Since it is back-to-school time, you may find yourself packing lunches soon. Here are some great recipes for your child (or for you!) that don’t involve the standard PB&J:
Do-It-Yourself Pitas: Place the following items separately in a lunchbox: sliced pita bread in plastic wrap; a sealable plastic bag with a selection of cheese, grated carrots, lettuce, cucumber slices, deli meat or pepperoni, etc.; and a small container of dressing (ranch or Italian works great). Include a spoon (plastic, if you are afraid you won’t get it back). Your child will fill the pita at lunchtime, making this a fun do-it-yourself lunch that won’t get soggy!
Itty-Bitty Pizzas: The night before, press some refrigerated biscuit dough into muffin tins. Add sauce and cheese and then bake. These tiny pizzas are meant to be eaten at room temperature – put two in your child’s lunch. In a separate container, add some fruit or carrot sticks.
Make-Ahead Pocket Sandwiches: Get some frozen bread dough. Follow the package directions for thawing/rising. Punch it down and divide it into sections (about 10). Roll each section into a five-inch circle. Place one circle on a greased cookie sheet and top with ingredients – ham and cheese, tomato sauce and pepperoni, tofu and goat cheese – whatever you think will cook and hold up well. Brush the edges of the dough with a mixture of egg yolk and water. Fold one side of the dough over the filling to the other side and pinch the edges to seal. Repeat for all of the circles, and then brush the tops with the remaining egg mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes (or until golden). These can be frozen, then just add one to your lunchbox.
Tortilla Pinwheels: Mix together sour cream, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, black olives, chopped green onion, and salt and pepper. Spread the mixture onto a tortilla and roll it tightly. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it overnight. In the morning, unwrap and cut into slices. Put them in the lunchbox with a small container of salsa.
Caesar Salad: Put everything in separate containers: lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese, and slices of cooked chicken. Include a fork and your child can assemble this salad at lunch – this keeps the croutons and lettuce from getting soggy.
Cream Cheese and Cucumber Sandwiches: Use flatbread or some filling whole-wheat bread. Add herbed cream cheese and thinly-sliced cucumbers. Serve with fresh fruit and a dessert.
Pita Wedges and Hummus: In a food processor, combine two cans of chickpeas (rinse and drain, keeping about 1/4 of the liquid), lemon juice, chopped garlic, salt, a dash of cayenne pepper, and some tahini. Process until smooth and store in an airtight container. Put some in a small container and place in the lunchbox. Add pita wedges, some carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, and celery sticks for dipping.
Make Breakfast for Lunch: Waffles are great – and they can be eaten cold. Make a “waffle sandwich” using cream cheese and strawberry jam. Or, add some cooked sliced chicken and a small container of syrup for chicken and waffles.
Fried Rice: Don’t know what to do with the leftover rice you had with dinner? Toss it in a pan and add a cooked egg and some Asian-style frozen vegetables. Sprinkle with soy sauce and cook through. This tastes great cold!
Make it a Muffin: Do you have a box of corn meal muffin mix? Add leftover taco meat and cheese to the batter! Line a muffin pan with papers and fill each cup about half full.
Freeze bottles of water to add to your child’s lunchbox. This will give your child nice, cold water by the time lunch rolls around, and the frozen bottle will keep the lunch cold (and safe!). Also, think ahead – when making dinner, add extra to use for lunch the next day. Children also appreciate a lunch note – try one of these.
Do you have a favorite lunch recipe? Share it with us on Facebook!