Filling school lunch boxes for families can be a difficult task at the best of times, it becomes even harder when you have kids that need nutritious, energy filled snacks to sustain them throughout the day.
Working Perth mum, Erin Corner, has always struggled to find healthy, tasty snacks in the supermarkets and found that many mothers at her children's primary school were the same, so she created Bake Sw@p.
"I decided to take some time out and I discovered that the challenge of everyday, trying to fill a lunch box with healthy things that my kids would actually eat, took up a huge amount of time," says Erin. "So I thought, 'there must be a better way' because it's just a lunch box right?"
Bake Sw@p is an app and website that allows you to create a 'circle' whereby parents bake lunch box snacks at home and swap them with parents and children at school to help fill their lunch boxes for the week.
"If you can get a group of friends together and everybody just bakes one thing and you all swap one thing each, you end up with this amazing stock of different, delicious things," says Erin.
She admits that the morning tea or recess snacks are the hardest of the lunch box filling process because "it's that bit that gets them from breakfast, which is ages ago and lunch, which is fair bit of time away."
Erin runs a Bake Sw@p at her children's primary school in the carpark on a Tuesday morning with around nine other parents and their children. "We are already all there, we're all dropping off our kids, we drop them off to their classrooms and within five minutes, we've all got our lovely things and are on our way home with this amazing bounty of baked treats, for our kids - and then for the rest of the week the lunch box is sorted," says Erin.
The participating children get to choose nutritious, homemade snacks out of the 'Bake Box' before running off to their classrooms to commence their day, and busy parents such as Erin can relax knowing that they have their lunch box snacks sorted for the week.
Narelle Warren, an original Bake Sw@p mum in Erin's 'Bake Circle', says that it is a really helpful and efficient way of filling her children's lunch boxes.
"I've found that for the rest of the week, I am organised, and doing the lunch boxes is much easier and you're filling them with nutritious food not processed items," she says.
Like Erin, the mum-of-three agrees that nutritious morning tea snacks are the hardest to come by, "With my family, what I tend to find, is that recess time is when they eat the most, so they will have their fruit and, we generally have things in our circle that are quite substantial that they have at morning tea time."
"It means that you are assured that they're not eating cupcakes or BBQ shapes or Tiny Teddies and things like that instead of eating nutritious snacks," Narelle says.
The key idea, Erin says, is nutrition. "We have amped up the health benefits so we reduce the sugar, use alternatives to refined sugar wherever we can and we use beautiful ingredients like Quinoa flakes. So what we've done is spent a lot of time using and incorporating really healthy ingredients that are really easy to come by - you can get them at Coles," she says.
By home baking your children's lunch box snacks it is assuring you that they are eating nutritious, healthy and tasty treats that are also affordable and more efficient, which is the total aim of Bake Sw@p.
The app does all the hard work for you - it organises who is participating in each swap by sending personal emails, it sends the menu to all participants and it reminds you of what day the Bake Sw@p will occur.
"It handles everything centrally," says Erin, "The key to it is the variety, and that's the beauty of hooking up to it with 6 or 7 or 8 of your friends, because you get 8 different things - which is just absolute gold.
The website contains various healthy kid and Bake Sw@p friendly recipes, which anyone can access. The app requires a subscription of $2 a month when users participate in a baking circle.