Big mistake in your kid’s lunch box
Every week Cheree Lawrence makes 20 school lunches.
Her eldest daughter is 16, meaning the Brisbane mother-of-four has been making school lunches five days a week for 11 years.
So it's safe to say the popular mum blogger knows a thing or two about how to get her kids to come home with an empty lunch box.
Ms Lawrence told news.com.au one of the biggest mistakes parents could make is giving their child the same sandwich every day.
"Sandwiches can become boring (if it's) the same Vegemite sandwich every day," she said.
Ms Lawrence, who blogs under the name Oh So Busy Mum and has more than 119,000 Facebook followers, says it's important that parents give their kids variety.
To help other mums out Ms Lawrence has shared her 10 best sandwich-free lunch box ideas on Facebook.
Her ideas include zucchini slice, mini pizzas made from English muffins, mini quiches and homemade sushi.
"It's not that I've had a problem with them eating sandwiches, but I wouldn't want to eat a sandwich every day with the same filling," she said, speaking in her role as a Woolworths ambassador.
"It's more about mixing up the lunch box and adding different variety of food, just to keep the lunch box interesting.
"There is more chance of the them eating the lunch box if there's different foods in there every day and it's not the same old foods packed."
As children have started their new school year, Ms Lawrence said the anxiety around nailing the school lunch is common.
Last month one mum was slammed for packing "too much" lunch for her teenage son, while another mum's rant about parents who give their children "perfect" lunches went viral.
Ms Lawrence runs the Facebook group Lunch box Ideas Australia, which has 100,000 members all looking to nail the school lunch - so she sees the anxiety first hand.
"I know by reading comments in the lunch box group and posts that there is a lot of pressure on parents to make creative lunches," she said.
"And making sure everything is healthy and they're packing enough food, or that they're not packing too much food and just keeping it interesting each day.
"I do think that there is a pressure there for parents to create the perfect lunch box."
To combat that pressure, Ms Lawrence recommended including your children in lunch box preparation.
"Involve the children in the process of packing their lunch box so you're including food that they'll want, because at the end of the day the children are the ones eating it," she said.
"Even involving them in the buying process - I always take them to Woolworths, they pick out what they want in the lunch box, so I think that does help. Knowing that they're happy with their lunch box and going to eat it is the most important thing."
HOW TO PACK A GREAT LUNCH
To make preparing lunches easier Ms Lawrence recommended investing in the right containers.
"The bento boxes are the in thing … they've got little containers, little sections, so you can add little bits of food in each section," she said.
"Most have around six sections in there, so it's a great way to offer a large variety but only put small amounts in there of each item."
To get an empty lunch box back at the end of the day, Ms Lawrence said a range of different foods were key.
"That's my biggest tip, just include a variety and you don't have to include a big amount of each food," she said.
"Just including small amounts of each food I find helps with the lunch boxes coming home empty."
Ms Lawrence also said parents should split lunch boxes into sections, making sure they contained:
• One sandwich or non-sandwich idea: "Like a protein item, the zucchini slice basically my kids want that every day, so I try and give them an item like that."
• Two serves of either fruit or vegetables.
• A dairy item, such as a cheese stick or yoghurt pouch.
• A snack, such as popcorn.