Back to school hacks and snacks

29th January 2021 | Eativity editors

Seeing the kids head back to school for another year always comes with a mixture of bursting pride, secret relief and that never-ending question – what the hell am I going to give them to eat? While you can never go wrong with a good old sandwich, there are other ways to keep your kids happy, healthy and well-fed at school and when they get home. Just check out this tried-and-tested advice from two experts – Danielle Esplin, parent and Marketing Manager of Barker’s – which produces world-class jams, chutneys, sauces and fruit compotes – and Insta-famous school lunchbox expert George Georgievski.

Lunchbox tips and tricks

The early morning rush of breakfast and lunchbox prep can feel pretty stressful, but there are ways to get a jump on that back-to-school panic. Esplin, mum to Sienna (8) and Cole (13) shares her top lunchbox hacks to get you across the line come school drop-off time.

Save time with meal prepping

“Setting aside an hour to plan when the kids have gone to bed can help get you ahead during the school week,” Esplin says. “Select sweet and savoury recipes that you can create in bulk to save time. Use Barker’s NZ Apricot Jam to create crunchy apricot slices. This traybake can be cut into squares and are the perfect sweet treat to add to a lunchbox. It keeps fresh in a sealed container in the fridge or is ideal for storing in the freezer.”

Encourage and involve kids in the process

“Getting the kids involved is a sure way to make lunchbox prepping more enjoyable, while educating your kids about better food choices,” Esplin says. They’re also more likely to enjoy their lunchbox if they help in the prepping process. Muffin frittatas with Barker’s NZ Traditional Tomato Relish are a great way to sneak in the goodness of vegetables and it’s an easy recipe that you can enjoy making together. Change out with any vegetables you may have at home… or you know your kids will eat.”

Reduce waste and save time with leftovers

“Using up leftovers or what’s in your fridge can be the making of a delicious school lunch, while also reducing food waste,” Esplin says. “If you have an lots of vegies in the fridge, try creating Leftover Lovers Sausage Rolls with Barker’s NZ Sweet Chilli Relish. Versatile and delicious, these are a tasty and filling addition to see your kids through the day.”

The “lunchbox dad” brings the after-school Maggic

To help parents who’d like to give their kids more variety, Maggi has joined forces with Aussie dad George Georgievski, who has created a series of simple and delicious recipes that’ll keep the kids happy when they get home from school, like, totally staaaaaarving.

Maggi vegie “rap”

“As the new school year is here, I thought I’d put together the ultimate after-school snack that the little peeps will go crazy for,” Georgievski says. “I knew I’d be a rapper one day, and this is a little different, but still gangsta…”

How to make it

1. Cook Maggi 2-Minute Wholegrain Noodles as per instructions on the packet. Also parboil some of your favourite vegies – try carrots, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini or red capsicum.
2. Let the noodles cool down a little and wrap them around the beautiful colourful vegies. Dress them up from head to toe. Pop them on a baking dish and bake in an air fryer for six minutes on 180°C or a normal oven on 180°C for 12 minutes.
3. When the vegies are cooked, serve them on a board or plate and add any dipping sauce in a separate little bowl.

Banananoodles

“You got it – just like with the vegies but we’re using a banana!” Georgievski says. “This is the ultimate after-school snack that adds crunch and is a balanced sweet treat that keeps hungry tummies at bay. It’s also fun for the little peeps to get involved.”

How to make it

1. Peel the banana and wrap the cooked noodles around the banana. Make it messy, no need for perfection – let your creativity run wild. Make as many as you like; they’re quick, easy and fun to make. One packet of Maggi 2-Minute Wholegrain Noodles wraps around five large bananas, but one banana each is easily enough to fill you up. Once the bananas are all wrapped, drizzle a little honey over the top and sprinkle on a touch of ground cinnamon.
2. Bake the banananoodles for six minutes in an air fryer on 180°C or 12 minutes in a normal oven for 12 minutes in 180°C. Top this simple, easy masterpiece off with a serve of natural yoghurt and some other bright, delicious fruit like passionfruit.

Maggicken nuggets

“Kids go crazy for nuggets,” Georgievski says. “In fact, it’s almost a borderline out-of-control crazy obsession. Check out this fun way to make nuggets using everyone’s fave Maggi 2-Minute Wholegrain Noodles. They’re quick and easy, as well as being a great source of fibre – and they fit perfectly in the lunch box, too.”

How to make it

1. Slice a chicken breast into 2cm-thick strips, place on baking paper and cook for 8 minutes in an air fryer at 180°C or 16 minutes in a normal oven at 180°C.
2. Now it’s time to cook your Maggi 2-Minute Wholegrain Noodles. Once these are cooked and cooled down, wrap the nuggets nice and tight so the whole chicken piece is covered. The crazier they look, the better.
3. Now back on the baking tray and cook again for the same amount of time: 8 minutes in an air fryer at 180°C or 16 minutes in a normal oven at 180°C.
4. Once cooked, sprinkle the seasoning sachet on top and add your sauce of choice. Serve with a rainbow salad to incorporate colour and entice kids to eat with their eyes.

Chicken Eggoodle Nests

“Have you ever had crunchy runny eggs for breakfast?” Georgievski asks. “My girls and I love them, so much so that they’re a once a week treat on weekends after a big school week.”

How to make it

1. Cook your Maggi 2-Minute Wholegrain Noodles, then pop them straight into a muffin tray and fill the tray up. You’ll be creating nests for the eggs.
2. Now pop the muffin tray in an air fryer for six minutes on 180°C or 12 minutes in a normal oven at 180°C.
3. Boil the egg for five minutes only, take it off the boil and pop it in cold water to stop the cooking process.
4. After a few minutes, peel the egg – but be careful as it’s still soft and runny inside. Once the noodles are cooked, take them out of the muffin tray and pop on a plate. Carefully place the egg on the nest and sprinkle the Maggi flavour sachet on top. Enjoy with a side of baked beans or wholemeal toast.