SingaporeMotherhood | Preschooler & Up

February 2020

What do Chefs and Foodie Parents put in their Child’s Lunchbox?

The school bag is packed, the uniform is ready. Now what to put in the lunchbox? You may even be thinking of packing two — one lunchbox for recess, and one for the 10-minute break in class. In addition, like Kelly Hill, you may have to pack according to your child’s morning appetite. “Since my son started primary school this year, his routine has changed. He struggles to stomach anything in the mornings. Hence I pack a proper ‘meal’ consisting of either rice, noodles, or pasta for recess. It will include fish or chicken, and a veg or fruit,” said the mum of a seven year old.

If your child stays back after school for CCA (Co-Curricular Activities), you may also be packing a lunchbox for them due to various reasons: lack of variety in canteen food, too-long queues, and so on.

“I try to make sure my son gets a balanced diet. It’s tricky as they don’t have a lot of time to eat. So everything has to be in sensible portions. We sit down to discuss what he would like to have for recess and snack in the coming week. I like to get him involved so he gets to make some choices of his own,” shared Kelly.

We asked Kelly and other people who know about food — chefs and foodie parents — what they put into their kids’ lunchboxes. We love these ideas for a child’s (or even our own) lunchbox; they sound utterly delicious!

Happy colours, happy food

“For recess or lunches, I pack my daughter Alexis’ favourite, able-to-keep foods like sandwiches, pasta bolognaise, pasta with pesto, a bun, or piece of cake. For small snacks, I pack a banana (which is easy and energy giving), other types of fruit, a muesli bar, or my daughter’s favourite — a box of cherry tomatoes. When she has sports training, I pack bananas and Milo in her lunchbox. I usually prepare the food in the morning.” — Helen Chia-Thomas, whose daughter, Alexis, turns 11 this year

A nutritious favourite

Photo: Refinery Concepts

“I usually prepare a ham and cheese sandwich in my daughter’s lunchbox. This is accompanied by cherry tomatoes and some fruits, making it a nutritious recess break snack. It’s one of her favourite foods, it takes only 15 minutes to prepare, and is not too messy to eat. I store the sandwich in a Tupperware lunchbox. This helps to keep the food fresh.” — Chef Isaac Tan, Executive Chef of Refinery Concepts, who has a 14-year-old daughter

Nuts about nuts

Photo: Meyer Yang

“My son Ewan is in primary two this year. I usually pack Nature’s Wonders nuts, and peanut butter sandwiches or nutty yoghurt bars in my his school lunchbox. My wife and I believe nuts are natural power packs of nutrients that can help Ewan grow, develop and learn. Also, our son loves his nuts!” — Meyer Yang, 39, who packs his son’s lunchbox and makes his breakfast every morning

Fresh, no-fuss meals

Photo: Fat Belly

“We put in organic vegetables such as broccoli and carrot sticks, as well as steamed chicken or beef/lamb seared in butter. As my son Tommy is only two years old, we prefer to expose him to minimal salt and sugar. Hence his food is seasoned only with herbs or sesame oil. We only pack what he loves to eat, so that he is willing to feed himself, and finish his meal without fuss. This is very important when we are in a restaurant and want to avoid creating a scene! Being in the food and beverage industry has made us aware of the importance of investing in fresh, quality and seasonal produce. So by packing Tommy’s lunchbox, we know he is getting what is best for him.” — Andryl and Stanley Seow, owners of Fat Belly

Daily wholesome lunches

Photo: Ryan’s Grocery

“My 12-year-old son, Ryan, is intolerant to gluten, dairy, egg, nuts, soy and yeast. Because of this I take great care in preparing a wholesome and nutritious lunchbox for him every day. I have to keep in mind his dietary restrictions. Some items I prepare for him include homemade chicken nuggets, fresh fruits like grapes, figs and cherry tomatoes, and gluten-free mini banana pancakes. I also include ready-to-consume products like Orasi rice milk and Faba Beans from Human Beans. These can be found at our specialty grocery store, Ryan’s Grocery.” — Wendy Foo, Founder and Director of Marketing and Procurement, Alternative Selection, at Ryan’s Grocery

(See also: Control your Child’s Food Allergy with this Treatment)

