The school year has begun, and with it the challenges, and often accompanying complaints of what your child has to eat for lunch. With the dubious nutrition and taste of school lunches, and the cost and non-existent health benefits of having lunch from a vending machine, parents turn to that standby of the brown bag lunch. However, today’s kids have far more experienced and sophisticated palates. While in years past many kids may have been satisfied with a simple PB&J, today’s young gourmands have experience eating sushi, wood-fire oven pizza and a host of other gourmet foods. This leaves caregivers at a loss as to what they can pack for their kids that will be healthy, will get eaten and most importantly can survive the transport to school. The good news is that there is a wide variety of lunch ideas that can keep you going all year long. Here are some back to school lunch ideas-
Be green and yummy at the same time. Once you have finished those single serve yogurts, don’t throw them away. They can be washed and then filled with Jell-O, pudding, mousse, or even made into a yogurt parfait, for your school age child. This not only saves you money but lets you personalize your child’s lunch to their taste.
Make some dippers! Even the pickiest eaters love to dip their food. Slice up any cooked chicken into chicken strips. You can then pack them with your child’s favorite dipping sauce such as: ranch dressing, salsa, barbecue sauce or even pizza sauce. This idea also works well with bread sticks. Another healthy dipping alternative is to cut up fresh fruit into bite sized pieces. You can then send along a cup of yogurt or pudding to dip the fruit into it.
Wrap it up. Kids love the taste and the ease of eating a wrap sandwich. You can even reinvent the PB& J on a flour tortilla. Simply spread the peanut butter and jelly on the tortilla and roll it up. You can leave it whole or cut it crosswise into pieces. The only limits as to what kinds of wraps you can make are what your child will eat. Be creative and you may be surprised at what becomes their favorite.
Think about breakfast for lunch-You can heat frozen waffles and then turn them into a sandwich, by simply using peanut butter and jelly. If a whole waffle will overwhelm your child, then cut it into sticks or bite sized pieces. Be sure to send syrup for dipping.
Go round with the bread-Kids love bagels of all kinds! Change up their sandwich by using a bagel. Simply cut open the bagel, spread on some cream cheese and then layer meat on top of that. Keep in mind that kids will rarely open their bagel to inspect it, so you might be able to sneak in something healthy.
Let them play with their food-Lots of kids like to be hands on with their food. Save yourself the work of having to put lunch “together”. Just bag up some crackers, sliced meat, and cubed cheeses. You can also throw in some small packets of mustard or mayo and let them put together their own lunch creations.
Rethink the Thermos-Thermoses don’t have to be just for soup. Lots of kids are pasta lovers. Fill your child’s thermos with heated pasta, leftover from the night before (mac and cheese is always a big favorite). When they get to school they can spoon their pasta right out of the thermos, nice and warm.