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Monday, September 7, 2009

Back to School Lunch Ideas

With four kids and a husband to pack lunches for everyday you try to keep things fresh, easy, and fast. You also don't want to run into the monotany of a salami sandwich daily so we try to keep things varied, but easy daily. Given we have two in elementary and now two in highschool there are also issues with the older two "looking cool" for school. Fortunately the wide and varied lunches we prepare have gotten envious looks from my oldest's highschool football team so I think we are doing alright. (I even had a request to make pizza scones for the team at one point).

Now that school is back I'm spending the day getting prepared for the weekly lunches. Spending part of a weekend day prepping everything makes whipping together lunches in the morning a snap. Things to always have on hand

Cut celery
Carrot sticks
Broccoli heads
Salad dressings
Bacon bits

We try to keep our lunch waste to a minimum so rarely do we have prepared foods and we use these fantastic starfrit containers with snap down lids that never come off until intended. No smelly bags from inadvertant food spillage!!

Standard things we put in the lunches.

A small container with fresh veggies. Be they carrot/celery, broccoli, peppers. A side small starfrit container with some salad dressing for dipping.

Mixing is up is important. We also cut up fresh fruit ahead of time so we can have a container of that available if they want it.

Treats for lunches include, homemade chocolate chip cookies which can be seen In this post

Cupcakes (any number of the ones posted and those to come)

A slice of cake if we've made one.

Drinks are all done in refillable containers. Often we'll put the drinks in the freezer the night before so they are semi frozen in time for school and thaw out as the day goes on but they still have a nice cool drink. Lemonade, juice, etc.

Now for the fun part. Main course with lunch. Sunday nights I usually have a tray full of chicken breasts cooking in the oven. Used to make chicken salad sandwiches or buns. Cut up into wraps for something different with peppers, lettuce, and some cheese. This makes life so much easier.

Salads: Caesar, garden, whatever, the lettuce is already washed and ready to go. Rip it up, toss it into containers and add whatever you want to it. We already have all the veggies washed, cut up in containers in the fridge so the choice is endless. Cut up some chicken for protein and good to go!

Rice: Make some rice balls of white/brown rice, throw in some cut up chicken or pork, or beef, some veggies on the side and instant bento box.

Pizza scones...this is always a favorite. I'll make some later this week to show you how it's done. I usually just make these in the morning if I feel like it. 20 minutes and they are prepped and ready to go.

Tomorrow's lunch will consist of Chicken Salad on a homemade bun, carrot and celery sticks, chocolate chip cookies with lemonade drinks.

Wednesday will be Caesar's salads, rice balls, Amaretto cupcakes, apple and banana slices and a drink.

I also try to stay away from deli meats as they have so much sodium and nitrites in them I think too much of that is a little harmful. Other thinks we do is cook a beef roast on Sunday to use in sandwiches, pork roast, etc. Spice up the sandwich with some cut peppers, or make a wrap, add a little salsa and cheese and new ideas come out.

My chicken salad sandwich is a little different than the standard fare.
First I use shredded cooked chicken breast
Add shredded carrot and celery
Toss in a handful or two of bacon bits, some mayonaisse, a pinch of salt, and it's good to go. The bacon adds some nice little zest to it.

Chicken shredded

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Chicken with shredded carrots, celery, and bacon bits added.

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Now on the homemade buns with lettuce

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Sandwich all Packed up in the nifty Starfrit containers. 

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