Out of the Lunchbox Lunch Ideas
by: Rachel Harris, Managedmoms.com
Back to school means back to the drawing board when it comes to creating unique, visual and healthy lunch box meals that the kids will actually eat. So this year, my family brainstormed boxed lunch foods that will be consumed and not trashed or traded. Here is what we came up with....
Same Ol' Sandwich Solutions
Monster Made Sammies -- This is a cute idea. Simply make your child's favorite sandwich and then cut the bread in half in a zig zag pattern. Then use one slice each of a red bell pepper as eyebrows. To make the eyes, cut white cheese into circles and use the bottom of pickles as the eye ball. See the segment to see a sample sandwich that is made like a monster's face. This is a super cute idea that the little kids will love.
Tortillas -- use whole wheat for healthier option
*Cream Cheese & Turkey Pinwheel - Spread cream cheese in the middle of a flat tortilla, add a healthy lettuce and lean turkey. Then wrap and seal with cream cheese. Cut into pinwheels.
These next two ideas come from my good friend, Lisa Gylling's YouTube Channel, Popcorn Served Daily...
*Banana "sushi" rolls -- Drizzle honey on tortilla and add peanut butter and banana and roll and wrap and then slice. Yummy. The peanut butter is a good protein, the banana is a good source of potassium and the healthy honey satisfies a sweet tooth.
*Chicken Ranch Wrap -- Shred chicken from a Rotisserie chicken and freeze in baggies. Then take the frozen chicken out in the morning and place in a tortilla with lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing and roll it up. Lisa says that the chicken thaws out by lunch time and that the tortilla holds its shape and doesn't get soggy. I can't wait to try this one. Great idea.
*Pita Pockets -- Fill a mini pita pocket with tuna or chicken salad and add lettuce and tomatoes or whatever other veggies or garnishes your kids like. The key to the pita sandwich is to use a mini pita because kids like the mini sizes.
*Slider Sammies -- Make your kid's favorite sandwich using whole wheat mini buns. Make two sandwiches and they will love it just because they are sliders!
*Make Your Own Lunchable -- Kids love Lunchables, so make your own with healthier options. I make mine with turkey, cheese and crackers. I complement that with carrot sticks and apple slices. Then I add a juice box that has less sugar called Honest Kids. This line has half the sugar as most other juice box companies. Each pouch contains 10 grams of sugar, while many other juice box drinks have much more than that. My kids like the fruit punch and lemonade varieties that are sold at Safeway and other grocery stores. I finish off my homemade lunchable with either a homemade dessert bar (I will be showing recipes for that in a few weeks, so stay tuned) or a few Hershey's Dark Chocolate Kisses. Make your own lunchable and you can control what goes into the food and keep the preservatives out of your child's lunch.
*Ka-Bob Bites -- using fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil. My son likes these. Or layer Swiss squares, ham and turkey. Use safer lollipop sticks that can be purchased at craft stores so that the Ka-bobs aren't made with sharp-ended sticks that are dangerous.
*Twist & Roll Ups -- Simply layer your kid's favorite lunch meat with cheese and a little mustard spread and roll up for a tasty finger food lunch option.
*Soup & Salad To Go - The best food jar that I have ever found for hot soups and cold food is hands down the Aladdin Hybrid Kiddo Vacuum Food Jar. This cool BPA free container keeps cold foods cold and hot foods hot for 6 hours. We used one all year last year and it never leaked, even with my girl running from my car to the school. I bought mine at The Container Store for $14.99. Add your child's favorite side salad with a side of dressing and their lunch is good to go.
Instead of the unhealthy potato chips, try these sides on for size...
*Simply 7 Chips -- in all kinds of flavors like the tasty Pomegranate Sea Salt Chips that my daughter likes which has no trans fat, no artificial colors or preservatives, is gluten free and more. I buy my Simply7 snacks at Safeway and they have lots of other flavors like White Cheddar Pomegranate chips and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus chips.
*Homemade guacamole and whole grain tortilla chips -- Both of my kids like guacamole. When I use the Trader Joe's kit, my guac stays green the next day because the kit uses fresh lime juice. The kit also includes two avocados, tomatoes, one jalapeno pepper, shallots and garlic. This combo, that comes assembled, is sold in the produce section at Trader Joe's and it makes the perfect guacamole.
*Make a mini veggie tray -- I am always surprised by just how much my kids' visiting friends enjoy the veggie tray when I put one out, so make a mini one to go into the lunchbox.
*Fruit Ka-Bob - same concept as the main course ones I mentioned earlier in the article, but fill the lollipop stick with fruit like blueberries, banana, cantaloupe and other fruit favorites.
*Peanut butter and apple slices -- Use an apple slicer to get perfectly shaped apple slices and pack some peanut butter on the side. My Mom used to make me this healthy snack and my girl loves this option.
*Mini dill pickles -- for crunch and to satisfy that salt craving.
My Favorite Lunch Boxes
The two lunch box lines that I love are Built and Bumkins. Both brands also offer sandwich and snack bags, which is an earth-friendly alternative to plastic baggies.
Built is a great line. I have a Built lap top tote that has survived my schedule, my kids, my traveling and my freelance career, which has me toting my laptop all over town. It still looks brand new. So we put the Built lunch box to the test and we love that, too. The Big Apple Buddies Lunch Sack insulates food on the go for up to four hours and it is durable and reusable, which is earth-friendly. Plus it comes with a soft handle buckle that unsnaps and attaches to a backpack or book bag. It also wipes clean, which is a plus, and it is PVC, BPA and latex-free. The Built lunchbox sells for $16.99 at www.builtny.com. Built also makes accompanying sandwich and snack packs, which is a better choice than the plastic baggies that pollute our earth. Visit www.builtny.com for products and information.
Bumkins Finer Baby Products offer waterproof and reusable lunch and snack bags. They are designed with their own proprietary fabric and designed with kids in mind. Unlike other waterproof products, you can machine wash and dry or hang dry and the bags are ready to use again. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and are perfect for kid’s lunches. For more information visit www.bumkins.com
Lunch Love Notes
I found a cute little box of cards called Lunchbox Love for Kids and it is filled with positive notes and fun trivia that can be added to your child's lunch box. The box comes with 12 cards and is sold at Office Max for $2.99 or visit www.sayplease.com to see other variations and quantities.
What are your cool back to school lunchbox ideas? Share in the comments section and be sure to visit my blog at www.managedmoms.com for more recipes, parenting topics, pet stuff and more.