A little creativity goes a long way in lunch box venture
For most people this is the week in which they're still shaking off their holiday haze.
The familiar patterns of morning traffic on your work commute still pain you and if you have little ones, the task of preparing lunch is one to look forward to.
Here are a few ideas to help keep up with lunchbox demands:
There's nothing simpler than a peanut butter sandwich. But it can get boring, so add a bit of excitement.
Adding a squeeze of honey and thin slices of apple to the sandwich can bring new life. The apple can likewise be swapped with thin slices of pear and a sprinkling of raisins. Add a banana to the mix and, for the younger kids, making animal peanut butter sandwiches adds an element of fun.
Three slices of banana and a few blueberries will turn a sarmie into a bear face. Place one banana slice on each top corner of the bread with peanut butter already smeared on. The third slice should be placed in the middle with the slices forming a triangle. Place a blueberry on the center slice to create a nose and place one blueberry each between the corner slices and the middle slice creating eyes. And voila!
Let's be honest though, while meal prep has been all the rage these past few years, a few of us have been living that reality for most of our lives.
For the busy parent, meal prep is a life- and timesaver. So it's natural that lunch can also fall into this category. The trick is in remembering that the food being prepared should keep for a few days without turning soggy or being inedible.
Outsource the lunch
For some parents, making lunch and catering to hectic schedules can prove impossible. Luckily there's a young businesswoman who has stepped in to ensure that busy parents don't have to worry and children can enjoy healthy lunches.
Thirty-one-year-old Busisiwe Ndlovu makes lunch for a living and she delivers.
Her business, Amour Kids Meals, was started when she began making lunch packs for her sister's children. Her neighbours then enquired about the meals and it spread via word of mouth.
"I started last year June[ish], so it hasn't been that long; it's getting really busy now that schools are opening... I'm going to be very busy from Wednesday," she says.
Business is certainly looking up for the Kempton Park-based entrepreneur, who has 81 clients so far.
Her lunch packs are delivered daily and her mother helps with deliveries in the south of Johannesburg, her sister to the north and she caters for the east.
She says she's on the road from 4am in the morning doing deliveries and some of her regular clients ask her to deliver lunch at their child's school. The lunch service costs R300 a month - but R350 for those who live in the north.
She has a set menu per term, although the children do not eat the same thing every day. If Tuesday is a fish day, the children will have fish fingers on the first Tuesday and on the next one will have a tuna sandwich.
"In a month, even though they do get fish, it's not the same kind of fish. I always try to jazz it up for them like that.
"And in terms of fruit, it's a different fruit every day. and sometimes during the week they'll get a fruit salad."
The menu is e-mailed at the beginning of each term. The lunch is packaged in a brown paper bag which, for the child, eliminates the responsibility of carrying a lunchbox.
Though she has a set menu, she consults the parents on the child's allergies and food preferences. "I give them a form when they sign up and they tell me what the child is allergic to.
"I take a chart every time I package in the morning to ensure that I exclude [allergens] from the [kid's] menu."
Ndlovu grew up watching her mother work in her catering business and she'd help out sometimes. Although in possession of a tourism management diploma from the University of Johannesburg, Ndlovu does not have a culinary qualification.
"I ran like a little canteen in the east rand, but then I always had this [idea] for this business, but I kept postponing," she says.
"When it came to my menu, I have a friend who is a dietician and I sat down with her after I compiled my menu and asked her what else I should add, from her professional perspective, and she was happy with what I had."
Thembi, a client of Ndlovu's, says her daughter loves the lunches. She's happy with the service and has never heard anything negative from other parents.
"The parents have the same problem of struggling to keep their lunch fun.
"A lot of kids come back with their lunches not eaten from school, so this saves a lot of problems," Thembi says.