As a food-loving father of two daughters, Chilli, 13, and Indii, 11, we’re guessing Pete Evans has packed a few lunch boxes in his time. Can you imagine the calibre of schoolyard lunch swaps going on there?
As with any area of his life where food and family intersect, Pete is passionate about finding ways to make the daily task of creating delicious, nutritionally loaded lunches as easy and enjoyable as possible for the rest of us idea-strapped parents. Uh-huh! Hands up to that!
So what do you do with all your spare time when you’re an award-winning chef, TV presenter, health coach, podcaster, author and dad? Write the Lunch Box book, of course!
For anyone familiar with Pete’s colourful Instagram feed – a life bursting with outdoor adventure, lust-worthy food and fresh, happy faces – it will come as no surprise that his latest cookbook features 70 recipes based on his beloved paleo way.
But believe us, you don’t have to be an activated nut to appreciate these school-smart snacks, meals and treats that are free of gluten, nuts, dairy and refined sugar.
Here, we’re just a little bit excited to share his favourite Lunch Box recipes and get an insight into Pete Evans, the lunch-box packer…
Can you tell us what sort of food featured in little Pete Evans’ school lunch box? Mainly it was a sandwich or a pie from the school canteen so not that much nutrition to be honest, which is probably why I wasn’t the healthiest kid around.
What are some of the challenges that you (or any parent) face when filling your children’s lunch boxes?
Obviously a big one is making sure the food stays fresh until lunchtime – depending on the weather – so a good quality lunch box helps immensely to preserve the quality and health of the ingredients packed.
What are your favourite recipes from your new Lunch Box book and why?
I don’t think you can go past the savoury muffins section, to be honest, as they have the most flavour and there is quite a range of options, from the basic to the damn delicious!
Salami & Olive Muffins
Do you have any tips or hacks to ensure the contents of a lunch box travels well and stays fresh? This one’s for the parents who are sick of facing the soggy remains of what they lovingly sent to daycare or school.
Ice packs are great, so it’s best if your lunch box comes with a cooler bag and ice brick compartment, like the Love Mae ones do, and the stainless ones work great too.
PETE’S GUIDE TO PURCHASING LUNCH BOXES
“Most lunch boxes and drink bottles these days are made from plastic, and it’s hard to tell which plastic is leaching out dangerous chemicals. Always look at the labels on lunch boxes and drink bottles to check what materials they are made from.
Avoid PVC and BPA at all costs. If you look at the bottom of your plastic container, you will usually see a triangular recycling symbol containing a number from 1 to 7. Number 3 is PVC, number 6 is polystyrene, and 7 is polycarbonate. If you see and of these three numbers, it’s best to avoid.
The other rule to remember is to avoid plastic wrap. Wrapping your lunch in baking paper or reusable beeswax paper and using a brown paper bag is the best way to pack your lunch if you do not have containers.”
DID YOU KNOW? Love Mae’s lunch boxes are made from #5PP – one of the least toxic plastics on the planet – and are free of BPA, PVC and Phthalates.
When do you think kids should start making their own lunch?
I don’t think kids have time to make their own lunch – in today’s education system they are overwhelmed with so much homework, so kids need all the sleep they can get and also all the play that they can get. Perhaps they can help on the kitchen on the weekends if they show an interest.
How would you describe your parenting style? Tiger, free-range, black hawk?
I am just me and the kids are themselves. It is vitally important to just guide and have a safe environment for them to sleep in and to provide nutritionally good food and then step away as much as possible so they can form their own personalities without too much interference from their parents. The last thing you want is a little you or me running around, as that is not their unique and beautiful self. They need support to discover their own likes and preferences and to create their own concepts and beliefs without adopting the parents fears and insecurities.
Real-life dilemma: “I’ve got a 9-year-old fruit & veggie fiend who desperately needs more protein and a 6-year-old who’s the lovechild of a caveman and a baker (she’s all about the meat and carbs).” Any lunch-box advice?
I generally follow this simple formula for my kids’ school lunches: some fruit, some veggies and some protein in the form of eggs, meat or seafood and they get a Chindii cookie or some other small treat to have a nibble, like a piece of organic chocolate. Also, I like them to drink fluoride- and chlorine-free water.
PETE’S FREEZER-FRIENDLY LUNCHES
“Preparing food for school or work lunches can sometimes get a little challenging, especially on those busy mornings when you’re trying to get everyone out the door.
Why not make a big batch of freezer-friendly meals on the weekend – such as meaty muffins, sausage rolls or nut-free banana bread – and have them individually portioned, securely wrapped or packed into airtight containers and stored in the freezer?
When it’s time to start making lunches in the morning, simply pop the frozen meals straight from the freezer into lunch boxes. By lunch they will be thawed and ready to eat or reheat.”
Would you call your latest book Lunch Box a ‘passion project’ that’s been brewing for while?
Yes, I have wanted to create a solution for busy parents who are passionate about good health, and want to feed their kids delicious and nutritious food. I’ve been working on this book for years and would love to do a follow-up down the track, too.
What are you excited about in the future?
More fun adventures with the family, more time to expand my own consciousness and definitely more love and delicious food. x
Raspberry 'Bounty' Bars