To wrap up our “Back to School Prep” here are some great tips for making lunch a little more exciting. Actually, you don’t need to have school-age kids to appreciate these suggestions. I’m going to try them on my little boys!
—Instead of sandwiches, use pita bread, tortillas, or even Indian fry bread to make them exciting… and there are even a lot of different types of bread to work with: zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, pumpernickel bread, potato bread, etc. There is no need to stick with plain white or wheat sandwich bread.
—Make baked meat or vegetable pies (baked right before school or the night before). Or send hot soup, stew, or dip in a thermos (heat up the soup, pour boiling water in the thermos to warm it, pour the water out, then pour the hot soup in. It should still be warm at lunchtime.)
—You can jazz up fruit and veggies by cutting them up in neat shapes (you can buy special knives for slicing in zig-zags, for instance), and try new and exciting dips (why have ranch EVERY time?).
—Or you can make fish-free sushi wraps with rice and veggies with soy sauce to dip-ins (if your kids like sushi-type things. Or you can even use cut-up cooked chicken and beef in the seaweed rice wraps.) You can also provide a rice pilaf/salad with lettuce leaves or other greens for wrapping.
—And I love cold mini quiches, you can make them the night before, and it is usually easy to find mini tart shells at the stores if your kids don’t mind cold quiche.
I must say I’m a huge fan of peanut butter lunches—for the protein and simplicity of it. Here’s one idea I’ve been using since my daughter was in Kindergarten. Make a protein packed, healthy lunch and bless the teachers and your child by not adding any candy to their lunch. Then [here comes the fun part] add a special note each day, or as often as you can, to their lunch box. We’ve come up with some very fun notes over the years - "smile - it’s picture day, with a picture of a camera", "it’s raining outside but you make my day a rainbow, with rainbow sticky notes", etc… As they’ve grown older, I still place notes in their lunches, but with Scripture references pointing them to their Savior and notes to encourage them to seek Him during their lunch break and for the rest of their afternoon.
I SWEAR by my Pampered Chef "cut n seal". This is the tool that makes your sandwiches "crustless", and makes it like those "uncrustables" that you pay an arm and a leg for in the store!
—peanut butter and honey; peanut butter and bananas; peanut butter and apple butter; peanut butter in celery sticks
—wraps—instead of bread, put their favorite fixins inside a
flour tortilla, wrap up, and go!
—cookie cutter finger sandwiches. Make the sandwich first, tear off crust, and use different cookie cutters to make cute shapes. They like their initials in food, too.
—drink boxes: variety Yoo-Hoos once in while!
—One family I know did this for a week of camp, but it would work for school days as well. Call it Sunday Evening Spread. Put all the big bags of chips, and cookies on the kitchen table and fill little ziploc bags with them. Then put those bags into a big box in the pantry. Pack enough for the week, and all Mom has to do besides making or packing the sandwich or microwaveable leftovers is "grab and pack" the treats.
I love to put dried cranberries on almost all my PB&J’s; they’re best with apricot, raspberry and cherry jam! My mom likes to put marshmallow fluff on hers, as does my brother when he’s allowed to:) I personally think raspberry jam is best with this.
My mom used to use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes in our sandwich bread. She would buy lots of interesting shapes and animals and surprise us with which one would be used to magically transform our food each day of the week. She also used to include a small note of love or encouragement attached to a piece of candy. Both were great ideas and made me look forward to opening my lunch (even if it was the same type of lunch meat and candy everyday, there was still an element of surprise!)
Putting M&M’s or potato chips in a sandwich make for a nice surprise. (You would probably only want to do this once in a while) It also adds a little variety to have leftovers from last night’s supper for your lunch. It also prevents disliked leftover nights or refrigerator meals.
My mom used to hide notes in different parts of my lunch like in the inside of my thermos lid. She even went so far as hiding one in the MIDDLE of my Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. Thankfully, I noticed it after the first bite or two.
This is the best sandwich ever, I haven’t met a kid, dad, mom, sister or brother that didn’t like it. It is from my friend Debi. Two pieces white bread, strawberry jam on one side of bread with fresh sliced strawberries on top of that peanut butter on the one side of bread with roasted peanuts on the top. Put together. I have made these for bridal, baby showers even sold out of them at a street fair once. Cut them into fours for a fancier look.