Sunday, November 24, 2013

healthy lunch box

Safcol Tuna in springwater, whole egg mayonnaise, english spinach, seasonal fruit and homemade chocolate and nut biscuits.

Free range chicken, whole egg (cage free) mayonnaise, english spinach in a Mountain bread wrap, seasonal fruit salad and wholemeal crackers (no preservatives) cream cheese and sultanas (sulphur free).

Preservative free ham, cheese and english spinach on wholemeal; apple and grapes; homemade simple muffin with butter.

The first year of Kindy is almost over and I thought it would be a good time to reflect on Max's lunch box. When Max started school I had an almost 2 month old baby so I wanted to make sure I could still put together a healthy lunchbox that was preservative free, easy to make, free of wasteful packaging and delicious enough that he would eat it all.

I bought a special lunch box from here to mark his milestone of going to school like a big boy. It's free of nasty chemicals, has compartments to divide food in to and comes with sheets of "cool" alaphabet and picture stickers for your child to put on the lid. There is no need for clingwrap so this solved the packaging issue.

Max is an energetic child and a big eater and loves all kinds of food so most of the time his lunchbox was empty at school pick-up or he would finish leftovers in the car. More often than not I would have to bring him a snack because he would be "starving" straight after school.

Keeping it real: There were a few things I compromised on, such as buying washed mixed lettuce and sliced cheese (no preservatives). Prior to Archie I would never even think of such conveniences or the added expense and would wash all my lettuces and cut my own cheese. I am not a moring person and with a new baby I had a lot more to do in the morning. This was a convenience I was willing to pay for to make those rushed early mornings a little easier and still prepare a healthy lunch with variety.

Our school has a Nut Free Policy so I had to stop making sweets with nuts. I was use to baking with almonds, pecans and walnuts. Nuts are so good for dry skin amongst other benefits and add an interesting texture and flavour. I believe children adapt a sophiscated palate if they are given real foods from the start. Real food can taste good and be fun. I believe food marketed at children are often inferior products and my child is not inferior and neither is yours. (Not a dig at mamas but at the food companies!) Okay, getting back to the nuts, instead I would make blueberry and carrot muffins.

I envisioned getting back to bread making and cooking big pieces of meat for lunches but often I manage to select the best pre-made food and combine it with what I made at home. I'm proud of what I have accomplished this year and proud of my son's compliments and gratefulness.

More realness: There were many times I had to put a lunch order in through out the year and one time every day for a whole week! Thankfully, there are some decent options and the lovely canteen lady makes fresh batches of anzac biscuits daily. I don't believe in denying my son sweets as he eats a wide variety of foods and I don't have to manipulate him to eat his dinner. He just eats dinner because I taught him that dinner is a part of life and it is a good thing, a happy thing to enjoy. Although, he's still a child and occasionally tries his luck for ice cream at breakfast.

Next year I will make cold snacks for the warmer months, such as fruit yoghurts with these. In winter I would like to send him to school with hot soup in a thermos. In this country, there is no such thing as an indoor cafeteria area. In a snow region it would be very useful to our school but instead the children eat at their desks in winter on really bad weather days; otherwise they eat cold meals outside on cold concrete! 

Warm food is very beneficial and nourishing to the body especially that time of year when cold and flu's are prevalent. Once again I would take advantage of ordering my son a hot lunch from the canteen. But many times I would "homeschool" him when he had the sniffles...

Warm nourishing pumpkin soup. Winter, June 13

 Learning to read Waddle Giggle Gargle by Pamela Allen and hand drawn illustration of the book cover. Making wrapping paper by painting nature stencils. Summer, Nov 13

Thank you for staying tuned in to a very long tale. I really appreciate it! Please tell me about your children's lunch boxes and does your child's school have an indoor cafeteria?

Friday, November 15, 2013

the cost of food

Raised garden beds repurposed from the box that carried our communities UV water filter.

Possum and kangaroo proofing the garden.

Our garden now. Our garden in winter.

Why is there always an abundance of garlic in our supermarkets from overseas when garlic is so easy to grow here. Local variety in taste and smell is so much more pungent and delicious. Photo taken November 2012.

The truth is, I spend a lot of money on food. I shop a few times a week and never add up the receipts for fear of the truth. I convince myself because I hardly buy any packaged food and avoid artificial additives and preservatives that somehow it is cheaper but it is definitely not! I buy organic often and wherever I can get it. Where we live there is only a relatively small supermarket so I supplement my shopping with a Healthfood store in the next town and for a long time I was able to pick up an organic box that was delivered in to my town.

We are a 'live to eat' kind of family and we increasingly get dissatisfied with the taste of meat and produce including packaging that accompanies food with shopping at supermarkets but unfortunately don't have that much choice at the moment. I do my best with what is available at the time and reassess how much money I have left in my fortnightly budget.

I don't save! I'm not even quite sure what 'balancing a budget' really entails. I am however a proud homemaker. I've raised a beautiful, creative and confident son who is very kind and caring. I am busy raising another beautiful son. There are new traditions I am creating for our family that will hopefully be passed on.

But there is so much more I could be doing in the home to make a difference. We are renters. The wellness and longevity of a family involves long term planning, strategic thinking and budgeting just like a corporate business. These are important areas I need to invest mindful time and energy in to, especially the latter.

Our garden is very challenging. What we thought was now finally animal proof is feral rabbit friendly. And lets not talk about the reappearing frost and ferocious winds! We need to learn how to grow sufficient food in these conditions.

I am grateful to have found Rhonda who continually reminds and inspires 'us simple lifers' on our true path to contentment through the home and to be part of this sharing and supportive community.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

beginner quilter

Quilting a mat

Quilting a sewing machine cover

After longing to make beautiful quilts for five years but finding it all too overwhelming, I am incredibly determined after the birth of my second child this year. We are definitely not having any more children and I knew this was my last chance to learn the art of quilting and make beautiful blankets for the family before I have to go back to work. Armed with a very good beginners book I was still clueless on how to make a quilt! Even after asking (silly) questions kindly answered by the talented ladies in the craft section of our local hardware store. That is, until I found this simple tutorial on how to sew a quilted mat and and how to sew a quilted sewing machine cover tutorial. If you have never quilted before, I highly recommend both of these tutorials as a very good starting point. You don't need a sewing stash or even know how to cut squares, just purchase one charm pack and you have enough fabric to make both projects. Before you know it, you'll be taking those photos where you proudly hold up your beautiful quilted blanket spread across your body with only your head, arms and legs poking out. I can't wait to do that.