The summer holiday is definitely upon us and if you are anything like me, you are probably making plans in your head about places to go and things to do with your little ones to keep them entertained without spending a fortune.
Picnic lunches are a great option to keep the mess and money spend to a minimum. But although I always start the summer break intending to pack only the most delicious and nutritious food and snacks to take on our adventures, I quickly find myself giving up and falling back on ham sandwiches for the rest of the holidays.
The thing is, prepping and packing picnic lunches can be a faff. And buying ready-to-eat food is both expensive and usually sold in more plastic than is needed, so not very environmentally-friendly either.
So what’s the solution then, I hear you ask? Speak to the amazing Maria at Poole Mumbler and get her to put some delicious ideas together! There is no way I can take this blog as my own idea as anyone who knows me, knows I am not the cook in our house! So thanks Maria for allowing me to share your tips!!
The listed ingredients are very vague, so you can use what you have at home already or what you normally buy in your supermarket shop. The last thing parents need during the summer is complicated shopping lists with ingredients they’ll only use once. We’d rather you spent the money on gin instead, or chocolate, or both!!
5 Quick and fresh salads
1. Greek salad: Red onions, tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, black olives olive oil and any dried herbs you may have (oregano or mixed herbs will go well).
2. Couscous salad: Cooked couscous (ideally cooked in veg or chicken stock or from a pouch for ease), tinned peas, sweet corn and beans of your choice. Mix with a lovely dressing for added flavour. Here’s my ultimate favourite: https://www.loveandlemons.com/miso-dressing/
3. Pasta salad: Cooked pasta the night before? Cook more than you need and keep some for lunch the next day. If you have a blender at home, you can make a really quick pesto dressing. Here’s my favourite recipe: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/fresh_basil_pesto/ You can also add some veggies like peas, sundried tomatoes, or chopped antipasti. And a bit more parmesan cheese… why not?
5. Turkey and potato salad. Do you have potato leftovers from the night before? Add some cooked turkey (from the Deli counter if you don’t have time to cook it), cooked green beans (can be from a tin), paprika, and a dressing of your choice (olive oil and lemon juice will do the trick).
5 easy sandwich and wrap fillers
1. Homemade hummus and grated carrots. If you have a good blender at home, all you’ll need is a carton of cooked chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini paste, garlic and olive oil. If your blender is powerful, you don’t even need to waste time pealing the chickpeas. I always have tahini paste in my fridge and cooked chickpeas in my pantry so I can whip a quick hummus as and when I need it. Otherwise, when I buy a tub of ready-to-eat hummus, I often forget it’s in the fridge and have to throw almost the entire thing away. Add raisins for the little ones or crumbled feta cheese for the grown-ups to make it more interesting.
2. Tuna, sweetcorn and green olives. Yes, I know you’ve had tuna and sweetcorn hundreds of times. But have you tried chopping some green olives or capers into it? Chopped coriander and red onion slices also go really well.
3. Baked beans and cheese. I know this isn’t exactly a waistline-friendly option but your kids will love it! Make a burrito style wrap with baked beans and grated cheese. I like making them small and chunky. So satisfying.
4. Turkey breast (Deli), chorizo (or bacon) and creme cheese. No explanation needed. So, so good. You can add avocado slices but make sure you drizzle some lemon juice over it before so it doesn’t go too brown.
5. Smoked salmon and cream cheese. Add capers or green olives and spinach leaves or avocado slices for extra goodness (remember to drizzle lemon juice on the avocado).
5 more ideas
1. Veggie Omelette. Have vegetables leftover from the night before? Throw them onto an oiled pan. Add whisked eggs and cook on medium heat until the egg is firm. If your kids are really fuzzy you could add grated cheese to make it even yummier. Cut into pizza wedges once it’s cooled down.
2. Lentil salad. A pouch of cooked puy lentils can never miss in my pantry. Simply chop some salad veg (cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, etc) really small and mix with the lentils with a fork. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
3. Surprise rice. This tastes so good cold. Chop any veg leftovers very small (carrots, broccoli, green beans,etc.) really tiny and mix with cooked rice. Drizzle soy sauce, a bit of honey and a bit of roasted sesame oil (or olive oil). You can top with a few cashews for added protein. You can also use thin noodles instead of rice.
4. Sweet potato quesadillas. Simply mash cooked sweet potato (without skin) and mix in a bowl with grated parmesan cheese. Spread the mix thinly onto tortilla wraps. Cut each wrap in triangles (or halves) and fry in a pan on a little olive oil until the cheese has melted. Make sure the heat isn’t too high or you’ll burn the wrap.
I usually throw the sweet potatoes in the oven the night before and keep them in the fridge. Then I put the quesadillas together the following morning, let cool down and pack.
5. Veggie nachos. Are you feeling indulgent? Home-made guacamole (blend ripe avocado, fresh coriander, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper), tortilla chips, grated parmesan cheese, tomatoes, cucumber and a few red kidney beans from a tin. You are best to keep the avocado seed inside the guacamole until you are ready to eat it, so it doesn’t brown too much. You can put it on top of salad leaves and topped with jalapeños for the grown-ups if you dare.