Today’s post is a part two for Mary Donkersloot’s tips on successful and tasty lunches for kids heading back to school.
Yesterday we chatted about what foods I packed (and didn’t pack in my son’s lunch). Today, I’ll share more about how to make successful lunches.
The first trick to a successful lunch is to find foods kids enjoy. The second trick is to avoid repeating any one food so often that he no longer enjoys it! (“Mom – I’m sick of that!!”) Here are some of my strategies:
Brown bag sandwiches ideas: Egg salad, chicken salad, sliced turkey, roast beef, ham or peanut butter Add an apple, yogurt, veggies sticks or other nutrient-rich choices (pack separately, so foods don’t get mushy).
What could be easier than two pieces of bread with something in the middle? Even at 6 AM, it’s not that difficult to manage.
Bread: Of course, it’s best to look for a whole grain as the first ingredient. You’re doing even better, if it says stoneground, wheat berry, sprouted or flourless. If you start your kids on whole grains early in life, they’ll be accustomed to the taste and texture. If not, you may have a battle on your hands. Compromise– send a baguette or sourdough bread one day and whole grain bread the next. Keep it interesting by using tortillas, English muffins or whole grain crackers. If the whole grain is never going to happen, don’t go to war over it. Make a trade-white bread instead of chips or grains containing added sugars, like muffins or bars.
Spreads: Give your sandwich a little moisture from a variety of spreads – bbq sauce, pesto, ketchup, canola oil mayonnaise, or vinaigrette dressing. Guacamole is great with chicken — mashed avocado with lime and freshly chopped garlic with a little salt. Hummus works well with cheese or vegetables.
Buy at your market, premade ideas:
- Meatloaf with a side of ketchup, a bowl of corn, and a bit of bread with olive oil
- Bean and cheese, chicken, beef burritos
- Pot stickers, side of peas, toasted bread, hard-boiled egg
- Chicken, beef or veggie taquitos with side of guacamole. Serve with a bag of baby carrots and a fruit
Other premade ideas with a little prep:
- Veggie burger – In nonstick pan, fry patty in vegetable oil till slightly browned on each side. Pack the condiments and bread separately. Serve with edamame beans, peas or corn, and a side of cherry tomatoes.
- Chicken tenders, side of cooked vegetable – cooked carrots drizzled with olive oil and thyme, and a side of mashed potatoes leftover from last night’s dinner
- BBQ chicken roll-up: In a tortilla, place chopped chicken, bbq sauce, a bit of mayo mixed with yogurt, green onions, and white, red or green cabbage.
- Soups: chili, lentil, split pea, tomato, butternut squash, carrot, minestrone with whole grain crackers and a few slices of cheese.
- Leftover chicken breast sliced and placed into plastic storage container, with a side of bbq sauce. Serve with apple, and crispy corn tortilla, that has been cut into strips and fried in canola oil on a pan. Wrap in paper towel and then in foil.
- Make your own “bistro” snack boxes: hard-boiled egg, small pita with individual peanut butter or hummus, grapes, apple slices, and a bit of cheese, nuts, veggies and more. Make it fun!
If my son has an after school activity, I send a snack in his lunch, often one he would share with his pals. Their favorite is a ziplock bag of cashews mixed with chocolate chips. Remind your child they’ve had their sweet treat for the day, and serve fruit as your nighttime snack. If you’re at a nut free school, try whole grain crackers with cheese.