Back 2 School Lunch Box Hacks for a smooth start to the school year

It’s that time of the year again and although I thoroughly enjoy the freedom that the summer brings, especially as the children get older and become more independent, I have to admit I look forward to the routine that back to school brings.

Remember (or perhaps it’s your first time round) it does take a week or two to get into the swing of it; making lunches, having dinner on the table every evening, school runs, play dates and of course homework.  All in all it’s a busy time.

It is worth the effort of getting that routine in place as soon as possible and believe it or not children thrive on routine and what's more it is good for them apparently!  They say an organised home and predictable environment helps children feel safe and secure and allows them to learn more. 

With this in mind I would like to share some of my tips to help in achieving a smooth transition from summertime to the back-to-school routine by sharing some fail-safe recipes and ideas to take the chore out of healthy lunch boxes for you and your kids.  Having a great tasty lunch box will make your child's entire lunch experience so much better so ask them what they want and what they don't want (it will save money, waste and time). 

  • Plan in advance, and where possible get organised the night before – for example make up ham or cheese sandwiches and freeze them. By the time your child is ready to eat them at lunch the next day they are perfectly defrosted and totally FRESH!
  • Variety is the spice of life – so vary your child's lunch box menu from day to day.  Think pitta one day, crackers another, wholemeal bread, bagel or a wrap and that’s the week covered.
  • For snacks and sides think fruit – fresh or dried, veg - cucumber and carrot sticks are always a winner and of course rice cakes or yoghurt.
  • Be mindful of nut allergies - a lot of schools have a no nut policy these days.
  • Get your children involved in preparing their own snacks and drinks in the morning it is good training and will help relieve some of the pressure from you.

Be sure to check in on the website next week for my midweek back 2 school meal recipe!

Try these delicious courgette and corn muffins, one of my archived recipes from the RTE Guide that I often use, always goes down a treat!  The Cucumber Sailboats are a great after school snack for younger kids.   

back to school

Fresh Garden Produce

Having grown up on a farm, I can really appreciate the source of our daily ingredients and actively think about the way our food is produced.

You really get a sense of being back to nature when growing your own garden produce and it’s so lovely to be able to make family meals knowing that you have grown and picked your ingredients yourself.

Summer is such a great time of year for producing, light, juicy fruit and vegetables such as yellow and green beans, beetroots, peppers, butternut squash, melons, tomatoes and many more!

Here at Ballyknocken Cookery School we have a large vegetable garden and an exotic herb garden which supplies seasonal home grown ingredients to the guesthouse and cookery school.

We also have a new polytunnel, which is doing wonders especially with this exceptionally warm weather we’ve been having , Mark our head gardener has been kept very busy in there and only has good things to report back!BLOG CAT


 lamb cat

Having grown up on a sheep farm here in Wicklow, I can vouch for the benefits of the weather, which produces the ultimate grazing conditions for sheep.  Our lambs head to the hills in the summer where they enjoy all the hardy wild herbs and hedgerows before returning to the lowlands for early autumn to enjoy the rich grass and this is the case for much of the lamb farmed in Europe.  In fact it is one of the most naturally reared animals available and the results are appreciated by all in cuisines across the Continent. The tenderness, sweetness and subtle flavours are second to none and translate so well to so many preparations and styles.

What I love about lamb is that cooked simply, it’s always so tasty but it also takes additional flavours so well.  Here I wanted to share a delicious and easy meal in minutes of Lamb Cutlets served with Tzatziki. It’s prepared with some Mediterranean flavours of oregano, thyme and lemon and served with mint and rosemary.  All of these herbs grow very successfully in our herb garden here at the cookery school but I suggest that you use the herbs that you have – for example rosemary and fennel work well here too.  Try these cutlets midweek on the grill or BBQ.  Serve them accompanied with steamed or boiled new season potatoes – served hot or cold or an Italian Panzanella Salad for something different.


Buon appetito


   #LambTryItLoveIt #europeanlamb #bordbia


Lamb Cutlets with Tzatziki

Serves 4

Oregano grows very successfully in our herb garden here at the cookery school, as does thyme, so there is no reason why they won't grow in yours. These flavourful European cutlets grill fabulously on the BBQ and go beautifully with an Italian Panzanella Salad for something different this summer.

3–4 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped

2–3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

Irish rapeseed oil

100g feta, crumbled

12 small to medium lamb cutlets or 8 large cutlets, French trimmed

2 medium courgettes, sliced lengthways into ribbons

Fresh rosemary sprigs, to garnish

Fresh mint sprigs, to garnish

For the tzatziki:

3 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

½ cucumber, diced

4 tbsp natural yogurt

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix together the oregano and thyme with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil. Mix 2 teaspoons of this herby oil with the feta cheese and spread the rest over the lamb cutlets.

Heat a chargrill pan. Brush the courgette ribbons with rapeseed oil on both sides. Once the pan is hot, place the courgettes in the pan and cook for about 1 minute on each side. Set aside and keep warm.

Place the cutlets in the hot chargrill pan and cook for 3–4 minutes on each side, depending on how you like them.

Combine all the ingredients for the tzatziki in a small bowl.

