Step 2: Weekly Plan for Lunchboxes

As this week screeches to a close, my head is already rolling forward to the next. It always helps to have a sketch of what the lunchboxes would look like and for me sometimes it helps to think geographically as this give me themes to play with. I know there are many cuisines of the world to think of, but I try to stick to the ones most familiar (and the ingredients are readily available,) such as:

  • Middle Eastern,
  • Western – Swedish, Greek, Italian, American, British, Tex-Mex
  • South East Asian – Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indonesian
  • Asian – Chinese, Korean, Indian

The countries I think of would also give me clues to what items to buy for the week – beef for mincing, chicken (whole for roasting, fillet or whole legs,) fish, prawns for protein, as well as herbs such as coriander, Thai basil, Italian basil, mint. The rest depends on the things that I can find in the market e.g. avocado, berries, spinach – whatever is fresh, in season and perhaps on sale.  Sometimes there are great bargains on certain types of foodstuff, I would usually get the item and find recipes to try out, (this was how I embarked on the Vietnamese rice roll adventure).

For each of the theme, it can further be divided as:

  • protein
  • veggies and/or fruits – salad or soup
  • carbs

If 2 items are mixed (e.g. mini pizzas – carbs+protein) that gives me an extra item to play around with (and that usually means additional veggie and/or fruit item.) Due to the limitations of the Thermos lunch tiffin that my son has, I try to keep his lunch item to 3 most days. However, on Thursday (swimming day,) I usually add another tupperware of baked goods or fruit based item as post-swim snack and for him and his friends.

Sounds complicated? Actually it helps not to be too stubborn 100% with the plan. Have a plan but be prepared to be flexible and allow for some changes to the menu based on the freshness, availability of produce and any special savers, deals that may be available at the market.

The lunchbox menu is then incorporated as part of my weekly and monthly household menu which is cross-referenced to the weekly shopping list. Below is a sample print screen of my household menu in 2010 – the reason the menu is in malay is because we then had a helper at home who did not speak English. I have translated some into English to provide the general idea of the format for the menu plan:

Sample Menu

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About mumstech
Retired at 40 after working in various industries including banking and financial services, oil and gas as well as higher education.Now a stay-at-home mum, cheerleader for husband and son, cleaner, nutritionist, cook, laundry lady, driver, clerk cum administration assistant, public relations, personal assistant... I never knew that squeaky clean floors can give me such satisfaction!

One Response to Step 2: Weekly Plan for Lunchboxes

  1. Pingback: Planning school lunchboxes: First step « mumstech

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