Okay, moms (and maybe some dads too, but in my experience, it is us moms who bear the weight of school lunch responsibilities), here you go, some new approaches to school lunch boxes. If you saw my post last week, you know I've been trying to come up with a list of new ideas for your kid's school lunch.
I've heard a lot from mom's via email, facebook and (get this!) face to face conversations. Packing school lunches can be a challenge, whether you have a "I want lunchables!" daughter or a "I only eat a crustless peanut butter and jelly" son.
I've broken these ideas down into categories below, and I bet you, you have some really great ideas to share too. So, after you read my start of ideas, please comment with anything else that comes to mind!
School Lunch Box Ideas:
(All of these ideas start with the same basic approach, a whole wheat or other tortilla, with something spread on it, topped and rolled and cut into 4-6 pieces)
Pizza: marinara sauce, toppings (try sliced olives, spinach, pepperoni and/or roasted peppers) and shredded mozzarella cheese
Taco: cream cheese and salsa mixture, toppings (try shredded lettuce, diced peppers, corn, black beans and/or sliced olives) and shredded cheddar cheese
Mediterranean: hummus, diced cucumber, sliced olives
Ranch: ranch dip (try adding a bit of ranch dressing to cream cheese), shredded carrot, diced chicken, shredded cheddar cheese
Barbecue: barbecue sauce, diced chicken, corn, shredded cabbage or lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese
Pesto: pesto and cream cheese mixture, feta cheese, roasted peppers, sliced olives
Hawaiian: cream cheese, drizzle of barbecue sauce, diced pineapple (squeeze all of the moisture out, or the roll-up will get soggy), diced ham
American: ranch dip, diced smoked turkey, sliced pickles (again, squeeze all of the moisture out), shredded cheddar cheese
Teriyaki: teriyaki sauce, diced chicken, shredded carrot, bell pepper slices, tiny broccoli florets
Cheese and Crackers: stacks of cheese, cut into cute shapes or squares the same size as your crackers, whole wheat crackers, sliced meat or pepperoni, cut up fruit
Make-Your-Own Pizzas: mini-pitas (we get ours from Trader Joe's, they are no bigger than 2-3 inches in diameter), mini-container of marinara, shredded cheese, pepperoni slices, sliced olives
Make-Your-Own Tacos: tortilla chip bowls (Tostitos makes these), shredded cheddar cheese, salsa
Make-Your-Own Pitas: mini pitas, cut in half, hummus, vegetables, feta cheese
Hummus with pita, sliced carrots, cucumber slices, or the vegetables of your choice
Peanut butter with whole wheat crackers, apple slices, celery sticks, pretzels
Barbecue sauce with chicken strips (thanks Jenn, great idea)
Vanilla yogurt with apple slices, crackers or pretzels, or served in a bowl with "toppings" to make a yogurt sundae, such as raisins, dried fruit, granola, coconut
Cottage cheese mixed with salt and pepper, whole wheat crackers, vegetables
Cream cheese (combined with a bit of ranch dressing to make it more easy to dip), vegetable sticks
Alouette (or soft pub cheese from Trader Joe's) cheese with whole wheat crackers, vegetables
Leftovers (this is a partial list of things we have tried or will try with our thermos funtainer food jar)
Tortellini with vegetables and a touch of olive oil
Vegetable Dumplings and edamame
Pasta Carbonara (really, any pasta)
Barbecue Pork or Chicken (Erin, do you have any extra of this in your house?)
Meatballs, noodles and broccoli
Spaghetti Os (make your own with tomato soup and pasta--super tip Katie)
Rice and Beans
Odds and Ends (other lunch ideas)
Smoothies in a thermos
Hard Boiled Eggs
Homemade Trail Mix (what a good thought Mayhem)
Last but not least, I try not to get on a high horse with food, but it is so important to read the labels of your food. Here, from Kraft's own website, is the ingredient list of one of their new "wholesome and nutritious" (their words, not mine) Lunchable options:
INGREDIENTS: ROAST WHITE TURKEY - CURED - SMOKE FLAVOR ADDED - WHITE TURKEY, WATER, POTASSIUM LACTATE, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SALT, DEXTROSE, CARRAGEENAN, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SODIUM DIACETATE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, SMOKE FLAVOR, SODIUM NITRITE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR. PASTEURIZED PREPARED CHEDDAR CHEESE PRODUCT - MILK, WHEY, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, MILKFAT, SODIUM CITRATE, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SALT, LACTIC ACID, SORBIC ACID AS A PRESERVATIVE, OLEORESIN PAPRIKA (COLOR), ANNATTO (COLOR), CHEESE CULTURE, ENZYMES, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, WITH STARCH ADDED FOR SLICE SEPARATION. CONTAINS: MILK. CRACKERS - UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT FLOUR, SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SALT, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA AND/OR CALCIUM PHOSPHATE), WHEY (FROM MILK), SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL FLAVOR. CONTAINS: WHEAT, MILK, SOY
Our kids all suffer from I-want-junk-fooditis, I think it is part of being a kid. I am not trying to single out a certain type of food as "bad," but I think this ingredient list can serve as an example. I fall into the 90-10 camp with food with ingredient lists like the above...make sure you allow your kid to be a kid from time to time, but make sure the majority of their food has ingredient lists that you can pronounce!
Oh, and keep those ideas coming, I am always looking for new inspirations!