'Sandwiches just came back uneaten in our house' - Rachel Allen on the dreaded school lunches
TV chef and author, and mum-of-three Rachel Allen knows a thing or two about making school lunches.
While, the Ballymaloe chef admits that she's had no success with sandwiches for her children, she's found her solution in flasks.
Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore this afternoon, Allen advised parents to add variety to school lunches so they "don't get boring".
"Talk to [the child] to see what they want. Weirdly, none of our children have ever taken sandwiches to school because every time I gave them, they just came back uneaten.
"I think, especially coming into winter, flasks are a great idea. You can put soup into it, last night's spaghetti bolognese, shepherd's pie, lasagne, whatever it is. I’m a fan of flasks. I tend to make flapjacks every week as well.
"Try to change it up a little bit, so it’s not the same thing every single day and it doesn’t get boring."
The celebrity chef, who just released her 14th book, said that sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and you should avoid food at bed time.
"Getting a good night's sleep is the key to being healthy. When I'm tired, that is the one time that I eat something that I shouldn't. When you get a good night sleep you feel so much better.
"You shouldn't eat for a couple hours before bed time. You could have a herbal tea before bed but that's really it."
Allen, who is working on a new travel show in Italy, says she's "busy as usual".
"I'm hoping to turn it into a family holiday. I'm working away in Ballymaloe house and working on another cookbook so it's busy as usual."
Meanwhile, RTE TV and radio presenter Kathryn Thomas, who hosted a cooking demo with Allen in association with Jaguar and Land Rover, also spoke about the pressures of balancing work and motherhood.
She said her best healthy eating tip is to look for balance.
"People think of healthy eating and they think about lettuce, tomatoes and rabbit food. Now there are so many more recipes online and different foods from around the world available to us.
"It's important to cook your own food. It's a life skill and it should be taught in schools. If you're cooking chips yourself, you know exactly what's in them. It's also important to include a lot of colour on your plate. When you go to the supermarket you should spend more time in the fruit and veg aisle than you stay in the crisps and chocolate aisle."
The Operation Transformation presenter said that people also need to control their portion sizes.
"People are eating way too much. We're eating with our eyes. Once you're full, stop eating. We need to eat slowly and eat at the table with no distractions. Put your phone down, turn off the TV. Focus on what you're eating and how much you're eating."