Thursday 4 October 2007

Easy Lunch

I always find it very challenging to prepare lunch for the kids.

Since I am not good at cooking, I always have to rely on very simple and easy meals which I can handle. The entire "process" requires carefull planning as well...I'll have to make sure the lunches do not "repeat" itself too often, and I try not to overlap what we have for lunch with our dinner know, I'll make it a point not to have chicken for lunch and chicken again for dinner, and so on. On top of that, I still have to ensure the kids get to get their greens and maintain a balanced diet. The rest of the post will feature what I came up with for the past three days.

Set 1: Creamy Chicken & Mushroom Pasta

This is a rather easy meal to whip up, and one of the few dishes that my kids keep asking me to cook for them. Since I ran out of fresh cream, I used a can of mushroom soup for the sauce. To make up for the "illegal" use of canned soup in this dish, I added fresh chicken thigh meat (boiled and sliced into bite sizes) and fresh shitake mushrooms. These were stir-fried with some garlic and added to the pot of mushroom soup...with just a dash of peppers and no other seasoning, the sauce was poured over a plate of angel hair noodles. I liked the "woody" taste from these fresh mushrooms.

We had the pasta dish with some salads...the two of them were trying their best to finish their share of the raw lettuce, zucchini and cherry tomatoes...although the kids do eat cooked vegetables, they are still not comfortable chewing raw greens ;)

Set 2: Cha Soba with Onigiri (Rice ball)

This is the first time I have made this Cha Soba (cold noodles) dish for my kids. I added a few Onigiri (rice balls) to complete the meal. This soba dish was really not authentic as I omitted the other condiments such as raw quail egg, spring onions and wasabi...knowing very well that the kids would push these aside.

These assorted rice balls were filled with pork floss in the middle, and coated with black & white sesame seeds and some furikake seasonings.

My younger boy prefers the rice ball over the cold noodles...he ate 3 in a row!

Set 3: Hotdog

Our lunch today...hotdog with tortilla chips. This is another fast to cook, quick to eat meal :p

My boys helped put together the sandwich when they were back from school. I added some sour wriggle worm candies as a treat.

Here's my version...topped with some hot & spicy salsa sauce (my better half gave me this idea). If you like spicy food, this is the way to go!!

Now, what are we going to have for lunch next week?!!


Krissles said...

I love the effort you put toward making everything look so nice. My eyes have feasted well with this post!

Lucky kids you have there ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow, your kids are really lucky! You must have put in so much effort to put together those lovely lunch sets :)

Anonymous said...

U sure put in a lot of effort to prepare the meals for your kids, they're so lucky! :)

Unknown said...

Hee... can I pop by some day?

Maybe try chicken macaroni next week? It's a simply and yummy dish.

Happy Homebaker said...

Kristin, Hazel, Elyn, these are rather easy meals to put together, other than the rice balls that require a little extra effort, the others can be done in 30mins. Sometimes I feel guilty making these kind of "express" meals for the kids ;)

Jace, yes! chicken macaroni! thanks for the idea :) I have tried making both the Chinese style (with clear chicken & veg soup) and the Western style (baked cheesey macaroni) kids prefer the latter.

Brilynn said...

The rice balls are so pretty! Great pics!

food makes me happy said...

You are making me hungry.

Small Small Baker said...

Wow! So colourful and delicious! Hope to see more home-cooked dishes from you so that I can learn to cook too. ;P

Happy Homebaker said...

dear Brilynn, thanks :)

Hi Cindy.Lo. thanks for dropping by!

Lousy baker, lolz, you won't want to learn from me...I am a Lousy Cook ;D

Yvonne said...

all the 3 sets look positively gorgeous and yummy!

*stomach grumbles*

Anne said...

Everything you've made is just wonderful! I salute your effort in being creative when it comes to meals of your kids :)

Aimei said...

Your pictures are always so colourful and your meals so enticing! How did you make the rice balls? I have a triangular mould like yours and I tried one time but fail. All the rice just dropped out in a mash.. :P Do i need to specially buy jap short grain rice and put vinegar?

Btw, I just tried the yogurt cake yesterday. It's yummy although mine was a abit ugly. I like that it has no butter, healthier. Shall post it on my blog soon. Thanks for sharing such nice and easy-to-make recipe. :)

Anonymous said...

Your kids are so lucky to have a mom who makes such tasty, healthy, and beautiful food for them!

Happy Homebaker said...

