking to hubby about drying fruit, how do you do it?

Julie July 8, 2012 - 12:14 PM

Hi Zara
A Dehydrator is the best way to dry fruit. Pick up a cheap one either online or at goodguys etc (i got one online for $70)…. to see if you like using it before you go on to buy a more expensive one (can get up to around $400-$500). Can make SO many things – biltong (dried  meat – it is a treat for some 😉 ), vegetable chips etc…

Pcorderoy July 8, 2012 - 5:58 PM

Hi, I’d love to make some biltong using a dehydrator.. can you tell me how? thankyou!!

Anne Brook on Facebook January 27, 2012 - 12:53 AM

Do the rice cakes not go soggy with with cheesymite? Maybe have to give its try…

Melissa Mitchell January 27, 2012 - 9:08 AM

Both of my boys love Rice Crackers and the Apricot Balls. What’s Cheesybite?? I might try some rice cakes for them though, not a bad idea. I used to eat them often, haven’t bought any for ages. Other than Dried Apricots (and occasionally dried apples for Alexander) I can’t get my boys to touch dried fruit. They both inherited my dislike for sultanas

Katrina January 27, 2012 - 9:59 PM

Cheesybite is the cheesy flavoured Vegemite, like vegemite but not as strong a flavour.

Donna January 27, 2012 - 12:20 PM

Loving the suggestions. I always have popping corn in the pantry. It takes just minutes to pop some corn in the morning before school and it’s a nice treat to find in the lunch box.

Katrina January 27, 2012 - 9:56 PM

Great idea!

Marissa January 27, 2012 - 3:36 PM

Thanks for those great tips. Dried fruit is also our trusted back up. Long(er) life flat breads & tortillas have also been handy to have in the pantry when bread supply is low. Fillings include, cheesymite, low fat mayo with grated cheese & grated carrot.

Marissa January 27, 2012 - 3:37 PM

Cheesybite, that is!

Katrina January 27, 2012 - 9:54 PM

hmmm…. is that all together Marissa? Might see if my kids will try it?

Marissa January 30, 2012 - 8:34 AM

Giggling at myself Katrina! No, they haven’t been brave enough to try all of those together yet. I do know a friend who adds a thin spread of vegemite to her salad sandwiches so I should probably “never say never”!

colette April 15, 2012 - 8:31 PM

might go try some apricot balls! I’ve seen before you having yoghurt covered somethings (sultanas??) Where do you get them?

Katrina April 16, 2012 - 11:14 AM

The yoghurt covered balls can be found in the health food section of the supermarket. The apricot balls are in the dried fruit section. Hope the kids enjoy them!

Nikki May 31, 2012 - 10:35 AM

There are some great ideas being posted! Our school has a Crunch & Sip Policy which means the ONLY snacks allowed are fresh fruit & if you must put in something else multigrain crackers & cheese or yoghurt. No drinks exept water. The school canteen also only has healthy options available. So our lunchbox looks like this: 1x Banana, 5x Strawberries, 1x healthy sandwich, Multigrain Crackers & cheese or yoghurt. It has taught the kids so much about healthy eating & i find our daughter making healthier choices at hone too!

Tracey May 31, 2012 - 11:07 AM

My kids also enjoy the dried crunchy bananas as a treat.

HelenR May 31, 2012 - 11:25 AM

Our lunchbox pantry essentials are pretzels, rice crackers, muesli bars, home cooked “air popped” popcorn, dried banana chips, dried apricots and sultanas.

Jess May 31, 2012 - 2:45 PM

Little tins of tuna & spaghetti.

Vanessa July 8, 2012 - 12:28 PM

I make a mix of rice party mix popcorn nuts and one bag of chocolate nuts. The chocolate element is small the bulk comes from the popcorn and it’s healthy with a small amount of treat being the chocolate. I make it in a large tub and use a measuring cup to scoop one cup into a zip lock bag.

June July 8, 2012 - 1:06 PM

Plain milk poppers a couple of a days a week. Don’t really do prepackaged food. Make our own yoghurt, chips, roasted chickpeas, roasted corn kernls, grain free bars. Everything is fructose free in our house.

Jesta July 24, 2012 - 10:04 PM

Pantry essentials for us are, 
Big tub of seeds (sunflower and pepitas) dried apricots, banana chips and sultanas to make little containers of trail mix.Popcorn, Pretzels, plain corn chips, sesame snaps, large tins of two fruits ( I divide into small containers).Rice thins, dry biscuits (salada’s, cruskits, sakata’s), Plain marie or arrowroot biscuits.Dried cereal such as cheerios, mini wheats etc

Suzanne August 18, 2014 - 4:12 PM

HI , how long would it be safe to keep rice cakes with vegemite and butter already made up in pantry for, would clad wrap and clad bags help?

Suzanne August 19, 2014 - 9:40 AM

OOPPss I meant in fridge not pantry!

Katrina August 20, 2014 - 1:28 PM

Hi Suzanne, Ooh i would only keep them in overnight. I think anything after that they may go a bit chewy.

Suzanne August 20, 2014 - 10:18 PM

You are very right Katrina, I tried they did go soggy! Been thinking of doing school lunches 2 days ahead, Will stick to my usual routine. A extra minute in the morning wont disrupt school run.


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