This is a sponsored post in conjunction with Bord Bia to help promote #lambtryitloveit, a campaign highlighting the benefits of cooking with European lamb. For more recipe inspiration, follow @trylamb on Facebook and Instagram.

bord bia 4

Lords and Ladles on Netflix


Netflix and grill? Fry? Saute, bake, boil, poach, roast or toast? How about all of the above! Lords and Ladles Season 1 is available on popular streaming service Netflix in the USA.

Join Derry Clarke, Paul Flynn and I as we recreate succulent foods in stunning locations. We visit some of Irelands iconic country manors, like the jaw dropping Castle Leslie in Co.Monaghan. The show will excite with a host of exquisite banquets from times gone by and the simply sensational scenery on offer from the opulent country manors in which they are re-created!

If you want to catch up with the adventure so far Season 1, 2 and 3 are available on the RTE player! The final Episode of Season 3 aired on RTE One last night. 

We’ve had such fun making this programme and hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

                                                                                                                BLOG PIC 1

Upcoming Demos

Limerick Stop Food Waste Demo9 11 17 LCCC Catherine Fulvio LIT 17

This summer you will catch Catherine demonstrating at:

Teagasc Sheep 2018: Farm to Fork event in Athenry on Saturday 7th July.

Catherine will be demonstrating twice during the day at 12noon and at 2pm

The event will take place in Teagasc, Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway on Saturday, 7th July 2018 starting 10.00am and finishing at 5.00pm.

Taste of Donegal Sunday 26th August 2018 at 3.00pm.

This year Taste of Donegal will be celebrating its 10th festival with promises to be a bigger and better than before.

Teagasc Demo CF


Catherine Fulvio's Diary

Diary & News


This Month:-

See Catherine cook!: 

3rd June - Bloom in the Park

See website for details :-

Television series 

 'Tastes like home' series 2 is currently airing on Mondays RTE One 8:30pm - please note applications to feature on the show are now being taken! All the episodes are still available

You can still view Catherine's 'Family kitchen' series and 'Lords and Ladles' on the RTE Player.

Hear Catherine speak!

Radio interviews ; dates to be announced

Speaking engagements; dates to announced

Read Catherine's articles & recipes!

Follow her RTE Guide column weekly - for those who still prefer a paper recipe to drop crumbs on! 

Aside from the recipes & video posted on this website, you can also access Catherine's lovely videos & recipes on the Whirlpool website:

And you can always follow Catherine on social media! 

-Twitter - @cfulvio -

- Facebook- @catherinefulviochef -

-Instagram- @catheirnefulvio_chef -



Call for entries! Apply now to Catherine Fulvio’s Tastes like Home on RTÉ One, sponsored by Londis

Call for Entries ; Tastes like Home


TLHS03 Apply Now Week 1r2


Applications open from Monday 19th March to 29th April 2018

I am delighted to announce I am back!   Thanks to Londis there will be a third series of Tastes Like Home which will be filmed over the coming months and return to your screens later in the year.  So if you want to be the next TV foodie star and have a loved one living abroad then we want to hear from you.

Food is part of our culture and our heritage and this is evident from the TV series, Tastes Like Home.  When we move abroad it is one of the first things we miss about home and it has been a pleasure for me to bring the distinctive flavours or Ireland to all four corners of the globe and I look forward to doing it again in series three!

So far the Show has visited Irish families far and near from South Korea to London and Canada to South Africa with dishes including a mouthwatering seafood platter of smoked scallops and lobster, to a traditional fish pie with a twist and a very Irish nettle and leek soup.  We all have a dish that awakens the very best of memories, and we want you to share yours with the nation!   I will visit your loved one wherever they live, be it Hong Kong, Iceland, Poland, Wellington or Brisbane, and help them recreate the dish that "Tastes Like Home".

Successful applicants will host me in their home and teach me how to whip up their gastronomical delight. i'll then visit their loved one abroad, taking viewers on a whistle-stop tour of their home away from home, before helping to re-create the dish that for them, tastes like home.

Applications are open until the 29th April and you should be available for filming in May/June 2018, any level of cooking skills is required to feature on the show. But a passion for home-made cooking is a must!


Applications are open until midnight on Sunday 29th April 2018. To apply, simply apply directly online at  or post your completed application forms to  "Tastes Like Home TV Show, C/O Another Avenue, 14 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4” or return them to your local Londis with three family favourite recipes for consideration.  RTÉ One, with the help of Londis, will recruit six successful participants from across the country.  Any level of cooking skills is required to feature on the show but a passion for home-made cooking is a must! 


"Tastes like Home was a very wholesome experience from start to finish creating a wonderful family archive for my sister,Oonagh, and I".

Ethel Power, Carrick on Suir


"Tastes Like Home was a wonderful opportunity to share our lives in a more interactive way with friends and family. For so many years we have only been able to relate our experiences of living and working thousands of miles apart in the simplest terms, feeling that few people could really understand us. From being a part of the programme we were both so happy to finally be able to show exactly what our lives are like".

Peter (Korea) & Grainne (Kildare)



Fine foodCatherine FilvioGood living


Ballyknocken House & Cookery School
Glenealy, Ashford,
Co Wicklow, A67 X720
Ireland. Tel: +353 (0)404 44627
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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