School lunches…that typically brings up mixed feelings in most mamas. It’s a chore that can be a bore… But we all have to do it. Today was on Good Day Sacramento with the super fun Melissa to show you how to make the lunch chore easier and to give you a few fun new things to try! You can see part 1 of the segment here and part 2 here. I’m not talking about super elaborate bento box style lunches with falcon sculptures made of cheese. Although, if you’re into that, that’s awesome! I’m talking special touches that take seconds, giving dinners a new life, and displaying the typical lunch food in new ways.
Tips and Tricks
- Remember: You are the expert of your kids, only serve them what you know they will eat. However, once a week try something new in small quantities. They may surprise you and LOVE it!
- Ask for feedback. Tell them not to throw anything away and bring back all the leftovers. This will give you a good idea if what they are actually eating.
- Be sure to ask their teacher of there are any nut allergies in class and be respectful. Sun butter is a great swap out for peanut butter and safe for all nut allergies.
- Set-up a “Lunch” station in your cupboard and have a bin in your fridge. This way you’ll have all your supplies in one convenient location.
- Pick a prep day. Mine is Sunday. I plan the week’s menu, get my coupons ready, and shop. When I come home from the store I clean, chop, and portion out my fruits, veggies, and snacks. I try to do all the hard work that day.
- Think about leftovers when it comes to school lunches. Some things are delicious cold like pizza, tortellini, even quesadillas.
- Choose a great lunch packing tuppeware system. I like the Sistema brand, but there are plenty of options out there. Whatever you choose, just make sure they are made out of “safe” plastic. The unsafe plastics are 3, 6, 7, and BPA.
- Ask your kids to help prep and pack their lunches. They are more than capable.
- Instead of using an ice pack, freeze their juice boxes or juice pouches. They will be thawed by lunch and won’t take up valuable space.
- Always pack an individual wet wipe so they can sanitize their hands before they eat.
- Jazz up their lunch with their favorite character napkins from Party City and fun tooth picks that look like swords, jewels, and pendants. Including these special touches and using a cookie cutter or a sandwich punch once in a while takes only a few extra seconds and puts a smile on your kids face.
Kiddie Klub Sandos with veggies and dip, grapes, and Pirate’s Booty
- The sandos are made of thick cut ham and thick cut cheese stacked with a little lettuce and skewered with a cute pendant topped toothpick. I used a butterfly cookie cutter I had. These little butterfly shapes are excellent at disguising the fact that I used the heel of the bread to make them. No one wants to eat the heel, but my daughter won’t even notice because she was too enamored by the shape.
- Put your dip in the bottom and add the veggies right on top. I used OPA by Lighthouse feta and dill yogurt dressing as dip bought in the produce section of my grocery store.
- You could make a larger portion of this sandwich and still use the skewer to add some pizazz.
Lollipop Pinwheels with ants on a log, strawberries, and letter crackers
- The roll-ups are a copy-cat version of my favorite sandwich from a local shop. I used cranberry jelly, cream cheese, and nitrate-free turkey from the deli. The wrap is a whole wheat tortilla, Ole Extreme Wellness High Fiber/Low Carb and has 0 grams of sugar. I found them with all the other tortillas on one of the bottom shelves. I like that they are thinner than some of the other “wrap” options. If you have an older child with a larger appetite just send them with the whole roll-up.
- Ants on a log – an old favorite of mine. Try SunButter if someone in your kids class has an allergy to tree nuts.
- The quesadilla is made using the same Ole Extreme Wellness High Fiber/Low Carb wrap from the lollipops. It’s just cheese, but leftover chicken would be a great addition.
- The fiesta bean salad doubles as a dip for the chips but packs a huge fiber and protein punch and hides some veggies. I topped mine with fresh avocado. (Submerge the avocado to keep it from getting brown.)
Fiesta Bean Salad Recipe
- 1 can black beans, rinsed (add garbanzo, kidney, or whatever else you like)
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed (fresh would be good too)
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 a red onion, chopped
- 1 tomato chopped
- Cilantro (optional
For dressing whisk together 1 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 cloves of grated garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, a dash of paprika, a dash of chili powder, and salt and paper to taste. Mix all the salad items together and toss with the dressing. This will keep in your fridge for at least 5 days.
Pizza Buns with farro salad, secret message/tattoo bananas, and graham crackers
- The Pizza Buns are leftovers from dinner.
- The banana trick is pretty cool. For the secret message, write with a pencil on the banana in the morning. Your message will appear by lunch time. Apply the tattoos to the banana just like you would skin. Super fun!
- I balanced out the lack of nutrition in the buns with a healthy farro salad.
Pizza Bun Recipe
- 1 pack ready made pizza crust
- 1 cup pizza sauce (I used my veggie packed Crockpot Marinara recipe.)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- A sprinkle of garlic salt and Italian seasoning
Roll out your pizza dough into a fairly thin rectangle. Top with the sauce, then the mozz, and the parm. Feel free to add any additional toppings, but nothing with too much moisture. Now roll up your dough working from the wider side of the rectangle. Try to roll it pretty tight. Wrap with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer to make it easier to cut, about 25 minutes. Pull it our and make cuts about 1 1/2 inches apart. Place those in a packing dish and bake at 400° for about 25 minutes. Yum!
Mini Quiche with banana bread, a fruit skewer, peppers and hummus, and a Clif Kid ZBar
- These mini omlettes were so easy to make! The silicone cupcake liner really helped it tho cook more evenly and helped it not get too hot. I added ham and cheese, but you should add whatever your kiddos like. I whisked six eggs, added a dash of cream and salt and paper to taste then my ham and cheese. These went into a 375° over for about 20 minutes.
- Homemade banana bread is a favorite around here, the kids can’t stop eating it!
- Fruit skewers or “wands” are always a fun treat, but you could just add more fruit if your kiddo has a bigger appetite.
- The ZBars are low in sugar, organic and made just for kids. Perfect lunch accompaniment or anytime snack!
What’s your best lunch tip??