After so many peanut butter and jellies, or tuna sandwiches it is easy to wonder, “What else can I pack for lunch?” We found a few tricks and ideas to keep the kids (and you) from getting bored of the every-day packed lunch.
It can be tough to please picky eaters, but it seems like we always resort to whatever they eat, even if that means packing the same thing three days in row. Expand your repertoire and your kids’ taste buds and sub the boring sandwiches with pasta salads. Kids love pasta shapes like bowties, shells, and wheels. Make with kid friendly veggies like broccoli, carrots, and sweet bell peppers and leftover chicken, ham, or pepperoni for protein. Toss with white wine vinegar and olive oil, garnish with Parmesan. (Make extra, you may want to pack this for yourself too!) Trying to add more healthily foods to your kids’ diet? Really stick it to them, and pack a kabob lunch. For a fun-to-eat lunch, skewer bite-size foods like cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, cheese, leftover chicken, or olives. You can even include a dessert kabob with your child’s favorite fruits and berries. More alternatives to traditional sandwiches are wraps. Try wrapping anything from a layer of tomato sauce, provolone and salami for a pizza wrap, or bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. Slice wraps into two inch pieces for “pinwheels” that kids love. Kids also love simple foods like cheese and crackers. For a familiar and easy lunch, make an adult-like cheese and cracker plate with a few varieties of their favorite cheeses, crackers, and deli meat; add grapes and apple slices for a well-rounded meal. If all else fails, you can always add sliced bananas to their peanut butter jellies!
When we brown-bag our lunch it can seem humdrum compared to everyone else’s take out meals. With a few simple tweaks your lunch can wow you and even your co-workers. Grain salads are an ideal way to get a nutrient boost without weighing you down for the rest afternoon. Grains like barley, protein rich quinoa, and farro make for excellent mid-day meals. Add your favorite vegetables, chicken, or leftovers, and toss with a vinaigrette. An effortless example: toss grains with leftover taco meat, bell peppers, and avocado, use salsa instead of a dressing for a healthy Mexican salad. For an extra boost, serve over leafy greens. For colder months make a pot of stew, chili, or soup at the beginning of the week to bring along for lunch. Freeze in individual sizes to simply bring along and reheat. (Most soups and stews will keep for about two months in the freezer.) Break out of the sandwich and wrap rut with pitas. Stuff pita bread with curry chicken salad, Greek salad with chicken, feta and eggplant, or again, give life to leftovers for lunch with last night’s steak, blue cheese and arugula.
Now who would want take out?