Lifestyle

Tasty Lunch Pan Options

Emma Sharp Dalton-Brown

Thursday, January 31, 2013    

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We continue our focus on presenting stylish meals on a budget with a peek inside the lunch pan.

Many schools do provide some options for lunch, whether it be a set menu of cooked food, or various items from a canteen or tuck shop. However, all of this can still add up and put pressure on the purse strings. So we have devised a cheaper home-cooked option for you (less than $25, $45, $65, $80, $150 for five different lunches, less than $30 for an added snack, and if you throw in some fruit, which costs under $50, and ice water in a little cooler, your child will be more than set).

You will see from the recipes below that they are simple, quick to make, and everything may be stored in the freezer, so you will be able to use them over a few months, and any extra servings won't go to waste. Of course, adults will enjoy it all as well, but you may require double the serving of a child! Even if you do this, it still works out as a very affordable meal.

Next week, we will explore unique packed lunches to take to work.

MONDAY'S MEATLESS LUNCH FOR LESS THAN $45

Callaloo & Tomato Quiche Cupcakes: Makes 8 Servings

Ingredients:

1 bundle (about 3/4 lb) callaloo, chopped and steamed until just tender - $60

1 tblsp vegetable oil - $2

1/2 bunch (about 6) escallion, finely sliced - $30

1/2 lb tomatoes, diced - $30

Salt & black pepper - $2

4 eggs - $110

4 fl oz heavy cream - $85

1/4 oz butter for greasing - $10

Method:

Preheat the oven to 300F.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the escallion and cook until softened.

Add the tomatoes, and cook for a few more minutes.

Stir in the cooked callaloo and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and cool.

Beat the eggs with the heavy cream in a large bowl, pour in the callaloo mixture and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Grease the moulds of a muffin tray with a little butter.

Divide the mixture between the moulds, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and run a knife along the outside of each 'cupcake'.

Leave to cool for five minutes, then remove each 'cupcake' with a knife or palette knife. Cool on a wire rack.

These may be kept in the fridge in an airtight container, or may be frozen. Defrost in the fridge overnight.

Send one in each kid's lunch pan.

TUESDAY'S TERRIFIC LUNCH FOR UNDER $150

Smoked Sausage Rolls: Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 roti skin - $100 (You many buy these from Barbara Calo at 472-9886, and freeze what you are not using)

1 (1/4 lb) smoked sausage - $140 (When you buy a whole packet, you may freeze what you are not using)

2 tsps ketchup - $40

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Place the sausage in an ovenproof dish and roast for 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool. Use immediately or store in the fridge overnight in an airtight container.

Wrap the sausage in the roti skin, then cut 1/2 inch rolls. Pack in two lunch pans and send to school with a couple tablespoons of ketchup packed up in a separate container.

WEDNESDAY'S WACKY LUNCH FOR LESS THAN $65

Pesto Spaghetti 'Cupcakes': Makes 8 Servings

Ingredients:

8 oz spaghetti - $90

2 oz The Gourmet Touch Pesto - $135

6 fl oz heavy cream - $125

3 eggs - $80

Salt & black pepper - $2

5 tsps homemade breadcrumbs (4 slices brown bread whizzed in food processor) - $50

1/4 oz butter for greasing - $10

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Break the spaghetti in half and cook according to packet instructions, then drain well.

Lightly beat the eggs with the pesto and the cream in a large bowl.

Pour in the cooked spaghetti, mix well and season with salt and pepper.

Grease eight moulds of a muffin tray with a little butter.

Divide the mixture between the eight muffin moulds, and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until cooked and lightly golden on top.

Remove from oven, and use a knife to go around the outside of each 'cupcake'. Cool for five minutes, then remove each 'cupcake' with knife or palette knife. Cool on a wire rack.

These may be kept in the fridge in an airtight container, or may be frozen. Defrost in the fridge overnight.

Send one in each kid's lunch pan.

THURSDAY'S FUN BRUNCH FOR UNDER $80

Sausage & Egg 'Cupcakes': Makes 6 Servings

Ingredients:

2 (1/2 lb) English Bangers - $265

4 eggs - $110

4 fl oz heavy cream - $85

Salt - $1

1/4 oz butter for greasing - $10

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the sausages in an ovenproof dish, pierce the flesh with a fork a couple times, and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, turning a few times during cooking.

Remove from heat and cool slightly, then slice and dice.

Turn temperature of oven down to 300F.

Beat the eggs with the cream, season with salt. Stir in the diced sausages.

Grease the moulds of a muffin tray with a little butter.

Divide the mixture between the moulds, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and run a knife along the outside of each 'cupcake'.

Leave to cool for five minutes, then remove each 'cupcake' with a knife or palette knife. Cool on a wire rack.

These may be kept in the fridge in an airtight container, or may be frozen. Defrost in the fridge overnight.

Send two in each kid's lunch pan.

FRIDAY'S HEALTHY GOODIE FOR UNDER $25 PER HEAD

Pumpkin & Oat Muffins: Makes 21

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs pumpkin (skin included), cut into large chunks - $75

6 eggs - $180

2 1/2 oz sugar - $25 (Please note how little sugar is used - works out to less than 1 tsp per muffin)

8 oz old-fashioned oats - $80

8 oz flour - $40

4 tsps baking powder - $40

1 tsp vanilla essence - $5

8 fl oz vegetable oil - $50

1/2 oz butter for greasing - $20

Cook the pumpkin in a pot of boiling water until softened - about 15 minutes. Drain, return to the pan and mash well with a fork. Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Beat the eggs with the sugar, then beat in the cooled pumpkin.

Add the oats, flour and baking powder, beating well between each addition.

Finally beat in the vanilla and oil, until everything is well mixed in.

Grease 2 x 12 mould muffin tin (you'll have enough mixture for about 21 cupcakes).

Fill each muffin mould about 2/3 full, then bake in the oven for about 12 minutes until just cooked, and a knife will come out of a cupcake 'clean'.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool a few minutes before running a knife around each cupcake. Leave to cool for another five minutes, then use the knife to remove each cupcake. Rest them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight, or in the freezer, and then send a frozen cupcake to school with each child (it will defrost in a couple hours, in time for eating).

EXTRA HEALTHY SNACK FOR UNDER $30 PER HEAD

Coconut & Oat Cookies: Makes 24 (12 servings)

Ingredients:

4 oz butter - $160

2 1/2 oz sugar - $25 (Please note how little sugar is used - works out to less than 1 tsp per cookie)

1 egg - $30

1 1/3 cups freshly grated coconut (about 1/2 dried coconut) - $60

2 oz oats - $20

6 oz flour - $30

1/2 tsp baking powder - $5

1/4 tsp baking soda - $5

1 tsp vanilla essence - $5

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Beat the butter with the sugar until smooth and light.

Beat in the egg, coconut, oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla essence until well mixed.

Take one tablespoon amounts of mixture and roll into balls, place on baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

Use a fork and press down on each ball to make a cookie shape. It helps to stick the fork in flour between each time you press down, so the mixture does not stick to the fork.

Bake in the oven for about eight minutes until lightly coloured.

Remove from oven. Using a palette knife or spatula, place the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.

tore in an airtight container in the fridge, or freezer if longer than a couple days.

Send two as a snack to school in each child's lunch pan.

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