19 March 2024

Sick of making school lunchboxes? Bakery’s ingenious idea for time poor parents sees them inundated

| Kellie O'Brien
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Robyn Jason Caldwell

Robyn and Jason Caldwell, who have come up with the idea for a pre-made school lunchbox. Photos: Supplied.

Time poor parents in the Illawarra have been given a hassle-free solution to the daily chore of preparing school lunchboxes, thanks to a creative initiative from Coniston Bakery.

Owner Robyn Caldwell recently shared a photo on Facebook showing their new pre-made school lunchboxes with a message to busy parents that they “have your kid’s lunches sorted”.

“That post reached 850,000 people which shows the level at which parents are time poor and how they want something that is healthy, caters for their needs and is cost efficient and that’s what we were aiming for,” Robyn said.

“These ideas all come from what we need and what we like.”

As a busy mum herself, Robyn has long had the idea for creating pre-made school lunchboxes that parents could purchase from the bakery business.

However, with her husband Jason having worked in the business for the past 12 years while she was a stay-at-home mum, she’s only been able to implement the idea this year as their roles have reversed.

“Our kids go to school just around the corner from our Farmborough Road shop and so many times I’ve been driving out of our driveway and ring the shop and say, ‘Hey, can you make me a pizza, a cheese and bacon roll and a ham and cheese sandwich, please?'” she said.

“So I’d pick up their lunches on the way to school.”

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After the change of roles, she saw the time pressure to feed kids good quality food in other working parents too.

“There’s another lady who has kids and I’d be going out on deliveries, and she’d ask, ‘Oh, can you just swing past my place and drop off sandwiches to my girls?’” she said.

“Everyone’s so pushed for time and working more because of the cost of living.”

She said the lunchboxes catered for a full day at school, including crunch and sip, recess and lunch.

“My Ruby, she loves hummus and carrot sticks and celery sticks, so we’ve got that for the crunch and sip, there’s sliced-in-half grapes, there’s biscuits and cheese, there’s a smiley cupcake and a cheese and bacon roll,” she said.

“So many parents on the post said, ‘Stuff the kids, I’m having that for myself,’” she said, laughing.

Coniston Bakery lunchboxes

Coniston Bakery is known for its pastries.

And parents do order it for themselves, along with teachers.

“One of the main reasons it’s become so popular is because yes, parents are time poor and they rely on the school canteen, but lots of schools don’t have the school canteen every day of the week,” she said.

“We’ve priced it at a point where it’s really economical.

“For $12, kids are fed for a day – they’ve got their crunch and sip, their recess, and their lunch.

“I know just for a lunch order at school, it’s over $10.”

Plus, she said it was packaged well, with many loving the look of the pre-made lunchbox.

Robyn said while orders fluctuated, there was a trend for more orders at the end of the week.

“I know for us, we do a shop on the weekends,” she said.

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“So towards the end of the week everyone’s getting more tired because they’ve had their soccer training and swimming lessons and everyone’s reached a point where they go, ‘You know what, just get a lunch order today’ or ‘Let’s call into the bakery and grab your lunch on the way through’.

“It’s much more popular during the end of the week as everyone’s carrot sticks are getting a little bit older and a little bit more scarce.”

While some phone in their orders, most popped into the bakery to pick up the pre-made lunchboxes already in stock.

“Some schools are going to be using it as a fundraiser, because they’ve recognised that it’s priced really economically,” she said of schools having a Coniston Bakery Day and adding a few dollars to the price of the lunchboxes to raise funds.

The post also attracted the attention of Wollongong City Council, which had lunchboxes made with lamingtons, rolls, quiches, choc chip biscuits and salad to cater for a large event.

Coniston Bakery is renowned for its pastries, with its pies often used for pie drives, along with custom cake making.

“We’re very into looking at supporting the community, so if we can help the community by providing for pie drives so they can raise some more funds, then we’re right into that,” she said of having long sponsored grassroots sports.

You can find Coniston Bakery at 134 Gladstone Avenue, Coniston and on Facebook.

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