TV personality and creative foodie genius, Jax Hamilton has come to the rescue with her handbook of tips, tricks, and delicious lunchbox recipes.
To inspire parents of school-aged children, Jax has teamed up with New Zealand’s favourite mayonnaise, Best Foods, to share her top tips, tricks, and recipes you can use to spruce up the kids lunches this term. Jax won the hearts of many Kiwis through her journey as runner-up on MasterChef NZ Series 2 with her energetic and inspiring personality alongside her creative culinary skills.
As a mother of two and successful businesswoman who ventured into the world of ‘foodie-dom’ Jax knows the stresses of preparing a variety of healthy school lunches that kids would want to eat every day.
“I used to work a corporate job while raising two kids so I know just how hard it can be to find the time and inspiration to make the kids lunches – and get them to actually eat it all! My own experience and love of food has made me especially passionate about inspiring others in the kitchen and making it fun and exciting,” Jax says.
Preparing school lunches can be a real chore for many parents – having a plan, getting them involved and using seasonal ingredients is key to making affordable lunches and is an excellent life skill to deliver to your kids.
Jax advises that the school holidays are the perfect time to get the kids into the kitchen with you and to trial new dishes, and she’s here to help. “Using creative but simple and out of the box recipes is a great way to get your kids involved and keep your kids excited about their food.”
One of Jax’s top tricks is to encourage kids to participate in ‘Rainbow Day’ where they select a colour for the day and create their lunch based around finding coloured ingredients such as sushi made of cucumber and avocado to represent green.
To help the many parents that deal with picky eaters returning their lunches uneaten, Jax recommends trying mystery-themed lunch boxes – this could be sandwiches cut to look like dinosaurs or adding in brain bogglers or jokes.
In addition to Jax’s school lunch hacks, she has created five drool-worthy dishes to try to make school lunch boxes more exciting and enjoyable. These include mac n’ cheese ham cups, quesadillas, veggie rostis, quiche and a corned beef wrap – all of which have incorporated Best Foods mayo or aioli to take them to the next level.
To discover Jax’s recipes creations see here.
1. Rainbow Day
Encourage your kids to pick a day and colour and create their lunch based around that colour. If the colour is green: cucumber sushi with avocado filling, green jelly, grapes, boiled egg cooked in water with green colouring. Keep it fun and exciting!
2. Reason for Season
Discover what’s in season and what will work in a lunchbox. During the warmer months, try sweetcorn. Experiment with herb flavours in pestos and dressings. During spring try grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon. In summer pop in berries and cherries.
3. Carb Remix
Shake up the classic bread and chippies combo swapping the chips with pretzels, corn chips, or falafels. Get creative and swap out bread for rice paper wraps, egg or rice noodles, or dumpling skins.
4. Mystery Lunch Box: no peeping until lunchtime
Try out a themed lunch: sandwiches are cut to look like animals, favourite cartoon characters, minions. Think outside the (lunch)box and incorporate some of your kids’ favourite things. Superhero box – try a super sammie or a super smoothie a.k.a Batman fuel.Harry Potter box – a carrot wand, frog shaped sandwiches
5. Brain Boggler
Hide a foodie brain boggler in the box – like find a letter that in ‘Pie’ but not in ‘pen’. Why did the student eat his homework? Because his teacher said it was ‘a piece of cake!”
6. Cool Kid Box – Frozen Lemon Juice Sponge
Take a thin wash up sponge and soak in water and lemon juice then squeeze out excess liquid. Seal the sponge in a bag and throw into the freezer. The next day, lay at the bottom of the lunchbox to keep lunch cool during hot days. When box comes home, remove from bag and use to wipe clean. No icky chemicals and fresh and natural (lemon is naturally anti-bacterial). Refresh the sponge by popping it through the dishwasher. Each child can have their own colour.
7. Jarred Lunches
In a small mason jar, begin with dressing. Layer with carbs, protein, salad and a crunchy topping – just shake, pop the top and good to go.
8. Sealed with a Minty Fresh Kiss
Once a week, use an old toothbrush and some toothpaste to clean along the seals and lunchbox handles. Abrasive, minty, fresh – safe and no stinky, sticky lunchbox!
Double up your dinner, like a fab meatloaf. Slice and pop into lunchboxes in the morning or freeze for when you need to whip up a lunch in a hurry.
10. #Be Kind
Pop an extra (something yummy) in the lunchbox and encourage your child to give it to someone less fortunate to make a new friend or cheer up someone who’s sad that day.