I hardly have any control on what actually happens during school lunch break time and don't know whether my kids really pay attention to eating during the breaks. According to my elder one his story goes like this ~ they need to go to toilet, wash hands, as well as PLAY [in caps because majority of the break time is spent in playing] besides eating. The younger one being in kindergarten , no clue about what he does. As of now its trial and error basis with his lunch box, where sometimes it comes empty and sometimes not. At the beginning of every academic year [during PTM's], we are reminded by the Principal of the school ~ try not to pack messy foods in the tiffin box and not to pack in such quantity as if they have come to school just to eat the food. To highlight his point, he told us about an incident of sambhar spill that happened in one of the kindergarten classroom and the mess that followed after this spill ... I can totally understand the apprehension of the mom who packed such a lunch box for her kindergartner. So you see its not just about "What we should pack?" but also thinking about "What not to pack?" and that will make this lunch box idea exercise fruitful. I came across a good read here on certain don'ts while packing the lunch boxes. Hope you find it helpful. Few additions from my side to the above article: I always try out a particular new dish at home to check kids liking and this way they can also practice eating it at home. Apart from this let them practice opening the boxes, water bottles, juice bottles, etc and as they master the art of eating from their tiffin box, the concern of spilling will disappear gradually.
Both my kids are fond of appos and I have been making them at least once a week after I got hold of my appe kayili also known as Aebleskiver pan/paniyaram pan. Appos are made in different ways, traditional ones with regular dosa idli batter and instant ones with wheat flour or semolina. You can make them plain or stuffed, sweet or spicy. Below recipe of stuffed savory appos turned out to be a hit item at my place and recently has been added to the list of lunch box ideas. Its the stuffing that makes this dish taste delicious without requiring any accompaniment. The filling here is dry potato subzi. I adapted the recipe of Sambhar Baby potatoes to prepare the subzi, but instead of baby potatoes I have included regular potatoes. You can make this with our regular dosa/idli batter and try with range of stuffing like cheese, jam or any different mixed veggie.
For Potato subzi
3 small sized potatoes, boiled and diced into small cubes
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
1/4 tsp red chilli powder [Adjust as per your preference for spicy levels]
1/8 tsp of turmeric
1/4 tsp sambhar powder [ You may adjust and increase this, I used little keeping in mind that my younger one has to approve the spicy levels]
Pinch of asafoetida
Finely chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Oil/Ghee for greasing the pan
2 cups dosa/ Idli batter
Prepare the subzi. Heat oil in pan, Add mustard seeds and as they splutter add finely chopped onions. Saute it until light brown. Add finely chopped curry leaves, followed by dry spice powders. Next add cubed potato pieces, salt and mix well. Cook it covered on low flame for 2 mins more. Switch off the flame and garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves. The subzi/stuffing is ready. Keep it aside.
Next step :
Heat the appe kayili/pan, grease each mould with few drops of oil. Pour a tablespoon of idli/ dosa batter in each mould, followed by a tsp of potato subzi and then pouring a little more batter on top to cover the filling [see in the collage pic above]. Cover the pan, lower the flame and allow it to cook. Flip the appos once they are done on one side and cook for a couple of minutes more. Stuffed appos are ready.
My younger one enjoyed eating stuffed appos from his tiffin box. [This was a practice session for him at home to check if he likes it or not]
You can check my other posts of variations of appo : Instant masala oats Appo and Godu Appo
For more Tiffin/ Lunch box ideas click here and here
Happy cooking as well as packing your kids lunchboxes.