Going “Down Under” with an Easy Kid’s Lunch


Throwing together a Down Under lunch requires just a few fun ingredients. My kindergartner loves a good cheese sandwich (don’t we all!?) so this week I smeared her sandwich bread with sticky, salty yeast extract like they do in Australia and New Zealand (I couldn’t find Aussie’s preferred version, Vegemite, so I used Marmite, the version preferred in Britain and New Zealand). Let the record state: ooey gooey cheese paninis with yeast extract are also grand!

The salty smack goes a long, long way; don’t overdo it!

Ava considers Marmite

Next, leftovers came to the rescue.

On the side are leftover sweet potatoes drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. In New Zealand and parts of Australia they call sweet potatoes “kumara.”

The shining star of the meal came from the fruit basket: one shiny Granny Smith apple. These green beauties were first cultivated in Australia in 1868. What an easy, authentic addition to the lunch box.

The container came back empty, so I’d say her lunch “down under” was a success!

Tips & Tricks:

  • Ava’s lunch is vegetarian but others might enjoy tossing the sweet potatoes with bacon and green onion, as with this grilled kumara salad.
  • I found marmite at the local grocery store near the… soup. I’m not really sure what that’s about.
  • Yeast extract is hard to spread – toast the bread to make it easier.

Ava's Around the World LunchesAbout around the World Lunches

Around the World Lunches began when I shared a few of Ava’s globally-inspired lunches on Instagram and Facebook. Turns out a lot of people are looking for lunch ideas – whether for school or work.

In this regular column, I share one of our Around the World lunches with you. I give you tips, like where to find ingredients or possible substitutions. If you have ideas for lunches you’d like to see or challenges you need help dealing with, let me know in the comments!


  1. Diane says

    Marmite and cheese is a magical combo! Where I live, it’s located in the baking aisle–near the YEAST.

      • Diane says

        Actually, S–the soup aisle is not too bad a location. Marmite and boiling water can be used as a vegetarian substitute for beef broth. 🙂

        • Sasha Martin says

          Good to know! Now that I have a little vegetarian on my hand that trick is sure to come in handy!

        • Sasha Martin says

          Good to know! Now that I have a little vegetarian on my hands that trick is sure to come in handy!

  2. Kathy says

    Cheese and Vegemite is a classic! Only a light spreading of Vegemite though as its a very salty spread- I find marmite quite sweet. You can find it with the peanut butter, jams and other spreads in our Australian supermarkets.

  3. I love vegemite and cheese sandwiches and green apples, I could live off them! I have never tried marmite, but I have heard some Australian purists say marmite is gross and vegemite is the victor of all spreads. I have never heard sweet potato being called kumara, we always just call it sweet potato in QLD. Perhaps is called kumara in other parts of the country….

  4. Elizabeth Hepburn says

    I’m from Aus, and I’ve never heard the word kumara. I always called it a sweet potato.
    I don’t know about OK, but I’ve been able to find Vegemite at World Market stores in the USA. A great combo is also Vegemite and avocado. 🙂
    The cheese should be a good quality mild cheddar, not too sharp or salty, and not orange. I like the NZ cheddar at Trader Joes.
    The bread should not be sweet, like a lot of American grocery store bread is. I find that sourdough is usually a good bet, since it’s not got added sugar (usually).

  5. Hi Sasha – oh maybe you have just got a little confused between New Zealand and Australia – marmite is the preferred spread in NZ (though I am a vegemite girl and it is the Australian favourite). Aussie don’t eat that many apples, but NZer’s love and grow them. Also kumara is the NZ (Maori) word for sweet potato though Aussies do use it too – kumara are a variety of sweet potato. I am a NZer but lived in Australia for 20 years. But don’t panic about it Sasha – it could easily be an Aussie lunch box, but to me it just looks a bit more like an NZ one.

    • Sasha Martin says

      So interesting – so perhaps the best thing would just to be to call it a Down Under sort of lunch, since that could mean either!

  6. I’m in NZ and a vegemite or marmite sandwhich often makes it’s way into my son’s lunch box. To spread the vegemite or marmite more easily – butter helps ( never margarine) – but my wee guy likes vegemite and cottage cheese or vegemite, lettuce and cheddar cheese. I think someone above mentioned that it should always be spread thinly or in dabs 🙂
    Kumara makes a great cold salad with roasted garlic and red pepper btw 🙂

  7. Rebecca says

    I love this lunch idea, but I just wanted to point out that the marmite used in the UK which is the marmite you have is not the same as marmite found in New Zealand. They are both yeast spreads but are quite different from each other. 🙂

  8. Indie says

    I’m Australian and I grew up with an apple or an orange in my lunchbox. I agree with Lisa, the trick to spreading Vegemite is using butter first. Just found your website Sacha, fantastic! I gave a recipe folder and an apron to my children for Christmas- I think we will definitely be exploring your website to help us fill it!

  9. Kirsty says

    Another awesome Vegemite/marmite sandwich combo is with chips, salt and vinigar are my fav, Mum used to make a marmite sandwich and put a small packet of chips in our lunch box so we could put the chips on just before eating so they dont go soggy.

  10. Joy says

    Some people like vegemite/marmite (there are two camps and each swears their choice is the best) and butter spread on Weetbix. I find it rather dry and crumbly but it’s probably quite healthy!

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