Mums and dads across Melbourne are about to deal with the relentless dilemma of what to put in their children’s lunch boxes as the beginning of the school year approaches. With that also comes the challenge of creating lunch boxes that are filled with food that’s healthy, easy to prepare and affordable. 

Melbourne mum Sarah Todd is a celebrity chef (you may remember her from season 6 of Masterchef!), ClickClack ambassador and mum to her son Phoenix. She said convenient foods are the easy option, but not always the cheapest or healthiest. Sarah provides us with her top tips on getting more bang for your buck when it comes to school meals. 

Naked lunch boxes  

This is something my son and I have been doing for the last two years. Everything in Phoenix’s lunch box has absolutely no packaging. It’s something we consciously work on together. 

Get the kids involved

It’s all about getting your children involved. Encourage them to prepare their own lunches. Talk to them about what they would like to eat at school and discuss healthier food and drink choices. This will help you save time, and they won’t complain about what’s in their lunch boxes, because they put it there!  

Turn your lunches into dinners

If it’s a meal your kids love to eat, why not make a little extra? Pop leftovers into a ClickClack container and send it with them to school the next day.  

Plan, plan, plan ahead 

Waking up in the morning and thinking ‘what am I going to pack for the kids’ lunches?’ is a recipe for disaster. On a Sunday morning, make some time to plan the week ahead. Write a shopping list that actually meets your needs and doesn’t result in food wastage. 

Buy in bulk

You don’t need to purchase the carrots that are already cut up for you…buy a bag of them and chop them up yourself. Same goes with pre-packaged items like popcorn or crackers and even things like cheese and yoghurt.    

Cook in bulk with a Sunday cook off 

Every Sunday we make Phoenix’s cookies for the week. It’s become his signature. We create this together and use them throughout the week for school. We’ve even printed recipe cards out and given them to all of his friends. 

Invest in good quality containers  

If you had to add up how much you’re spending on plastic zip lock bags over the course of a year, you’ll quickly realise that investing in reusable containers is a brilliant idea, and it’s so much better for the environment too!  

I use ClickClack containers which offer a fantastic and helpful range to help make school lunches easier to pack and manage. They’re not only chic and stylish, but they’re also handy and versatile. They’re BPA-free, airtight, easy to stack and easy to open.

Phoenix’s cookie recipe 

180g unsalted butter, softened 
3/4 cup (135g) brown sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 eggs 
2 cups (300g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted 
1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted 
150g dark chocolate, chopped 

Preheat oven to 180oC. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well. Add the flour and baking powder and beat until a smooth dough forms. Fold through the chocolate. Roll 1 tablespoon of the mixture into balls, place on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper and press to flatten. Bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on the trays. Makes 24.