Back to Life, back to reality, back to MAKING SCHOOL LUNCH…
It’s strange how the regular less stressful parts of life can get so stressful. Things like running errands, paying bills, making dinner, and any mundane part of our life can derail our day if it lacks order or organization. The same is true for the dreaded, making school lunches! I get lots of emails from people asking for new ideas and hints on how to get nutritious and wholesome lunches into our children’s diets. I’m not a miracle worker but do have some success with this. Here is my strategy that saves time and aggravation…And don’t forget to see all the lunch suggestions at the bottom.
Make a list of options: With your kids, make a list of 20 potential lunches that make both you and the kids happy. See some samples below.
Plan the Week: Consult with your kids and make a plan for the week. Yes…the whole week of lunches. Choose from your list of options.
Shop: Make sure you have the ingredients and items you need in the house. No running out for ingredients on Tuesdays or picking up Sushi (that must be on the plan for that day already)
Involve: We divide up the week. I take 1-2 nights (depends on their schedules) to prepare lunches and each child alternates and takes a turn to help or take care of the lunches. My little boys participate too.
Variety: Change your list, add and delete items, but give variety!
Tip: Make sure you have the essential equipment that will help your kids enjoy the lunches. I love the resuseit insulated lunch sacks and the insulated and leek-proof food jars and thermos options. Keeping food an appropriate temperature is crucial. How would you like a cold quesadilla?
Meat sandwiches: My boys love leftover grilled or fried chicken in a sandwich. I use leftover challah or challah rolls and add thousand island dressing and lettuce. For the more adventurous, try spicy mayo, lettuce, tomato, or grilled onions or other meats, like meatballs, meatloaf, even chicken from the chicken soup, mixed with a little BBQ sauce makes a great sandwich. Sloppy Joe style cooked meat is good too.
Bagel with fix-ins: Ya know, cream cheese, lox, tomato, avocado, butter. Or add scrambled eggs and send in an insulated bag to keep it warm.
Wraps: Not the store-bought variety. This is great for homemade leftovers. We stuff them with leftover brisket, chicken, steak, meatballs, then add rice or quinoa, any dressing and a little greenery. Chummos or cooked mashed beans are delicious as add-ins too.
Yogurt Parfait: Invest in some jelly jars to make it look great. Fruit, layered with yogurt, granola or cereal, repeat it all. Looks so gorgeous all their friends will ooh and ahhh.
Quesadilla with cheese and beans: Open can of beans, simmer with a little water and salt, then mash. Melt cheese in a tortilla with some beans. Wrap in foil to keep warm-ish and send in an insulated bag.
Any and all day old soups or Chili: Soup makes awesome leftovers. Send a bag of chunky croutons alongside a thermos of soup. Pour in the top cup of the thermos, add croutons to make it a little more filling. Same for Chili.
Stuffed baked potato: Stuff a baked potato with great fillings, melted cheese, broccoli, mushrooms, salsa, or go the meat route, and add chopped deli meat with veggies. Wrap tightly in foil and send in an insulated bag.
Sushi Salad: Sushi rice mixed with imitation crab, chopped cucumber, and drizzled with both sushi sweet sauce and spicy mayo. Mix and serve. Its great room temp or cold. Keeps for days in the refrigerator.
Salads: This is my girls favorite lunch. We mix it up by using lots of different types of lettuce from romaine, kale, arrugula to cabbage and bok choy. We add lots of toppings, like veggies, cheese or grilled chicken, roasted or grilled vegetables, quinoa, brown rice, egg whites or whatever is leftover from the salad the night before. Makes lots of extra dressing.
Falafel: Stores sell it pre-made or there are many mixes available. Add chopped lettuce and tomato, and some tahini dressing. Send in an insulated bag.
Veggie Burgers: So many brands and flavors available. Great way to get some protein into a salad without being fleish. Or send it on a bun in an insulated bag.
Sushi: We usually treat ourselves one day every other week to sushi lunch, store-bought the night before.
Oatmeal: Great protein packed oatmeal cups are available now and made by many manufacturers. Send a thermos of warm water. Kids just add water and stir. I sometimes send in chopped fruit or granola to add to it to make it a little more hearty.
A few other items that are not a meal but make great additions include:
Chips and dips: salsa, guacamole, chummos, cheese, bread, veggies
Tuna fish on anything: my kids don’t like it but great in wraps, sandwiches, Bagels or atop a salad
Cheese and crackers: And add sliced apple too
Pickles: add to wraps, salads, sandwiches, who doesn’t like pickles?
Peanut butter: If your school allows this, well, you have nothing to complain about, PB&J, PB& marshmallow fluff, PB& banana, crackers, pita, celery, you name it, PB is good on it.
Send me your ideas too so that I can share them with others!