Jozi Real Food Kids – Lunchbox Series – Part 2
The lunchbox series is brought to you as a collaboration between The Jozi Real Food Revolution and Hire Education – a Jozi Real Food Kids Revolution Partner – standing for your connection to nutrient dense real food from the country’s best sustainable farms, artisans and producers as well as your right to education about the food you are eating.
For my next article aimed at helping you to put together nutrient-dense lunch-box ideas for your children, I’m going leftfield. Being an activist, I can get away with this and everybody expects this of me. J
You’re going to think I’ve lost the plot but stay with me, I’m going to suggest that you do something that might first sound like work but that I am adamant is going to save you time down the track and help you have easily accessible clean, protein to use as bases for meals in your fridge.
We can’t hope to change our children’s diets if we keep turning to conveyor belt food for convenience. To get real, nutrient dense food readily available for our families, we do need to rather have a fridge full of convenient ‘real’ food.
This revolution is going to require that we go back to some old fashioned basics so that our fridges are filled with cooked food from real meals instead of packets.
This food revolution is very much about going back in order to go forward.
So for the second lunch-box series, I’m going to tell you to roast a good farm full chicken every week.
Before you’re all up in arms thinking that I’m suggesting that you get up at 2am to roast your child a chicken for their lunch-box – just hear me out. I’m not!
Many moons ago before we all ran off to work, threw out our aprons and let the conveyor belts of giant corporates take over our pantries, roasting a whole chicken was something quite normal. Not only was it normal but it also ended up making 3 – 4 meals economically for a family. I want us to return to the tradition of roasting a large chicken once a week. It is going to help you tremendously with your children’s lunch-boxes.
I’m not referring to the small brined chickens we are have become accustomed to seeing in the supermarkets either. I’m talking about good old-fashioned, real sized farm chickens. If it’s less than 1.5kg’s and diminishes in size still as the brine drains out while cooking, this advice isn’t going to help at all. You’ll only get one meal for a family of 4 and while the meat will be tender from the brining, antibiotic residue in the chicken flesh and weak from chickens who haven’t exercised much, it won’t be anywhere as near tasty as a real, free-ranged farm chicken.
If you are a family of 4 or more, I’m going to suggest that you roast a proper sized – and that is around 2.5kg’s and upwards chicken once a week.
Make sure that it is a free range farm chicken – a farm chicken not produced to spec by large retailers, will be larger, will have firm flesh from exercise and will give you more than 1 meal – in fact you should expect no less than 4.
So many people have memories of how far a while chicken used to go before they became small, convenient and industrialized.
We need to go back to that because it means that out of one easy roasting session, you will have good quality chicken pieces in the fridge to quickly throw together for school lunches.
If you find a good supplier of farm fresh, true free ranged chickens you also don’t have to worry about antibiotic residue or growth promoter residue in the flesh, or brine. The size you start out with is the size you finish with.
For a little work, you get the chicken in the oven, you have a roast chicken meal for one night and then you have a Tupperware full of cold chicken in the fridge to use for lunch-boxes.
Through-out most of this series, I’m going to give you ideas for cooking in a way that leaves you with convenient, nutrient-dense food in the fridge so that ‘making lunch’ is just a matter of heating.
Get BPA-free lunch-boxes and a temperature proofed lunch-bag and if you send a hot, real meal in their lunchbox, it will still be warm by the time they have first break.
Meal Suggestion 2
- Left over farm style free range roast-chicken – *see recipe
- Left over roasted potatoes or sweet potato wedges
- Gravy from the chicken
- Cocktail Tomatoes
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees – place some cut up chicken pieces, some roast potatoes (all from the meal the night before) with some of the left over gravy in a small oven dish, to just re-heat. Splash over some balsamic vinegar if your child likes it, my daughter loves the sweet – once it has re-heated – add some raw veg to it like cocktail tomatoes.
The gravy that you get from the roast chicken will be so full of flavor, a gorgeous aroma is going to seduce them when they open their lunch-box.
A piece of organic seasonal fruit
A small pot of made up yourself – natural yoghurt from grass-fed dairy sweetened with a tsp of raw honey or your child’s favorite fruit. Please go for full-fat natural yoghurt from cows that are grass-fed and not fed antibiotics or growth hormones and that has not had anything added to it. If the label says anything other than ‘full cream milk and cultures’ – put it down – it’s not the ‘real’ yoghurt we want.
Your child will have a lunch-box with a proper meal in it of nutrient-dense real food – with no added preservatives, additives, sugar, gluten or chemicals in it and the beauty is that all the work would have been done the day before with the roast – you’re just cooking enough that you have accessible real ingredients to re-heat into a lunch for children in the morning.
When you get into the kitchen to get coffee on and all the circus that starts in a busy household morning – you just get into the habit of quickly putting the oven on to warm and then getting a meal into it for them to re-heat for 10 minutes while everybody is eating breakfast and it’s done.
If you are a busy working full-time Mum like me, you’ve probably got domestic help – teach them how to roast a chicken so that they can do it for you.
See my recipe for roast chicken.
If you buy a 2.5kg – 3kg free range farm chicken – it does well slow cooked for 3 hours on 150 degrees. If you are working and have house help – teach them this recipe and let them dress it and put it in the oven for you mid-afternoon.
Otherwise you can also do it at 180 degrees for 2 hours.
All you need to do is cut 1 lemon and one onion into quarters, stuff these into the cavity with a handful of fresh thyme (any fresh herbs will work but thyme is great for the gravy) and 6 whole garlic cloves, a blob of butter and a dash of olive oil.
On the outside of the bird then, rub some good butter from grass-fed cows into the flesh, drizzle over some olive oil, sea salt and pepper, fresh thyme and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
That will take you 15-20 minutes max and that’s the work over. All you need to do now is get the chicken into the oven and let it do it’s own thing. Take out and baste with the roasting pan juices every half an hour, other than that you can get on with life.
Once it’s roasted, take it out to rest for half an hour. Immediately pour the roasting pan juices into a steel or glass bowl preferably and stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes. As it cools, the fat will separate from the gravy and you more easily drain off the fat.
If it sets solid, you can just skim the fat off the top, otherwise just separate – add the rest of the juices to a pan on the stove-top – add in some white wine and let it reduce to a full flavored gravy.
Add a blob of butter before serving and you’ll have a dreamy gravy.
If your butter is from good grass-fed dairy, it is full of goodness, vitamins A, D, E and K, CLA and omega 3’s.
Find good proper free range whole chickens at our Bryanston Store from 2 farms that I personally endorse as being true, healthy, outdoor free range environments for chickens. The large birds from The Free Range Food Company that everybody thinks are turkeys – are also the first in Jozi to boast a 100% non-GM diet altogether.
Otherwise ask for me in-store and I’ll help you.
Another Mum obsessed with nutrient-dense clean food for her children,
Food Activist, Journalist, Owner of The Organic Natural and Whole Food Emporium and founder of The Jozi Real Food Revolution.