The Tartan lunch boxes have been a bit of a haphazard affair so far this term. I was still waiting for summer to start – the end of the summer holidays came as a shock. I have cobbled together a freezer full of pre-made lunches but they are a bit… repetitive. There’s a limit to the number of variations on a ham sandwich we can eat in a week. Time for a new packed lunch plan…
A recipe for Cheese Scones is available here and you can find Leek And Lentil Soup here. Make a potful and have it with your main meal on another day to get double value out of your cooking time. No baking is required for the Apple Crumble – chop up dessert apples, add a spoonful or two of water, and a shake of cinnamon before stewing slowly over a low heat. When the resulting puree has cooled pour it into ice-cube trays and freeze. When it is time to transform your cubes of frozen apple puree, pop a few cubes into a lidded container, top with low-sugar ready-made custard and sprinkle a handful of granola over the top – instant apple crumble! A portion of fruit and a dollop of calcium-rich custard with marginally less fat and sugar and more dietary fibre than a regular crumble. Lunchtastic!
Mini calzones are an excuse to provide a little bready parcel of veg and a calcium-rich portion of cheese. It’s health food through the medium of pizza – especially if you make the dough with half-and-half white and wholemeal flour for added fibre. Click here for a how-to and add the veg of your very own picky eater’s choice. (Mushrooms and olives here in Tartan Towers, but not for the same people. And yes, that is an unhealthy level of pandering.) Picnic eggs are widely available but if you want to have a go at making their big brother, the Scotch Egg, try this recipe.
Smoked mackerel dip gives you and yours a healthy serving of omega 3 oils at an even healthier price. Use plain smoked fillets or your choice of flavoured fillet – personally I don’t think you can beat simple peppered fillets. Throw them in a food processor with some cream cheese and a little natural yoghurt. (The yoghurt is optional – it makes a slightly dippier dip, and adds a gentle tanginess. If you want tang-free pate instead of tangy dip, leave it out.) Process until smooth. That’s it – spoon it into small containers and freeze. Defrost overnight and give it a quick stir in the morning if it has separated slightly. Add some bought or home-made bread sticks and you are good to go. Home-made bread sticks freeze nicely, by the way.
Cranachan is what you do if you live in a Scottish croft, it’s summer, your cow’s milk is at it’s creamiest, the bees are a-buzzing and there are wild raspberries all around. It is a sort-of-trifle made with whipped cream, toasted oatmeal, fresh raspberries, whisky and honey. So simple, so cheap, so sweetly, creamily delicious. Great for a treat, but a bit too sweet, high fat and alcoholic for a kid’s lunch box. So instead fold a little honey, toasted oatmeal and frozen raspberries into greek yoghurt. Sadly it doesn’t freeze but it is quick to stir together and toasted oatmeal lasts weeks in a jar. Spread oatmeal on the base of a dry frying pan over a low heat. Give it a little shake every ten seconds or so until it gives off a lovely, nutty smell. Watch it like a hawk – it will burn if you give it the chance. Frozen raspberries can be folded in straight from the freezer. Their deep red juices will ripple through the finished cranachan as they thaw.
Click here for my cheese and ham muffin recipe. Ideally, make the chicken and cannellini bean salad with leftover bits of chicken, stashed in the freezer after roasting a bird. No handy chicken carcass to pick over? Buy chicken breasts and griddle them before cutting them into small chunks. Or you can buy ready-cooked chunks of chicken – much more expensive than home-made but still cheaper than buying ready-made sandwiches. Simply drain a tin of cannellini beans and toss with the chicken, some leaves from a windowsill pot of herbs and some dressing. The dressing is up to you – a squirt of mayo, a bought dressing or the cheapest option – vinegar, seasoning and oil shaken up in a jar.
This lunch cannot be frozen, alas, but is quick to make and, if you make double it will also fill baked potatoes for your dinner. Two birds, one stone. Or two fish, one hook? Anyway. Open a tin of pink salmon and mash it with a fork and a spoonful of mayonnaise. Fold in a drained tin of sweetcorn. Aside from a portion of protein and omega 3 oils, the tinned salmon is a rich calcium source because of all the bones that are softened to edibleness by the canning process. Dollop it into the middle of your wraps and fold or roll them up. The fizzy juice is simply an own-brand diluting juice (our personal favourite is Aldi’s Orange Squash if you are interested) diluted with fizzy water.
Here’s the thing about buying water. Sparkling water – sometimes sold as “sparkling table water” is, quite simply, tap water that has been carbonated – no spurious claims to originate in a highland spring. Just fizz, costing pennies not pounds. If all you want is a glass of water, it is a waste of your money, because you already have water on tap. But if what you want is fizzy juice, it is a very cheap way to transform squash into pop. Tartan Boy loves it and at well under 10p for 300ml of fizzy juice it is a very affordable treat. Fill bottles in the morning – the water will have gone flat by lunch time if you fill them the night before.