Bamibinos Do Ballarat: Volume 2 – Ballarat Boxes and Books
♪♫ Yummy yummy yummy I’ve got food in my tummy and it makes me big and strong. Food is such a good thing such a sweet to eat thing… Sorry, what was I supposed to be talking about? Ah yes, the lunch box. It seems lunch boxes have had a makeover in recent years. With the new year and term approaching I did what most parents probably do and charged myself with lists, stuck things to my fridge and followed a whole host of sites on Instagram to help summon motivation and focus.
Exciting times for consumers of lunch boxes but for the persons filling it, it presents a challenge. One that goes on and on and on. Out with cakes – in with kale! I jest at the inclusions of the ‘superfoods’ and the like into lunch boxes but we all want to feed our kids the best we can offer. That said, the lunch box is a balancing act between keeping bellies full (finding foods that will actually be eaten) and providing adequate nutrients. Homemade is wonderful. It is what we all aspire to and Insta certainly fuels the pressure with example after example of perfect lunch boxes, brimming with fruit and veg, creativity and homemade goodies. Majority of the time we can be organised and focused enough to fill them up but we all have those days where nothing goes right or some nights you would rather stick pins in your eyes rather than make yet another perfect lunch box. That is why the lunch order was invented! What I have been searching for is the inclusions that are quick and easy but mimic the parent made. I have looked in as many places I could think of in Ballarat and while it is tricky and not specific (definitely a hole in the market – drive through lunch box anyone?), there are ways to fill a lunch box with minimum effort when required outside the supermarket.
Wilsons is brimming with options and has two locations in town; Mair Street and the site in Lucas shopping centre. They have a deli with meats, ready-made salads and cheeses. The fridge section also has lots of yogurts, felafel, sausage rolls, quiche, dips and crackers, fruit salads, granola and yogurt combo’s and there are a number of packaged fillers as well such as popcorn, muesli bars and slices and fresh bread. Of course the rest of the store has ample fruit and vegetables and while some would argue that it is no different to shopping at a supermarket it does offer less processing, it is really fresh and parking out the front. The fridge section really does have a lot of great options. Your local butcher may be able to provide some goodies to add in; generally items like sausage rolls and quiche that are made fresh and free from preservatives. Throw in a piece of fruit and bang! Lunch box done.
The little nugget of gold I did find for lunch box fare was Kittletey’s Café at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. What a treasure trove of goodies this place is. I popped in to see if I could fill a lunch box and walked out with an arm full and dreaming of tea and cake. I will be returning for an adult adventure so I can savour whichever deliciousness I choose from the magical array of cakes in the cabinet. Or maybe a biscuit, or a scone, or a muffin, or one of the slices next to the register? Wow. You can absolutely bring kids in and the staff are so welcoming and lovely they will accommodate anything but for me, cake that looks and tastes that good shall be savoured. For lunch boxes for all ages there are overnight oats, delightful and fresh sandwiches and wraps with a multitude of fillings, savoury muffins with varying ingredients each day (I purchased a spinach, pumpkin, feta and pumpkin seed), healthy slices and not so healthy ones, sweet muffins with fruits, quiche, frittata, scones, and loads of other house baked goodies. They cater for allergies too with all your GFs, DFs and NFs outlined for each item. They have fresh loaves of Basilio breads and lots of other luxuries. I bought some Roy Farms Dried Apricots which are made in Renmark and they were easily the best dried apricots I have ever tried. I think the owner, Sarah, and her staff would hook you up with anything you asked for and they open at 6am most days so you can swing by on the way to school and get yourself a piping hot coffee for the road. Happy days.
Sushi is a winner at our house and Ballarat has a number of sushi locations dotted around. It is tricky to find after hours. The Delacombe Town Centre has sushi spot but it closes at 6pm and generally anything still open after lunch have limited selections. The spot in the central square food court is probably the cheapest. If you want to get sushi for the next day, make it a lunch time grab.
There is a really fun, different and convenient option for lunch box snacks; School Snack Box. A school snacks delivery service developed by a busy mum of three, providing loads of delicious and nutritious and nut free snacks perfect for your kids straight to your door monthly. What I love about it is the offers are different to the supermarket offer. I have seen some of the same products but others, like the cocoa coconut chips, I have never seen before. The snack box is worth ordering just for these. Holy yumness they are good. When our box arrived I sat down with Mr 4 and went through them all and discussed what was good for him in each snack and how it would help him get through a busy day of Kinder. He was super excited and I have kept them for the mornings when he was struggling with the idea of going to Kinder. While he loves it, getting him there some mornings is a challenge. If I offer him a special pick from the box it really helped to get him pepped for the day. It would be great for the days you run out of the normal supplies or if you simply love to outsource as we do with so much of our lives. Check it out at http://schoolsnackbox.com.au/
For the actual hardware you have multiple options for lunch boxes. A lot of people elect the online personalised version and there are lots of great local shops selling all the bits. We got our thermos at Le Kitchen which has proven very popular and the trendy Yumbox at Country Kids in the Bridge Mall. That shop seriously has everything you could ever need for kids. You can grab one at the supermarket these days and the options for things to put food in are endless. Mum Mecca (Kmart) has them too of course.
We popped to the library to find a good lunch box book and we found two good ones. We love the library. The staff are delightful, supportive and welcoming. You can eat, you can feed baby (both bottle and boob either in a private room with change facilities and microwave or anywhere that suits) and despite libraries traditionally being quiet, you can be loud without getting kicked out. This is regularly tested by all my bambinos. They have so many great activities for the kids regularly through the term and then lots of varied options catering for all ages during holidays. Julie often takes the Baby Rhyme Time session or Toddler time and she is a wonder; very engaging and warm. A brilliant way to learn kids songs and activities and have fun engaging with your babies or toddler. On Saturdays they often have the Duplo out which provides great opportunity to entertain one child while you search for the perfect title with the next. We joined in the Dinosaur activity last holidays. It was super busy but that is what made it work. There were lots of boxes with sand and children were encouraged to play in the box with dinosaurs, plants, fences and rocks. What was wonderful to watch was the sharing and care between all the children at ages where sharing can be a challenge, especially with strangers. With the school holidays around the corner, check out the holiday program at https://www.centralhighlandslibraries.org.au/client/en_AU/chls/?rm=BALLARAT+LIBRA0%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7C0%7C%7C%7Ctrue
Be sure to select the pirate language when checking your books out; Aye, she be quite fun and ye’ll be on yer way to talkin’ like a pirate.
Have yer’selves a great day me hearties 🙂