This year we had a revolution in our kitchen! After 8 years of packing school lunches in the morning, my husband Andrew and I switched to packing the lunches at night while we’re cleaning up from dinner. This seismic shift was inspired by our son Solomon’s early departure for middle school (his bus comes at 6:55!!), but now that we’ve changed our routine, our mornings are so much calmer that we doubt we’ll ever go back to our old habits.
Solomon and Celia usually bring their lunches to school, and while it’s extra work for Andrew and me, we’re glad to know that they’re eating something nutritious mid-day. But sometimes we get into a rut of packing the same foods day after day, and it gets pretty dull for the kids.
Here are 10 creative ideas that might bounce you and your kids out of the lunch rut:
1. Tuna, chicken or egg salad with whole grain crackers
2. Leftovers like pasta, tortellini with tomato sauce, pizza, chicken, turkey sausage or steak (kids don’t seem to mind eating them cold). Save little condiment packages from takeout food to use as dip
3. Black beans and rice or other rice salads
4. Healthy soup or chili in a thermos (see my Simple Chicken Noodle Soup recipe below)
5. Trail mix made with raisins, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and chocolate chips (or your kids’ favorite items
6. Healthy dried cereals (milk is optional)
7. Baby carrots, celery, sliced cucumbers, red bell peppers and pita chips with hummus or other dip
8. Popcorn (a kid-friendly whole grain), alone or mixed with raisins and nuts
9. Proteins like cheese sticks or cubes, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, chickpeas, edamame, or other legumes
10. Steamed corn on the cob
Get 365 lunch ideas for every season from Laptop Lunches: http://www.laptoplunches.com/bento-menus/
This simple recipe is perfect for soothing winter colds and coughs. Making it isn’t that much harder than warming a can of soup, but you’ll probably feel better knowing that your family is eating your homemade elixir. Make sure to slice the vegetables thinly, which helps them cook faster.
We’d love to hear what your kids’ favorite homemade lunches are! Please share them in the comments below.
Recipe: Simple Chicken Noodle Soup
A perfect, simple recipe is perfect for soothing winter colds and coughs.
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or use diced shiitake mushrooms or extra-firm tofu)
- 48 oz. low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1/4 tsp. herbes de Provence (or use 1/4 tsp. dried thyme)
- 2 cups fine egg noodles (or use 1 cup alphabet noodles)
- 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, combine the chicken, broth, carrots, celery, onions, and herbs. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and simmer it until the chicken turns white, about 10 minutes. (For a meatless version, stir in diced shiitake mushrooms or tofu with the noodles.)
- With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside to cool, keeping the broth at a low boil. After the chicken cools slightly, shred or dice it into bite-size pieces.
- While the chicken is cooling, add the noodles to the boiling broth. Cook them for 8 minutes, or until the noodles are tender. Stir in the chicken and parsley.