03 Jan What Would A Chef Do?
Louise Fulton Keats is a food writer with nutrition qualifications from Deakin University and mum to three-year-old Harry. We asked her what she packs for Harry’s lunch.
Who does most of the cooking at home?
Definitely me. As a food writer there’s a lot of recipe testing involved, so often it’s part of my everyday work. My husband likes to cook on weekends though and I’m all too happy to pass over the reins.
Are you a fan of simple school lunches or do you prefer things to be more interesting?
I definitely like to keep things interesting for breakfast and dinner, but with the rush that’s usually involved in packing a lunchbox, I’m relaxed about keeping it simple. Having said that, with the right ingredients on hand – like different grainy pieces of bread and varied fillings – even a sandwich can be wonderfully interesting. Also, if I’ve made crepes, pikelets or scones for breakfast I’ll keep one or two aside to pop in my son’s lunchbox with some butter and jam.
What are your top ideas for packing a healthy lunchbox?
I think one of the best lunchbox solutions is a nutritious spread you can store in the fridge and then pop on a sandwich when you’re in a hurry. One of my family’s favourites is cannellini-bean-and-tuna puree, which I make in my Thermomix, or a delicious hoummus (if you’re at a nut-free school, omit the tahini).
- Adding beetroot or broccoli to your hoummus is a great healthy variation – just steam it and you can whizz it straight through.
- Steamed sweet potato or pumpkin, soft enough to spread straight onto bread with some chicken and mayonnaise or cheese and avocado, is another sandwich idea. And if you’re looking to boost the nutritional value, a sprinkling of chia seeds is a great option.
- For a break from sandwiches, I also love a tomato-and-zucchini bake. You can freeze it in slices and just grab one as your child heads out the door, or bake it in a muffin tin for individual serves.
- The apricot-and-coconut-balls recipe in my book is a huge lunchbox winner because you can make them days before and they travel well.
How do you maintain variety in Harry’s lunches week after week?
Sandwiches are my lunchbox staple, so I rotate with lots of different breads (rye, sourdough, multigrain, spelt, wholemeal) and different spreads to add to other fillings (hoummus, baba ganoush, pesto, avocado, tzatziki). Having some healthy freezer options on hand – like mini wholemeal blueberry muffins – is another saviour.
I also use dinner leftovers, like roast chicken, wherever possible. I always have tomorrow’s lunch in mind when I’m cooking dinner and try to make extra.
Words by Brooke Tasovac