If you have kids, congratulations on making it through the first month back at school. Getting into the fall routine can be tough, and the monotony of packing school lunches five days a week can quickly feel mind numbing. How many times is it okay to send a cheese sandwich? What if you put it in a tortilla and call it a cheese burrito? I hear you, and I feel your pain.
Coming up with school lunches that are healthy and that your child will eat doesn’t have to mean making bananas that look like Minions or bento boxes that look like gaming consoles. I, on the other hand, prefer a more straight forward approach.
Who ever said that lunch had to be “lunch food”?
My kids love breakfast, so sometimes I send them leftover pancakes or waffles cut into strips with a yogurt dip. Or, I cut the pancakes or waffles in half and make a sunflower seed butter and banana sandwich.
Never under-estimate the power of leftovers…
Almost any kind of casserole, pasta or rice dish, chili, stew or curry makes an awesome lunch the next day. Heat up leftovers in the microwave, then put them in a wide-mouthed thermos that’s been preheated with boiling water. Voilà, you’ve got a great rainy day (or any day) lunch. Send a paper napkin though. Little mouths might need a bit of a wipe afterwards.
Make one dish—like pasta salad—for more than one day’s lunch.
On Sunday nights, try making a cold pasta salad. Use:
- cooked and rinsed macaroni, penne, or rotini
- cooked diced chicken or ground beef, or rinsed canned chickpeas
- grated cheese or crumbled feta
- cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumber, grated carrot, frozen peas, or any other vegetable your kid likes
Add a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar or leave it plain if that’s what is preferred. Congratulations! You now have lunch for several days. It’s recommended not to leave leftovers in the fridge for longer than 3 days, but with hungry mouths to feed, mine never usually last that long.
Don’t be hard on yourself!
If a cheese sandwich is all your kid will eat, try to use the rest of the meal to introduce some variety. And, if you do have time to make Minion bananas and game console bento boxes, stand proud. The rest of us envy your creativity! Being a parent is hard. Mealtime is about coming together, not falling apart.
For more lunch ideas, as well as information on how to pack a safe lunch, check out HealthLink BC’s Lunches to Go.