Culinary Musings

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Back to School – Lunchbox Tips

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It’s creeping up on back to school time.  I always struggle to pack lunches for the kids.  They’re not into sandwiches for the most part and sometimes leftovers just aren’t appropriate or stable enough to send along.  I also get sick and tired of losing tupperware week after week.  Kids just dont bring those things HOME!

Here are a few things I’m going to try for the new school year to boost the “healthy” component in their lunches.

  • Lunchbox? Yea or Nay? – In my house, lunchboxes are mostly a nay.  MyBack to School Lunch Packing Ideas 11yo has one, but forgets it at school most of the time, so it comes home with stuff growing in side it.  I generally pack lunches in plastic grocery store bags.  It’s a good way to reuse them, they can recycle them at school, and I don’t get angry because my stuff doesn’t  come back home.  For little kids, lunchboxes are status symbols, so you might not get away with this.
  • Tortilla Roll Ups – these are easy to make and pack – just wrap in tin foil, and they’re very versatile.  You can load a tortilla with caesar salad, peanut butter and jelly, turkey and cheese, ham and lettuce, the possibilities are endless and it’s much easier to eat and make than a traditional “sandwich.”
  • Pack in tin foil instead of plastic containers - Try making a pocket out of tin foil to pack veggies, fruit, salad, etc.  This keeps your plastic containers at home where you can find them, and makes lunch easy to eat and throw away or recycle.
  • Freeze Yogurt or pudding - to use as ice packs in the kiddo’s lunch box.  This keeps lunch cold and is still a frosty treat by lunch time
  • Freeze Water Bottles - I only send water in the kids’ lunches.  By freezing the water bottle their drink is cold at lunch time and their lunch is kept cool and fresh.
  • Fruit and Veggies - Fruit is a must, but sometimes they just dont keep.  My kids don’t like warm fruits and veggies.  The frozen water helps, as does putting COLD fruit in their lunchbox.  I pack carrot or celery sticks with ranch dip or peanut butter.  They also like grapes, oranges or apples in their lunch.  You can extend the life of sliced apples for lunches with these techniques:
    • Soak sliced apples in cold salt water for 3-5 minutes – use 1/2 tsp of salt per 4 C of water
    • Soak them in a bowl of cold lemon water for 3-5 minutes – 1 Tbsp lemon juice per 1 C water
    • Sprinkle them with Fruit Fresh
    • Soak them in a bowl of cold Sprite or 7-Up for 3-5 minutes.
    • No matter which method you choose – store in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator.
  • Go Nuts – Nuts have lots of protein so they’re good choices for your lunch boxes.  My kids like trail mix, but with certain things only, so I make my own GORP.
  • Instead of chips I pack Popcorn - Popcorn has a ton of fiber, kids like it, and it’s economical.  You can flavor it with different things like chili powder, garlic salt, white cheddar powder, etc.

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