Ai Mei, for the rice balls, you will need to use short grain rice...if you don't want to get a big pack, you can get one brand that comes in a small pack. It's from Auustralia, think it's only 1kg (I got it from Sheng Shiong). You will need to soak the rice in water for about half an hr before cooking. You should use rice vinegar to make it more flavourful, but sometimes I omit it(too lazy!).

Lynn, thanks! but taste wise it's far from good...I fortunate to have kids that are not fusy eaters.

The Health Conscious Shopper said...

u r so humble! i think u r such a great cook and i love reading your posts, recipes and pictures!!

Anna said...

This post has left me in awe... I cook for my family most weekday nights but I never put this much effort in! (I whack it on a plate and stick it in front of them basically, haha).

I love the rice balls especially ^__^. So jealous of your kids!

Anonymous said...

how exactly did you make the rice balls (ingredients and all)?
Is the recipe on your site somewhere perhaps? I have always wanted to make onigiri!!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Anonymous, I have not posted a specific recipe for onigiri. Basically I just cooked Japanese rice (short grains) using my rice cooker and fill it with the fillings, or mix the rice with the fillings. You can refer to this site on how to make a onigiri (, hope this helps :)

Anonymous said...

Your meals are just basically: refined white flour, sugar, fat and carbohydrates. Ever heard of protein, fiber, vitamins, anti-oxidants? It is sad to see that you're basically feeding your kids with a home version of Mcdonald's "kid friendly" high sugar and junk food. For pete's sake, give them something nutritious. Soba noodles (carbs) + white rice (carbs) = sugar overdose in blood and NO nutrition.

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Anonymous, are you a local? If not, just like to let you know, we grow up eating rice, porridge and noodles, lots of carbohydrates in our daily meals. We eat out on weekends, and we even have breakfast or lunch at Mcdonald's once in a while. I am definitely not a good mother as my kids get to eat chocolates and chips as treats. But, they are strong and healthy, of average height and weight and they are not obese. Will like to seek your professional advice: I also feed them wholegrain bread, oats, mixture of white and brown rice, lots of fruits and vegetables, fish and chicken, are these considered healthy and nutritious food?

Anonymous said...

Dear hhb,
After reading the "anonymous" mean comments abt your recipes, I feel a prick in my heart to write to you. Thought just to drop you a note of encouragement, hope you won't be affected by that and spoil your day.

I'm a sahm of 4 and constantly try my best to feed my kids, wholesome, healthy, creative, home made meals, may it be a "copied" version of macs or pizza or jap food( all refined white flour or sugar or fats or carbs), at least i know i don't compromise in my selection of ingredients and have a balanced diet. And i know you do, judging from your recipes.

You don't have to publish my comments and I hope you have a great day ahead.

I'm an avid reader of your blog. Your recipes are easy to follow. Please keep them coming :)


Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Cassie, can I give you a big hug please?!!

Thanks so much for your kind words of encouragement, I feel like I am basking in the sun despite a gloomy morning :) I do get this kind of comments once in a while, that's part and parcel of blogging.

I think as SAHMs, the greatest challenge is for us to whip up meals which are delicious, healthy, and yet able to cater to the varied preferences and taste-buds of everyone in the family (you have more people to satisfy than me!). Meal planning has never been easy, we need to take into account the nutritious value, variety, and even the budget. Whole grains and organic food doesn't come cheap. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries (high in anti-oxident), kiwi fruits are expensive unless they are on discounts. Like you, I can only compensate by buying fresh ingredients and use less fat and salt in my cooking. I used to grow up having just plain porridge and soya sauce for lunch, chicken is only on the table during the festive seasons, so I think what my kids are eating now is so much better.

Pardon my ramblings, I don't have friends who are SAHMs, it is not easy to get others to understand what we are going thru. and thanks for reading my blog :)

Anonymous said...

