One of the many things I worried about upon my return to work was providing packed lunches for the then three-year old Katie. Although she had obviously attended nursery before, they had always provided a hot lunch. At her preschool there isn’t a facility for this and I was really concerned about getting things ‘right’.
At home, I would usually just ask Katie what she wanted to eat, maybe giving a few options but really just throwing together stuff from the fridge. If she was still hungry, she could obviously just ask for more so I usually opted to give her a small portion to begin and go from there. I knew from parent’s evening at school that some parents packed ‘too much’ but I wasn’t actually sure what constituted too much.
Additionally at both home and her old nursery, she also ate a wide variety of food each week. I imagined that I would just fall into a pattern of packing the same food each day or her becoming more picky after seeing what other children were eating. Or even that she would just end up feasting on one particularly food group as it’s so easy to just chuck in a load of packaged things that are a bit ‘samey.’
It was therefore with some relief that I discovered the ‘Yumbox.’ It may be nothing more than a glorified lunchbox, but the Yumbox is essentially a leak proof bento box that is comprised of a pre-portioned illustrated tray which is then enclosed in a moulded tray.
I have the Original version for Katie, which has 6-compartments. Each accommodating 1/2 cup portion along with one smaller space for a dip or treat. Although the box might look a bit plain to begin with – the pictures are revealed once the lunch is gone! These portions are meant to be the ‘right’ amount for the average toddler to eight year-old – however, each compartment is also illustrated to show the different food groups – protein, dairy, grains, fruit, and veg – so gives you a good idea about what to pack as well as how much.
I also knew that Katie will basically eat anything if it looks exciting enough, so I also invested in an array of cute Bento forks (for a grand £3 from Amazon) and dug out all our various cookie cutters. Ordinarily Katie would turn her nose up a raw carrot but ‘carrot flowers’ are another story. The logic baffles but I don’t really care given that she eats it!
Keeping her lunches free of cow protein limits our options a little and school also operates a nut free policy – but if you’re struggling with ideas do check out Yumbox on Instagram as there’s some really cool ideas that people have thrown together!
I realise that the Yumbox is pretty expensive for a lunchbox and don’t think you need to buy one to put together a lunch like this as you could easily just divide food into little tubs or something. However, I have been impressed with how well the box holds all the food and have found it’s super easy to clean (top rack of dishwasher!) so would personally buy one again. I can pack a lunch in about five minutes and I rarely find myself struggling for ideas about what to include.
I can’t pretend Katie’s lunches are as impressive as some of the examples out there but here’s a few ideas of what she’s been eating over the past couple of months:
- Boiled egg, ham sandwiches, Goats cheese, pretzels, strawberries, tomatoes and Bear paws.
- Mini sausages, chicken sandwiches, Goats cheese, apple, Fruit yo-yos, carrot and cucumber.
- Pork sandwiches, popcorn, Ella’s kitchen ‘White One’, watermelon, Bear paws, tomatoes and cucumber.
This isn’t a sponsored post – I just really like Yumbox. But here’s an affiliate link to the Yumbox on Amazon if you wanted to buy one: