Wednesday: Mid Week Ramblings—Ideas for School Lunches
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It is so crazy to me that where I live it is back to school time, must be because winter lasted so long summer didn’t get a real chance.
So the least you can do to make it up to your kids is to send them off with some yummy healthy lunches, right?
-Pack an antipasto plate with sliced organic turkey, cubes of cheese, a favorite dip, crackers and grapes.
-Breakfast for Lunch! Vanilla yogurt with granola, raisins or your child’s favorite dried fruit mix, nuts and a peach or plum.
-Fill a wide-mouth thermos with warmed black beans and rice. Bring along tortilla chips and small container of salsa. Add a pineapple fruit cup for desert.
-Kids love mini! Mini bagels, try them with a fresh veggie/nut cream cheese. Mini sandwiches or empanadas are fun too!
-Traditional-natural peanut butter on whole wheat bread with fruit only jelly.
-Finger Foods-cold chicken legs or wings, cheese sticks, grapes or pretzels.
-Leftovers! Some yummy fried rice or stir fry from last night’s dinner.
-BLT pita with lettuce leaves, tomato slices (or cherry tomato halves), chopped cooked bacon and a small container of ranch style dressing.
-Meal of the run-assemble a bagel with cream cheese or soft goat cheese, applesauce cup and baby carrots.
-Paris-half baguettes, a small piece of brie, sliced meals and olives or small pickles.
-Rainbow Lunch-green spinach salad, red cherry tomatoes, yellow cheddar, blueberries and orange slices.
-Chickpea salad, toss with cucumber chunks, feta cheese and a little vinaigrette. Serve with tabouli and fruit salad.
-Not the Norm Sammie-Use focaccia bread, English muffin or sour dough roll
-Save packets of soy sauce and pack with cold soba noodles tossed with cubed leftover chicken, water chestnuts and shredded carrots.
-Salmon Salad or Smoked Salmon and cream cheese served on crackers.
-Bowtie Pasta Salad made with broccoli, sliced pork or chicken, baby corn and sesame dressing.
-Make a certain day favorite day and always pack it with your child’s favorite sandwich, snack or fruit.
-Use a thermos to keep things cool like gazpacho and bring along slices of ham, cheese and country bread.
-Bring chili in a thermos with cornbread and shredded cheese.
-Make a Bento Lunch Box
-Whole wheat tortilla wraps (filled with deli meat and cheese or peanut butter and dried fruit)
-Italian Theme-pizza quesadilla or tomato cheddar soup, tortellini
-Mediterranean Theme-hummus and spinach wrap, cherry tomatoes with string cheese and yogurt
-Mexican Theme-baked corn chips, black beans, cheese wedges and fresh pico de gallo with jicama sticks
-Asian Theme-whole wheat or buckwheat noodles with peanut sauce, sugar snap peas, a pear, almonds and a fortune cookie. Tuna salad with grated carrots, served with crackers or in a pita.
-Fruit Kabobs-assorted colors of melon balls and other fruits on a bamboo skewer, served with yogurt for dipping.
Make Your Own Healthy Lunchables (idea from Whole Foods)
Assembly Line Lunch Prep
Creating your own healthier version of convenient little lunch packs is simple and quick. If you make several at a time, the “assembly line” method will have you done lickety split. Involve your kids in the process — let them pack their own lunch or have them pack your lunch while you make theirs! Here’s what you need:
Here’s the general line up, but substitutions are highly encouraged:
- nitrite-free sliced deli meat (or meat alternative)
- organic or non-dairy cheese slices
- small square or round crackers without hydrogenated oils (or rice crackers)
- organic fruited apple sauce or organic raisins
- dill pickle halves (optional)
These are just the tip of the iceberg. Be creative. Better yet, invite your child to help choose all the components of a healthful lunch.
- soy chocolate pudding for the applesauce
- grapes, sliced peaches, pineapple chunks or other fresh fruit for the applesauce
- string cheese for the slices
- carrot sticks for the pickle
- grilled chicken chunks for the deli slices
- sesame sticks for the crackers & hummus dip for the applesauce
- little cookies for the crackers
- cherry tomatoes for the pickle
- celery sticks for the pickle & natural ranch dip for the applesauce
- thawed cooked & peeled baby shrimp for the deli slices
- an invitation to see a movie or promise of a shopping trip instead of the note
- a photo of a favorite pet instead of the note
For each lunchbox consider the following:
- square shallow “large sandwich size” resealable plastic container
- small “condiment size” resealable plastic container
- plastic spoon (if using applesauce)
- colorful cocktail size napkin
- a fun personal note or a joke or cartoon on a slip of paper
- Cut a deli slice and a slice of cheese each into four equal-size squares.
- Stack deli meat in one corner and cheese in another corner of the square container.
- Stack 4–6 crackers in a third corner.
- Place the little cup of apple sauce or raisins in the final corner.
- If there’s room for a pickle in a zipper bag, put that in the middle.
- Add the spoon, then top with the colorful napkin.
- Place the note or joke or cartoon on top. Seal and refrigerate.
- Kids like to help assemble; each child with an assignment in the line.
- Maybe someone else in the family wants to provide the surprise note or joke.
- Label the containers with wash-off markers to indicate whose is whose.
- Decorate containers with a sticker each child will like.
- Don’t forget the napkin! It helps absorb moisture to keep the crackers crisp.
- If crackers tend to get soggy, wrap in plastic or foil before loading in the container.
- Keep it fun, personal and tasting good!