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Five Lunch Menus Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
- Pizza Stackers: Tomato and Basil Crackers Topped with Pepperoni and Mozzarella Slices. When I was doing my grocery shopping the other day, they had the tomato and basil flavored rice Triskets and, an aisle later, the pepperoni on sale. Seeing the two together I had a great idea. Pizza stackers. My girls love pizza. If I let them have Lunchables that is most often their Lunchable of choice. However the Lunchables version includes tomato sauce which is messy and stains. By using a cracker that is already tomato flavor I avoid that problem.
- Rosemary & Salmon: Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers with Salmon and Cream Cheese
- Rosemary & Chicken: Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers with Chicken and Cheddar
- Tomato & Beef: Fire Roasted Tomato Crackers with Roast Beef and Pepper Jack
- Red Pepper & Beef: Fire Roasted Red Pepper Crackers with Roast Beef and Pepper Jack
- Thanksgiving Stackers: Roasted Sweet Onion and Sweet Potato Crackers with Turkey, a creamy Swiss or cream cheese and a dollop of cranberry sauce
- Chicken & Herb: Garden Herb Crackers with chicken and mozzarella slices
Lunch can quickly go from a routine to a rut. Particularly when your family members each have their own ideas about what is acceptable. The following menus all us the mix-in idea that is so popular with ice cream and yogurt shops. You simply package the ingredients separately and then allow them to choice. This puts the anise of choosing an enticing lunch upon their shoulders thus saving you countless headaches.
Lunchables are a nice break from the typical sandwiches. My girls like them because they are bite sized pieces and they get to pick their flavors. This is easily accomplished at home by pre-making your basic combinations. I like to sort them into Glad plastic containers. Simply slice six to ten cracker sized slices of cheese. Add an equal number of cracker sized sliced meats (or double if using pepperoni). Finally add an equal number of crackers. Add a fruit cup and fresh vegetables and your child is ready for lunch. You can also add a cookie or mini candy bar for an added treat. Note on pre-making stackers: if you wish the crackers to maintain their crunch you will need to store them in their own container (like a paper baking cup) or add them the morning of the meal.
This is an easy meal to make ahead of time. Buy a large container of yogurt, fresh fruit, granola, chopped nuts and if you’re feeling really extravagant whipped cream. Portion out each item into plastic containers. (I prefer to use the Glad disposables, then if my children loose or throw away the containers I don’t feel as bad about replacing them.) In the morning your children can choose one yogurt flavor, one fruit selection, one granola container and one type of chopped nuts. Put it in their lunch box with a spoon and maybe some sliced fresh vegetables and they are ready to go.
We tend to use Greek Yogurt in our house, but if your children have a favorite by all means stick with that.
- Vanilla yogurt with peaches and pecans
- Blueberry yogurt with oranges and hazelnuts
- Strawberry yogurt with rhubarb and pecans
- Strawberry yogurt with bananas and walnuts
- Honey yogurt with apples and walnuts
- Raspberry yogurt with cranberries and almonds
- Plain yogurt with pears and almonds
- Chili and cottage cheese potato
- Classic potato: bacon, chives, mixed grated cheese and sour cream
- Ham and cheese: diced ham and grated cheddar with diced potatoes
- Broccoli and cheese potato
Dice and cook your potatoes. Then cool and store in a plastic container. Then provide your children with a selection of proteins, vegetables and dairy to individualize their potato lunches with.
Protein choices include bacon, diced ham or chili. One note: if your child does not have access to a microwave you probably don’t want to offer chili.
Vegetable choices include chives, green onions, peppers, broccoli and chili. (The chili works as both a protein and a vegetable because beans, the primary ingredient in chili, can be used for both.)
Dairy choices include sour cream, grated cheese and cottage cheese.
- Apple walnut salad with a fruit vinaigrette
- Pear pecan salad with a fruit vinaigrette
- Feta spinach salad with nuts and olives – pairs well with a vinaigrette and goldfish crackers
- Taco salad: Mixed greens with tomatoes, olives, corn and black beans topped with salsa and eaten with tortilla chips
If your family is anything like mine this will save you the hassle of listening to everyone’s complaints about the vegetables they would/would not prefer. Simply provide a bed of greens in one container with room for mix ins and a variety of smaller containers from which your children can choose.
Protein choices include bacon, nuts, seeds, beans, diced chicken and diced ham.
Vegetable choices include carrots, peas, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, radishes, etc.
Fruit choices include diced apples, diced pears, mandarin oranges, berries, etc..
If you wish you could also provide a selection of cheeses. You will, of course, need a selection of dressings.
- Tuna Pasta Salad: Vegetable noodles with tuna, olives, diced peppers, green peas, diced cheddar and Cheese Fantastica vinaigrette
- Spaghetti: Spaghetti noodles, tomato sauce, meatballs, diced tomatoes, olives and mushrooms
- Chicken Alfredo: Noodles, Alfredo sauce, chicken, mushrooms and olives
- Apple Walnut Salad: Noodles, diced apples, walnuts and a fruit vinaigrette
- Picnic Pasta Salad: Noodles, diced ham, eggs, green onions, peas and mayonnaise or miracle whip (whichever you prefer).
Pasta bars are great for versatility. You could create a pasta salad or pair it with a sauce for a more Italian meal. Don’t offer too many choices or your offerings will go bad before they can all be eaten. Just choose a few meal options and provide those as choices. Also for noodles I tend to choice either whole wheat or vegetable noodles.
Protein choices include bacon, nuts, seeds, beans, diced chicken, tuna, diced ham, meatballs and eggs.
Vegetable choices include tomatoes, olives, onions, corn, peas, peppers, mushrooms and broccoli.
Fruit choices include apples, pears, mandarin oranges and berries.
Sauces include tomato sauce, Alfredo sauce, vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, miracle whip and ranch.
Hopefully these ideas will help you get out of your rut and make for less headaches at lunch time. Enjoy.