Thursday, 1 September 2011

Disney and Annabel Karmel’s Top Tips for the Ultimate Packed Lunch

Disney recently teamed up with bestselling children’s food author Annabel Karmel, to create the Ultimate Packed Lunch for children heading back to school in September.

I missed this lovely day out but wanted to share some of the useful tips for creating that lunchbox feast that ensures children come home with full tummies and an empty box.

An event in central London included a roundtable discussion with mums of ways to make packed lunches interesting, fun and healthy for children, followed by a cookery workshop where Annabel created two tasty savoury wraps and Mickey Mouse-shaped carrot, apple and sultana muffins.

Patricia Turner, director of product development for Food, Health and Beauty, The Walt Disney Company, Europe commented: “The Ultimate Packed Lunch is all about variety, nutrition and helping to ensure the food you give your children to take to school is appealing to them as well as being good for them. We hope our top tips will provide parents with some practical and fun ideas as the new term approaches.”

Annabel Karmel added: “There are plenty of tips and tricks parents can use to make their children’s packed lunch much more interesting and fun while still being nutritious. Kids want maximum time in the playground so they want a lunchbox which is easy to eat, as well as tasting great and looking good.”

Disney and Annabel Karmel’s Ultimate Packed Lunch Top Tips

  • Tip 1) Most children will leave food that takes a lot of effort to eat - They want a quick re-fuelling stop. For example, give clementines already peeled and cover with plastic wrap or cut kiwi fruit in half and let them scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon. Children are also often nervous of new types of food that have unusual textures so be mindful of the shape and colour of certain foods. Strong flavours are however very popular so why not experiment with Omega 3 rich smoked salmon rolled up on toothpicks or hummus with carrot sticks?

  • Tip 2) However healthy food is, it won’t get eaten unless it’s tasty and appealing to your child – Simple touches can make all the difference like cutting sandwiches into character shapes using cookie cutters (try some Disney favourites like Mickey Mouse!) or threading fruit onto a straw to make a fresh fruit skewer. Try getting them involved at home so they begin to learn more about a variety food, how it affects their body as well as how it is made and how it is cooked.

  • Tip 3) Sandwiches don’t need to be boring - There are so many different types of carbohydrate available. Try giving pitta pockets with tuna, sweetcorn and a touch of mayonnaise, tortilla wraps with cooked chicken, avocado, shredded lettuce and tomato, mini baguettes with ham and cheese or pita pockets with tuna salad. To prevent sandwiches getting squashed, store them in a small plastic container in your child’s lunchbox and make fillings the night before to save time.

  • Tip 4) There are other carbs that make a welcome change from sandwiches - Try a pasta salad and mix in some cherry tomatoes and spring onion - this can be made the night before. Children are naturally curious, so sharing food as a family at dinner will introduce them to new food and flavours, which can also then be used in their lunchbox the next day like Spanish omelette or marinated chicken drumsticks.

  • Tip 5) Give pure fruit juice or water - Some juice drinks contain very little juice but a lot of sugar so look at the label before buying. Pure fruit juices contains 100% juice but a fruit juice drink can contain as little as 5% juice – check the ingredients before buying. Fresh fruit smoothies, fruity milkshakes and probiotic mini yoghurt drinks are good too.

  • Tip 6) It’s important to include fresh fruit in your child’s lunchbox – Children like to hold wedges of fruit and you can cut up pieces of mango, melon, papaya and pineapple and pack them in a plastic container.

  • Tip 7) Many children like raw vegetables - Try sticks of carrot, sweet pepper or cucumber. Wrap these in dampened kitchen paper to prevent them drying out and maybe include a tasty dip like cream cheese and chive or hummus. Consider that some children may only eat cooked vegetables because they prefer the texture and these can be prepared the night before or cook extra from their evening meal.

  • Tip 8) Plan ahead - It’s a good idea to make a five day plan and buy a whole collection of foods that you can pop in your child’s lunchbox like mini cheeses, pitta bread with hummus, cherry tomatoes, mini carrots, probiotic yogurt drinks, mini packets of dried fruit and you can bag them up and label them Monday to Friday.

  • Tip 9) Keeping the lunchbox fresh - Once your child’s lunchbox leaves your hands it may be several hours before your child opens it. During that time it may not be stored at an ideal temperature. It’s a good idea to pop a small ice pack in, or freeze the carton of juice you put in overnight and it should have thawed by lunchtime. It’s worth buying a selection of small plastic containers that will easily fit in your child’s lunchbox so that food doesn’t get squashed.

  • Tip 10) Get them more familiar with the food they eat – Take your children with you to the supermarket so they can read the labels of the food they prefer and compare these to the types of food that are more nutrition rich. You might be surprised by what they find! Why not get them to write their own shopping list too and get them to use this to make up their own packed lunches? Getting children engaged with food will help with broadening their taste pallet and understand how easy it is to make healthier food choices.

Children can carry their Ultimate Packed Lunch in style with Disney’s range of lunch bags, boxes, flasks and backpacks. Popular characters such as Minnie Mouse, Disney Fairies, Phineas & Ferb and the Cars 2 gang adorn the products to add even more fun to lunchtime!

 For more children’s recipe ideas, please visit

1 comment:

  1. Some good ideas! I would have been so excited to get a fruit skewer in my lunchbox when I was little!! :)