My dear hhb,
Big hugs to you too! So sorry that you got such awful comments. Please don't bother about them.
Yes, i agree with you totally about whipping up a meal for the different needs and tastebuds of our dear kids( i have an asthmatic child that i have to be careful of what i feed her, lest it triggers her asthma)

I must say that your blog readership is large and i can see that they are all very very supportive of you. You are indeed very creative and generous to share your baking journey with us folks, what's more, the pictures are so well taken and language so well-written.
You are a good and patient mother who loves to involve your boys in your cooking.It's a bonding time that i have learned from you.
I have tried your many recipes( breads, pasta, cakes, muffins etc) and my family has given "thumbs up"

So dear hhb, cheer up.I read that you have a child taking PSLE, must be stressful on you too.Hope everyday will be a sunshine day for you


Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Cassie, my elder child used to be asthmatic too. He has upper tract respiratory problems. He has since 'out-grow' the asthmatic problem, but he is still allergic to dust, dust mite. His nose is still very sensitive. When he was much younger, he was on ventolin for so long...and I even gave him singulair (one tablet was $2, 10 yrs ago) for months. I was so familiar with the type of medicines, at one point I actually felt proud to be able to guess correctly the kind of medicines the doctor was going to prescribe! He also went for TMC, and he loved drinking those Chinese medicines, can you believe it?!!
So, I totally know what it is the right type of food to prevent any triggers. I used to blame myself whenever he fell sick, I thot it must be the type of food I gave him, or I didn't take proper care of him. I am sure you know the extend mothers have to do to keep our children healthy.

Yes, yes, I am feeling very stressed up trying to solve P6 maths problem, despite the fact that Maths is my best subject when I was in school!
Thanks for hearing me out :)

Anonymous said...

Hey hhb,

I was looking for great lunch ideas for dh and kids and saw your post.
The onigiri looks so cute and professionally made and I want to give it a try. And my girls love soba.
You have planned a very nutritious and well-balanced diet which comprises all the food groups( proteins, fibres( fruits & veg),vitamins, anti oxidant etc), which I am puzzled why the anonymous person said otherwise! Nevertheless, ignore that!

Just want to tell you that you are doing a great job.
p/s:went to phoon huat hougang to get that vanilla essence you mentioned :),been looking around for good cinnamon powder, any recommendation?

Gooday, cupcake

Anonymous said...


I just saw the above comments. I agree that the comment was very harsh and uncalled for, but the actual facts within the comment are not completely untrue. I am a follower of your blog (I'm not a blogger), and a SAHM as well, to one child. Whilst I have noticed that your kids do have a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, there are a lot of refined carbohydrates (mainly in the form of sugar and white flour) and processed foods in their diet. Even though their diet does not consist of this alone, it does seem to have a daily presence in their diet. This could have a bad affect on their health as they grow up, and even in adulthood such as diabeties, heart problems etc.

I'm not perfect, either. I do give my son fromage frais that contains sugar, but only because my local supermarket doesn't sell one without. Kids are very receptive to healthy diets, as long as we're consistent and firm. Their first few years are very important for their mental and physical development, so a completely healthy diet is quite essential. Particularly their main meals such as breakfast, lunch and dinner.

You neither asked for this advice, nor was it part of the original post... but as a loving mother I'm sure you can appreciate it.

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi there, thank you for your comments. I appreciate it! Yes, like I mentioned in my latest post, I agree with that comment to a certain extent.

I am not trying to make excuses or to justify why I am giving this kind of food to my kids. The thing is, over at this part of the world, our diet consists mainly of rice, noodles, and white bread. In fact, plain white rice is our main staple.

It was only these recent years that we get to see more varieties of commercially made wholemeal or multi-grain bread available in the market. In the past, we eat only plain white soft bread. You will be surprised that most of the local bakery stores here are selling bread and buns made with white flour, you can hardly find a bun that is made with wholemeal flour at the neighbourhood store.

To increase the intake of complex carbohydrates, I compensate by cooking a mixture of white and brown rice, and I was lucky that they have no problem eating it now. When my kids started eating solid food by 6 months old, I grind brown rice into smaller grains and used it to cook porridge with grind dried anchovies (for the calcium) to feed them. They have lots of fish, such as cod fish, salmon in their diet.

Ever since my kids started to acquire the taste of wholemeal bread, I have stopped buying plain white loaves. I have also started tweaking recipes to introduce wholemeal or oats in the bakes I made.

Believe me, my kids learned about the food pyramid in pre-school. They know what is healthy food, and they even lamented that why is it healthy food just doesn't taste as good, whereas those unhealthy ones are so delicious. They constantly do the 'policing' at home...last week, my younger child screamed when he saw me measuring out 100g of sugar to make a batch of muffins. He almost freak out at the amount of sugar used, and declared that we are going to get diabetes if we were to eat those muffins. They will patiently scoop up spoonful by spoonful of the layer of oil from their favourite bowl of laska before they eat it.

