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Jax Hamilton: Colour-coded lunches

Jax Hamilton
NICOLE GOURLEY
MASTERCHEF MUM: Jax Hamilton got creative when it came to school lunches.

I don't know about you, but back in the day, when Christmas was behind us and the January holiday's diminished into the back-to-school prep in February, I used to get a little anxious because on the horizon was the horror of the 'uneaten lunchbox'.  Now my boys have never been fussy eaters. 

Around the dinner table I could generally get them to eat most things whether new dishes, odd smelling veges or spicy sauces. But when it came to popping things into their lunchboxes - I just couldn't win.

This is a true story.  I was cleaning up one of my son's bedroom one day, opened his wardrobe and found the floor swimming with maggots. I eventually discovered his lunchbox was a gated community of them all happily living off his old lunches. I was not amused to say the least!!

So I came up with a bit of a game - a little 'lunchbox psychology!' Both boys being very competitive, I had to devise something where we all won and the answer was colour coded lunchboxes.

Well, this is what I did, initially it took a bit of work, but after about two weeks, the boys were so into it they not only managed their lunchboxes themselves, but also ran home at the end of the day to compare notes: what was eaten, what wasn't (they would also spy on each other in the playground to make sure nothing was thrown or given away (oh snap!). Their lunchboxes were then always empty, clean and they would repack for the next day - whilst I read my Martina Cole books and put my feet up.

At the end of the week, if they had managed to keep to the bargain being: prepare your own healthy lunchbox everyday, eat everything, keep your box clean and tidy. Then on Friday they were able to fill their boxes with whatever treats (to a certain degree) they wanted!

So here's the key - colour coded lunch boxes.

Firstly divide the days of the week into four different colours (any colours you like) with Friday being 'Rainbow Day' if they have succeeded or 'Black Day' parent's choice.  The child who has managed the most Rainbow Day's in the month gets a big treat.

Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday - Rainbow Day.

These can then be represented by the food within, sticking to the main deciders for a healthy box : Carbs, Protein, Fruit (or veg), Dairy, Drink and a Jax Snax.

The knack is being prepared at the beginning of the week, making volume to save on the pennies and making it last the week. Allowing your child(ren) to be part of the process so they understand what food is for lunch and what is not.

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Some examples:

Red: Sandwich with a couple of slices of ham or silverside, apples OR grapes OR cherry tomatoes or cherries, drink, mousse, cupcake with red icing or raspberry muffin

Yellow: Cheesy pasta salad, bananas, pineapple, kiwi fruit (golden) yoghurt, drink, packet of chips

Green: Dip or Pesto, cubes of cheese, cucumber diced, yoghurt, drink, colourful jelly

Orange: Crackers and cheese, chopped carrot (segmented) or tangelo, yoghurt drink, couple of lollies.

Friday: Children's choice (as long as they have eaten their lunch all week) OR black day, parent's healthy choice.

OR

Friday: Parents choice

Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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