The Ultimate Packed Lunch: A Morning with Annabel Karmel | Modern Mummy

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Ultimate Packed Lunch: A Morning with Annabel Karmel

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Cucina Caldesi in Marylebone to spend the morning with the one and only Annabel Karmel. (I can't deny it, I have a mega girl crush on her, the woman is A M A Z I N G).

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last twenty years, Annabel Karmel is the leading author of books on nutrition for babies, children and families, and more recently she has released her own branded meals and snacks. She has a fantastic website which I visit regularly and I also have a number of her recipe books, which were a godsend whilst weaning Daisy and I still use them today.

The purpose of the morning's Cookery School (which was attended by fourteen journalists and bloggers, as well as representatives from Disney, with whom Annabel has joined forces to produce a range of healthy snacks) was for a round table discussion on The Ultimate Packed Lunch and then to whip up a few recipes from Annabel's latest book, Top 100 Meals in Minutes.

So, what does make the perfect packed lunch? With the new school term just days away, here are my top tips for encouraging your kiddiewinks to eat and enjoy the contents of their lunchboxes.

A perfect lunch should be a combination of healthy, tasty and easy to eat fresh food. How about swapping boring old sandwiches for wraps, pitta pockets or little pizzas? Dinner leftovers like pasta salad and chicken drumsticks are great too. Put lettuce leaves inbetween bread and sandwich fillings to prevent sogginess and use a cookie cutter to shape sandwiches and make them more interesting.

Prepare fruit and vegetable crudites. Peel and chop fruit into bite sized chunks. Kids want to be out in the playground, not struggling to peel a satsuma! Wrap carrot, celery and cucumber sticks in damp kitchen towel to stop them drying out and include a hummous or cheese and chive dipping pot. Ready (and easy) to eat food is more likely to get eaten!

Freeze cartons of juice so that it helps to keep the contents of the lunchbox cool and fresh. A slushy, cold drink is great in Summer too.

Lunchtime at school is the perfect time to persuade fussy eaters to try new things. It is a social occasion when children all get together and they notice what others are eating. Kids will often develop a bit of lunchbox envy and you can use this to your advantage! One idea is to communicate with other parents on what your children's lunchboxes will contain so that they all eat the same. You could even take this a step further and get together with a few other parents and create a lunchbox rota where the same parent makes lunch for three or four kids at the same time. This means they get to try new things and you get a few days off of lunchbox duty! Another idea is to put extras of certain things into your child's packed lunch so that they can share them with their friends.

Personalise lunchboxes - especially for younger children. Lunchboxes are, effectively, a reminder of home. Put little notes in, add stickers and draw smiley faces on fruit.

Organisation is the key when it comes to fuss free, easy lunchboxes. Plan ahead, use up leftovers and involve the kids - take them shopping for food and get them to help you make things. You are more likely to have an empty lunch box returned to you at the end of the day if your child has chosen their sandwich fillings and fruit or if it contained a home made muffin that he or she baked him/herself.

And whilst on the subject of muffins, that was exactly what we baked with Annabel. Carrot, apple and sultana ones to be precise. The recipe is in her book, Top 100 Meals in Minutes, which is published by Ebury Press and available on Amazon here.

Thanks to Annabel's team and Disney for organising such a fun morning. We were sent home with Disney lunchboxes packed full of stationary for school and Annabel Karmel snacks, plus the fruits of our labour which were absolutely delicious. Daisy was made up with her new Minnie Mouse goodies!

Enjoy the last few days of the summer holidays everyone. Not long now til the kids are back at school and normality resumes! xoxox


  1. This is just an overall comment to say I love the site...Loads of really interesting posts, written in a nice informal way.... and super use of instagram/hipstamatic/etc photos! And big congrats on the LBP award! NIce one.

  2. Thank you so much! Glad you like it xxxx


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