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Lunchbox Hacks: Savvy Strategies to Supercharge Savings on Snacks!

Feature Articles Thursday, 13 July 2023


Prepare to level up your lunchbox game with Susie's latest and greatest Lunchbox Ideas!

Article by Susie Holmes

I understand that we are all stretched for time these days and popping packs of store brought goodies into the lunch boxes, fruit straps, bags of popcorn etc. is quick and convenient, but taking the time to prepare your own little snack pots of deliciousness can save you lots of money! In some cases, more than half and we all know every dollar helps these days.

I have noticed at the supermarket that a lot of my food staples have almost doubled in price to what they were 12 months ago. Milk, eggs and cheese especially, is ridiculously expensive!

I was doing some comparisons on the Woolworths website and as a result came up with a couple of examples for you such as Mainland On the Go 50g sliced cheese and crackers at $3.00 equates to $60.00 per 1kg or upgrade to the Cheese and Lavosh Crackers 36g (even less weight) at $3.00 comes in at a super expensive $83.33 per 1kg!! There must be gold in those crackers!

Buying a 1 kg block of Woolworths Tasty cheese and slicing it yourself works out to $14.00 per kg- so that is a massive difference, just grab a box of your favourite bickies and for a few minutes work, you are well on your way to saving your hard-earned money.

Filling your own Yoghurt tubs is another cost winner as your standard 110g Greek Yoghurt flavoured pouches $2.18/100g compared with purchasing a 600g tub and filling your own pots - takes the cost down to $0.92/100g.

Popping your popcorn kernels yourself, is another interesting one. Buy some sturdy paper muffin cases such as the ones below, and fill them with fresh popcorn - it is not only fun for the kids but looks lovely and colourful.

Katoomba Popcorn kernels comes in as low as 0.33/100g compared to Cobs 5 x pack of sea-salt popcorn coming in at $6.15 per 100g!

A few weeks ago, in my after-school cooking club, we made Sushi.  Now I had as much fun as the kids with this – because as much as I love eating it, I had never attempted to make it before.  Ours were slightly on the plump side but 8/10 for our first attempt!

It’s not only cheap, but also excellent for the lunchbox, super tasty, and fun for the kids to make.  I had one little girl who said she didn’t like sushi, but with a little persistence she did try it and now can’t get enough of it!

I have included the basic vegetarian recipe to follow below but we also added some chicken schnitzel or tuna, for those who wanted to have it.

The bamboo sushi mat was only a bit over $2.00 from Woolworths and worth every penny! 

My top 6 tips for saving money on our lunchboxes are:

  1. Shop Supermarkets own brand.
  2. Buy in bulk and make up your own snack pots.
  3. Shop the specials.
  4. Look at the 100g price and compare!
  5. Use up leftovers if it is something they love.
  6. Drink water not juice.

Below are a few recipes I have included which are perfect for filling those little snack pots. Enjoy!

Pasta Salad

Ingredients
  • 500 g spiral pasta
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  • 270 g sun dried tomatoes
  • 400 g corn kernels
  • 75 g salami/ham or omit for vegetarian option.
  • 3 handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • 150 g feta
METHOD
  1. Cook your pasta as per the directions on the packet. Be sure not to overcook your pasts, you want it firm. Cool the pasta by running under cold water, allow the pasta to drain well after you have completed this.
  2. Drain the corn kernels, slice the salami into strips, crumble the feta.
  3. Put your mayonnaise in a small mixing bowl. Drain the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes into the same bowl. Whisk to combine, this is the dressing for the pasta salad. 
  4. Stir the dressing through your cooked, cooled pasta so that all the pasta has a light coating. Taste your pasta and season with salt and pepper as needed. 
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and toss the salad so they are evenly distributed. Refrigerate until serving.

Sushi

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups sushi rice
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 nori sheets
  • 2 tbsp whole-egg mayonnaise
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 medium avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • Salt-reduced soy sauce, to serve
METHOD
  1. Rinse and drain rice 3 times or until water runs clear. Place in a sieve over a bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to drain.
  2. Place rice and 1 1/2 cups cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cover. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 12 minutes or until water has absorbed. Remove from heat. Stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place vinegar and sugar in a microwave-safe jug. Microwave on high (100%) for 30 seconds. Stir to dissolve sugar. Transfer rice to a large ceramic dish. Using a spatula, stir to break up lumps. Slowly add vinegar mixture, lifting and turning rice, until rice has cooled.
  4. Place 1 nori sheet, shiny-side down, on a sushi mat. Using damp fingers, spread 3/4 cup rice over nori, leaving a 2cm strip at 1 short end. Spread 2 teaspoons mayonnaise over centre of rice. Arrange one-quarter cucumber, avocado and carrot over mayonnaise. Using the sushi mat, roll up firmly to form a roll. Cut into 6 slices. Repeat with remaining nori sheets, rice, mayonnaise, cucumber, avocado and carrot to make 24 pieces. Serve with soy sauce.

4 Ingredient Milo Balls

Ingredients
  • 250 g plain sweet biscuits cookies (like Arnotts Marie)
  • 100 g (1 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 45 g (⅓ cup) Milo powder or any malted milk powder
  • 395 g sweetened condensed milk full fat
  • extra desiccated coconut to coat
METHOD
  1. Crush the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs. Place into a large bowl. 
  2. Add the coconut, Milo and sweetened condensed milk, and mix to combine (see Tips).
  3. Roll into heaped teaspoon-sized balls and then roll to coat in the extra coconut. 
  4. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 7 days (or freeze for up to 1 month).