Anonymous said...

Lol @ getting diabeties form the sugar. Your children sound well-educated and sensible. :) I am from the UK, so naturally the types of food here are different. It sounds like you are trying hard, and it also sounds helpful that your kids are not fussy eaters. Thank you for not taking my comment the wrong way.

p.s. I do like to try out your recipes as a treat for me and my husband once in a while (my son is only 1 years old, so none for him lol). Keep up the good work. <3

Anonymous said...

Well nothing beats a home cooked meal! Kudos to you who lovingly try to replicate "outside" food into healthy scrumptious home made versions. I mean, who can find real blue berry/strawberry muffins in the bakery? If there is, it'll be expensive! Home made, hand rolled prata egg roll, blue berry pancake, wholemeal pizzas, just to name a few, this blog has it all.

The other extreme will be people who are so paranoid with their food intake. I had an encounter with this lady with a teenage son. She saw my 3 yr old son eating yoghurt, came up to me,rolled her eyes and whispered 'hey, you better not feed your son this stuff, it has milk.. bla bla.."
This lady drinks walnut smoothies for meals.

Each time when her teen son sees others enjoying a pack of nachos or chips during a gathering, he'll be literally swallowing his saliva..not kidding.
As much as I want my children to be health-conscious and healthy, I definitely do not want them to grow up "mentally-hungry" or "yao1 gui4"( hokkien for hungry ghost) for these occasional treats.

Cheerios, Anne( a silent reader)

Happy Homebaker said...

I appreciate your kind understanding that there is a great difference in the kind of food we eat due to the cultural differences. and just to add on, I make muffins instead of cupcakes laden with frosting, and I could never bring myself to frost a cake with fondant or royal icing. My kids don't grow up drinking soda. Milk and plain water is their daily beverage. They do not eat sugar laden cornflakes or cereals, but they do have either fish or chicken porridge almost every week. My blog posts are just snap shots of what we had at that point in time...their diet changes as they grow older, what I have written almost 3 years ago may not give a fair representation of the present. Anyway, from now on, I will seriously think twice before I post anything up and thanks for dropping by :)

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Anne, I share the same view as you, I don't want my kids to become yao gui ;) I expose my kids to all types of food, but at the same time, I tell them which are the ones we should eat more, and which are the ones we should avoid or only have them as treats. They are more health conscious them me, can you believe it, they even monitor their BMIs! Thanks to the regular check-ups in school, they will compare their BMIs and see whether they are in the healthy range, my younger one is on the 'small side', and his BMI is at the 5-10th percentile, so my elder child kept reminding him to put on some 'meat', otherwise he won't do well in his NAPFA tests, he won't do well in standing broad jump, you will be amazed at those theories that they could come up with!

Tia said...

I'm so glad you're not taking it to heart what the anon poster said. I love your blog!

Jo said...

The rice balls looks great! The pics looks really cool, I am getting hungry just looking at them. Great post!

Honey Badger said...

Love the bentos! Why not you sell them to people near you? :)

emma's mummy said...

Hi, Happy home baker,

Read this post and comments for ideas of preparing meals for my three girls. I admire your courage to answer harsh anonymous comments clearly with your detailed viewpoints. It's courage of a mother! Love your blog!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi emma's mummy, thank you for taking your time to leave your kind comments :) still hurts a little whenever I am reminded of this comment. I even wrote two posts on this ^^!

emma's mummy said...

The heart 心意 that a mummy puts into preparing a delicious and appealing food matters. Your kids will have pleasure of eating 吃福。

I have a neighbor who is on organic vegan diet. Not only they can afford to buy all organic/natural ingredients including detergents and washing powder, his son's organic paper diapers are flew over from hong kong. But since half a year ago, his two year old son refused to eat nothing but take-away fried meat and turns very skinny now. It is probably rare.

But I wonder how kids feel if mummy prepares food with fear and calculation. Hehe........ healthy food and healthy mind is still important.

Thank you for creating such a wonderful blog!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi emma's mummy, as parents we want to give the best to our children, but it is not easy to strike a balance. So as long as we eat in moderation, expose them to a variety of food I think we are fine. I agree healthy food and healthy mine is very important :):)

emma's mummy said...

Hi, Happy Homebaker

Thanks very much for sharing your views! I will try harder to use wholemeal flour and brown sugar instead, hehe....... I can't afford more, but I better toilet train my girls early to save diaper costs. ^_^