The new school year is a hot topic in our household in August. Checking over supply lists, taking inventory of school wardrobes, and wondering which friends will be in the kids’ classroom this year are frequent conversations. The week before school begins we make a list of favorite lunches to pack so we can have the ingredients ready. Peanut butter and jelly is a good option for only so long.
School lunches are also a frequent topic in some of my favorite magazines, but I only have so much time to cut little shapes out the my kids’ food and they’re not too crazy about hummus. So, for the average mom and kids, here are a few of our favorites:
- Tortilla wraps: tortillas, a squirt of ranch dressing or a little mayonnaise, with lettuce, meat, and cheese. Skewer on a pretzel stick to keep it from coming unrolled. Tortillas also make pb&j a little more exciting. In fact, I’m beginning to realize I can stuff anything in a tortilla and my kids will think it’s great.
- Stew, macaroni and cheese, left-over casseroles, and stir-fry stay warm in small insulated containers.
- A tip from my grandma: My mom used to take baked beans or chili in a thermos with a hot dog submerged in them. She would remove the hot dog and put it in a bun that was wrapped in foil then enjoy the beans or chili.
- We recycle the plastic Gerber baby food containers or purchase a package of small plastic containers at the dollar store to make our own pudding, applesauce, and gelatin cups. I also will put a dab of ranch dressing in the bottom of the container and add baby carrots or peanut butter with apples. We use them for salsa and salad dressing. Possibilities are endless!
- A salad with the previous night’s leftover chicken, ham, etc.
- Leftover pasta salad with veggies and some fruit on the side.
- My son came home excited about a classmate’s lunch consisting of a small whole apple, cored, and the center filled with peanut butter and a sprinkle of chocolate chips.
- Mini bagels with cream cheese topped with fruit or cucumber, or bagels with peanut butter.
- Peanut butter surprise sandwiches: typical peanut butter and bread but topped with sliced fruit or dried fruit.
- My kids enjoy trying different kinds of cream cheese as a spread on bagels, of course, but also for dipping veggies and fruit, or spread on tortillas or corn chips.
- Yogurt cups. We also use the small plastic containers to dole out yogurt from a large container and add our own fruit mixes. Include a small container of granola to sprinkle on top for crunch.
- Cold left-over pizza—it’s not only for breakfast!
- We all pitch in after grocery shopping to clean and prepare fruits and veggies to help lunch-packing easy. I keep a couple of cans of juice-packed diced fruit in the pantry just in case we run low on fresh fruit or to toss in gelatin or yogurt cups.
- Many favorite parenting and cooking websites also offer great ideas.
We also keep a few essentials in the children’s lunch bags: a small zipper bag with a few baby wipes, a small container of anti-bacterial gel, and a spoon and fork. My self-conscious daughter also keeps a small mirror in her bag to check her face after eating.
I would love to add to my brown bag list. Please post your ideas in the comment section below to share with other moms. Bon apetit!