Packing lunch boxes can be a daunting task, but with a bit of planning you can make things so much easier. Maybe you can recall many a cheese and jam sarmie from your school years, but that’s definitely not the only option on the lunch box menu these days. Different elements from supper can become part of a colourful and balanced lunch box, so be creative with meat portions, cooked veggies, salad ingredients and seasonal fruit.
Some time ago a friend, Hilton Turner, shared his brilliant and delicious idea with me to turn a bobotie mixture into individual muffins. It was an instant hit with my family and the kids feel quite spoilt when they have some of these in their lunch boxes. I’ve even used this method with a basic tomato mince mixture and it’s equally successful. I use my favourite bobotie recipe for the mince mixture, but feel free to use what your family enjoys. Instead of baking it with the egg custard on top, beaten eggs are stirred into the mince and baked like muffins. They taste great at room temperature and could even be enjoyed at a picnic. These are quite filling, so a batch goes a long way. They also freeze very well, and will help you to have some on standby for those days that you don’t have something ready for lunch boxes.
Remember that lunch boxes are not only for the kids and if you need something to keep everyone full throughout the day, these bobotie muffins are just the answer. Pack them with some lightly cooked green beans or broccoli and fresh fruit or salad ingredients… lunch is sorted, and anything but boring!
Makes 20 – 22 muffins
30 ml (2 tbsp) avocado or olive oil (see tip)
1 kg lean beef or lamb mince
2 thick slices wholewheat bread or 125 ml (½ cup) uncooked oats
250 ml (1 cup) boiling water or Rooibos tea
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
20 ml (4 tsp) mild curry powder
15 ml (1 tbsp) each dried mixed herbs, ground cumin and coriander
5 ml (1 tsp) each turmeric and ground ginger
20 ml (4 tsp) smooth apricot jam
125 ml (½ cup) raisins or sultanas (optional)
40 ml (8 tsp) red wine vinegar or lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 large or extra large eggs, beaten
1. Heat half the oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan and brown some of the meat. Break up any lumps with a wooden spoon or fork. Spoon out, set aside and repeat with the remaining meat and oil.
2. Meanwhile soak bread in the water or Rooibos in a mixing bowl. (If using, the oats are just added to the browned mince, no soaking needed.)
3. Sauté the onions in the same pan until soft and add the garlic, curry, herbs and spices and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Add bread or oats and meat to the onions and mix well.
4. Reduce heat and simmer with a lid for 20 minutes. Stir in the jam, raisins or sultanas and vinegar or lemon juice and season. Simmer for another few minutes and then allow to cool slightly.
5. Preheat oven to 180 °C and grease a muffin pan or place sturdy paper cups on a baking tray. Line the muffin pan with muffin cups for ease of packing later, if preferred.
6. Stir eggs into the mince mixture and divide between the muffin pan or paper cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set.
7. Allow to cool and refrigerate or freeze until needed. Pack into a lunch box with salad ingredients and fresh fruit.
1. I regularly cook with Westfalia Avocado Oil. Their range includes plain avocado oil, as well as garlic, lemon, and butter-flavoured avocado oils. These are great for drizzling, frying, grilling, roasting, baking and braaing.