Lunch box friendly recess treats to make

Basic muffin recipe
Basic muffin recipe Photo: Nicole Avery

I don't think there are many of us who wouldn't have fond memories of opening up their school lunch box and smiling with glee to find a home cooked delicious treat to eat for our recess snack.

Creating the same memory for our kids doesn't have to be complex or time consuming, nor do you have to have a long list of recipes to churn through.

Having just a few failsafe recipes up your sleeve means you can whip something up quickly with minimal effort for maximum results.

Seed and date balls
Seed and date balls Photo: Nicole Avery

Here are some recipes that are a hit with our kids and you can use as a base to tweak to your own kids' personal preferences, providing them something delicious for recess:

Basic muffin recipe

This recipe is perfect to get the kids in the kitchen with you to cook. It is simple but provides lots of opportunities for kids to learn basic kitchen skills and also work on maths concepts like fractions at the same time.

Base ingredients:

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup canola oil or melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs


Preheat oven to 180°C and place patty pans in muffin trays. This recipe will make 15 muffins.


Into a medium size mixing bowl, add flour and sugar then make a well in the middle. In a separate bowl/jug mix vanilla, eggs, milk and oil. Pour the liquid ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. Muffins are best when made quickly and not over mixed.

Here is where you can add additional flavourings. You can try:

  • 2 tbsp cacao powder for chocolate muffins
  • ¾ cup white choc chips and ¾ cup frozen raspberries
  • ¼ cup poppy seeds, 1 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp lemon rind
One bowl cake recipe
One bowl cake recipe Photo: Nicole Avery

Mix the new ingredients lightly with a wooden spoon and then spoon mixture into patty pans. Bake for 12 -15 minutes testing with a skewer to check if they are ready. Muffins will be ready if you push a skewer into the middle of the muffin and it comes out clean.

Once cooked remove immediately from muffin trays and allow to cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container.

Seed and date balls

Seed and date balls are super easy to make. You could use sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or a combination of both. You can also make them a little more fancy by coating them in either sesame seeds or desiccated coconut once you have rolled them into balls. You can also give them a chocolate edge by adding a tablespoon of cacao powder to them before processing.


  • 1 cup seeds
  • 1 cup dates


Place seeds and dates into the food processor and blend. Blend for a few minutes, scrape the mixture from down the sides of the food processor and blend again. Do this a couple of times until the mixture is soft and sticks together. To test if the mixture is ready, spoon out a chunk and squeeze it with your hands. If it stays together easily then it is ready.

Turn the mixture out into a mixing bowl, then take a heaped tablespoon of mixture and work it into a ball. Place into an airtight container and continue this process until all of the mixture has been used.  

Place in the fridge for a couple of hours to set. These balls are best kept in the fridge and can also be kept in the freezer. You can make larger quantities of this recipe easily if needed, just keep the same ratio, for example 2 cups seeds, 2 cups dates.

One bowl cake recipe

Not only is this cake a hit with the kids, but it can be made quickly and with very little mess! The ingredients below are to make a chocolate cake, but you could easily sub out the cacao powder and add another teaspoon of vanilla to make it a vanilla cake or sub out the cacao powder and add in one mashed banana to make a banana cake.


  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g butter, melted
  • ½ cup milk


Preheat the oven to 180°C, then line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper. In a medium sized bowl, add all of ingredients. Using an electric mixer, beat on high for mix for 2-3 minutes. The batter should become lighter in colour and have a fluffy appearance.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40 - 45 minutes. Remove the cake from oven and allow it cool in the pan for five minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Store in an air tight container once completely cooled.

Nicole Avery is a Melbourne mum to five beautiful kids. She is the master organiser behind the popular parenting blog Planning With Kids and the author of a book by the same name, where she shares tips and tricks for organising the chaos of family life.

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