9 fun back-to-school lunches
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First day of school!
These are my three monkeys, Will, Jake, and Luke. As we head into another school year, it's time for Mom to start packing lunches again. I let my boys choose one hot lunch per week to eat at school, and the rest of the time, I pack their lnches. It saves us a ton of money, plus they're getting healthy food they'll actually eat.
A few years ago, I became obsessed with bento lunches. Bento is a Japanese term referring to single-serving take-out. The idea is that instead of packing two or three big things in a lunch, you pack several smaller items.Here are some of the lunches I've made for my boys. I hope you find some ideas your kids will enjoy!Date Published: August 15, 2012Date Updated: August 23, 2012
Ants on a log
This lunch consisted of sliced kiwi, celery with peanut butter and raisins (ants on a log), string cheese, a mini turkey wrap, and fishy crackers. The pick makes eating the kiwi fun and easy, and eliminates the chance of one of my forks getting thrown away in the lunchroom. I have a bin in the cupboard full of these picks, cupcake liners, and other fun things to use in lunches.
Visit my blog, Lisa's Kitchen, for more meal ideas!Date Published: August 15, 2012Date Updated: August 23, 2012
Cupcake papers make perfect dividers for bento lunches. There are so many cute holiday and cartoon character liners out there, so the possibilities are endless. Many of them now come with picks intended to go in the tops of the cupcakes, but I use them in the boys' lunches. These pirate-themed picks are skewering mini pepperoni (perfect for bento!) and turkey slices. A mini box of raisins, some whole-wheat crackers, and a cheese stick round out this lunch. A banana was also included in the lunch bag.Date Published: August 15, 2012Date Updated: August 23, 2012
Lunch fit for a star
I packed this lunch especially for Will when he was the "Star of the Week" at school. In the upper left compartment, I packed his favorite grape tomatoes, and cheese I cut into star shapes with a mini cookie cutter. I used food coloring markers (found where food coloring is sold) to write "Will" and "of the week" on the cheese stars. He also took champagne grapes, ham slices, a no-sugar-added dried fruit bar, and Irish soda bread.
I could have made his sandwich for him, but this way he got to be a big boy and make it himself. Next time you're at a deli or fast-food restaurant where they have condiment packets, grab a few extras to bring home. They're perfect for packing in lunches!Date Published: August 15, 2012Date Updated: August 23, 2012
Keep it cool
A turkey wrap, mini cornbread muffin, baked apple (I made extras when we had them for dessert the night before), and carrot chips make up this tasty lunch. I also packed a frozen tube of yogurt in the lunch bag to help keep everything cool. Frozen reusable ice packs are also very handy, and frozen pudding or fruit cocktail cups also do the trick! They thaw out by lunchtime, and keep lunches cool in the meantime.Date Published: August 15, 2012Date Updated: August 23, 2012
Many mini bites
Lots of little things make up this big lunch: mini cornbread muffins, grapes, grape tomatoes, mini pepperoni, and cubed ham with picks for eating. A peanut-butter-chocolate wafer bar makes for a sweet dessert, and a frozen tube of yogurt was also packed in the bag.
When it comes to drinks, I usually send a bottle of water with my boys. Fill bottles half full, freeze overnight, fill with water before school, and they should have an icy cool drink at lunch. If low-cal vegetable juice is on sale, I sometimes buy them cans of that as well. Sometimes, I send them some change and they buy milk or juice at school.Date Published: August 15, 2012Date Updated: August 23, 2012
Everybody knows meatloaf is even better cold! I cut leftover loaf into bite-sized chunks and included picks for eating and chunks of cheese, so the kids could make their own meatloaf kabobs. They also got an apple and some baby carrots in their lunch bags.
Another thing I usually pack is a sticky note. Sometimes it has a corny joke for them to tell the kids at their lunch table. Sometimes it wishes them good luck on a test. It's my way of sending them a little hug from Mom in the middle of the day, without embarrassing them with a love note full of hearts and XOXO.Date Published: August 15, 2012Date Updated: August 23, 2012
Here's another fun use for food coloring markers! Tortillas make a perfect canvas. This lunch was made around Christmas, so I painted each fourth of a PB&J tortilla sandwich with different holiday designs. You could do the same thing with pepperoni and cheese quesadillas. Paint the tortillas to look like a face, a clock, or a baseball, then cut them up to make an edible puzzle.
This lunch also included mini pretzel crackers mixed with raisins and nuts (homemade trail mix is fun to make!) and a juicy apple. A container of cottage cheese was also packed.Date Published: August 15, 2012Date Updated: August 23, 2012
My boys love those pre-packaged lunches with crackers, meat and cheese, but they're crazy expensive! Make them yourself and they'll still get the fun of stacking their cracker sandwiches. Cupcake papers just hit the top of this sandwich-sized box, keeping crackers dry and preventing everything from sliding all over the place.
I also packed salami and cheese rolled up and poked with a pick, raisins, crackers, carrot chips, and pudding.Date Published: August 15, 2012Date Updated: August 23, 2012
Creepy crawly lunch
It's worth going above and beyond for holidays. I made this Halloween lunch for my boys, but it would also work well for April Fool's Day. Here, a PB&J sandwich crawls with gummy worms, strawberries dipped in white chocolate were painted with dark chocolate to look like skulls and ghosts, and there were enough chocolate "eyeballs" to share with their pals. They also got a banana and tube of yogurt. This lunch was a big hit, and got tons of comments from kids and teachers! Best of all, my boys loved it.
I hope you're inspired to make some fun, healthy lunches for your kids this school year!Date Published: August 15, 2012Date Updated: August 23, 2012
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