Easily-whipped-up soup

Photo: 1-Group

“I usually prepare macaroni soup for my three-year-old daughter, Faith. Macaroni is not too heavy a meal, and yet is suitably filling. The plain flavour of macaroni allows me to use light seasoning and healthy ingredients in her soup. Hence she can enjoy a tasty and healthy meal. I cut the ingredients into very small pieces so that the flavours in her soup are stronger. The best part about macaroni soup is how easy and quick it is to prepare. I can whip it up before she leaves home so that her meal is fresh when she is ready to eat. Although I head an award-winning restaurant, my daughter appreciates simple meals that bring out the warmth and comfort of a home. It’s a win-win situation for me.” — Felix Chong Executive Sous Chef at 1-Group. Felix is also one of the two chefs at Monti at 1-Pavilion

Healthy Snack Boxes

Photo: Grand Hyatt Singapore

“We don’t pack a lunchbox for our two-year-old son as the kindergarten he attends provides daily meals for the students. However, my wife and I do prepare snack boxes to take with us whenever we have a family day. Our son’s snack box will contain the following: broccoli, baby carrots, fresh fruits such as apple and pears, seaweed, and brussels sprouts. We choose these items because he enjoys crunchy vegetables. Furthermore, they are also healthy.” — Steffan Heerdt, Executive Sous Chef at Grand Hyatt Singapore

Afternoon snacks

Photo: Botany Singapore

“My son Alexander is in the afternoon session in primary school. We pack snacks such as homemade banana cake, organic homemade protein bars, and fruits for his recess in the afternoon. I try to make sure he gets the nutrients or vitamins from the food he eats, hence we are quite particular even on the choice of snacks. We usually pack the lunchbox before he goes to school. I chose a BPA-free lunchbox which is light and rectangular so that it fits nicely into Alexander’s bag.” — Cassandra Riene, co-founder/managing director, Botany Singapore

(See also: 20 Brain Foods all Kids need)

A two-course special

Photo: The St. Regis Singapore

“A typical everyday lunchbox for my six year old daughter would contain a well-balanced meal with a main and an accompanying sweet. This ensures that her growing body absorbs all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients she needs to promote healthy growth. Her lunchbox could have a mixed salad of grilled chicken breast, green leaves, tomatoes, celery, carrots, cucumber, lightly seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and a dash of lemon juice. Or it could have teriyaki salmon with steamed rice, fusilli pasta with tomato sauce and sautéed vegetables, or oven-roasted chicken leg with roasted baby potatoes. I complete the lunchbox with a sweet treat to provide her the extra energy to get through the afternoon. This could be a fruit salad, a banana, a muffin, a packet of Oreos, or a slice of home-baked confectionery like Nutella tart, chiffon cake, or apricot jam tart.” — Fabio Granata, Executive Sous Chef of The St. Regis Singapore

Everything homemade & healthy

Photo: Kelly Hill

I pre-cook and freeze chicken stews in lunchbox quantities and warm them up to go on top of udon noodles or rice once a week. The stews contain veggies so I just add a cooked egg on top. Some days, I prepare pasta, toss it with a homemade spinach pesto, four cheeses, or homemade red peppers and garlic tomato mince sauce, and throw on some broccoli. He also enjoys sushi rolls (without raw fish). I wrap these at home with homemade tamago, tuna and corn mayo and cucumber. Another big favourite are my homemade Japanese Chives Gyoza (dumplings). I put five to six of these in his lunch box together with a cucumber salad, and he’s happy! I try to prepare as much as I can the night before, and do the heating up or cooking in the morning before he wakes.

My son also gets a 10-minute break in school. For this I pack a separate lunchbox with fruit (grapes, mandarin oranges, apple slices or berries). This is accompanied by dry cheese biscuits, lightly-salted pretzels, and nuts. On Fridays, I sneak in a treat. This could be a bite-sized dark chocolate bar or homemade fig, coconut, and dark chocolate energy balls. — Kelly Hill, whose son turns seven in March

(See also: Get your Fussy Eater to Eat Better!)

Header image: IKEA 365+ Lunch Box with inserts

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What do Chefs and Foodie Parents put in their Child’s Lunchbox?