Last week, Ayaan's school announced an outing-cum-picnic to a nearby deer park. This is pretty much the event of the year in the school calendar as far as he is concerned and to say that he was excited would be an understatement. He was also bursting with ideas for a 'special' lunchbox for the special day. He requested that he get a variety of snacks rather than his regular lunch, or as he put it 'a kind of snack buffet'.
I could see that some fantasies of junk food like chips and store-bought cookies were flitting around in his head. Now, I have cracked down on processed foods in a big way over the last couple of years and I wasn't about to go back on this. So while I agreed that his idea was good, we negotiated on the actual elements of this 'snack buffet'. After a quick brainstorming session, we arrived at a plan that we were both happy with.
- Baby carrots with sunflower sprouts (I get the sprouts bi-weekly from here)
- Fresh strawberries, cut and sprinkled with a wee bit of icing sugar
- Cookie jam sandwiches, with extra to share with friends (cookie recipe from here)
- Peanut butter mini-sandwich in sunflower seed bread (bread recipe from here)
- Sundal made with small chickpeas (from this recipe)
- Boiled egg wedges arranged around a cherry tomato to look like a flower
- Mixed nuts and dried fruit
He also wanted to carry a big bottle of home-made lemonade to share with his friends. He was keen to make this himself and was up at 6.30 a.m. and down in the kitchen to do the needful. This is the same boy that I have to drag out of bed kicking and screaming (or grumbling and groaning, depending on the mood of the moment) at 7 a.m!
The only real cooking that I had to do that morning was the boiled egg and the sundal. The bread and the cookies had been made earlier that week and all the other fruits and vegetables were foraged out of my refrigerator. Overall, I think I managed to meet his brief while still giving him a healthy, fresh and mostly homemade array of food. It was actually easier to assemble than his regular lunch and I am actively thinking about making this a fortnightly affair.