Well, school is upon us. My children go to a school with no cafeteria which means I pack lunches every. single. day. I have a few lunch ideas if you pack your students lunches (or even if you pack your own lunch). One is super fun and not too difficult as well as two practical ideas.
I always start the school year off with the best of intentions. I want my kids lunches to be healthy and delicious, preferable not monotonous, etc… By the time May rolls around my kids are lucky if they get something in addition to a pb&j and a banana, but I digress.
The first idea is spring rolls. Spring rolls are delicious and you can put anything your heart desires in them. We made ours with lettuce, carrots, cilantro, grated cabbage, and sauteed cod. We found the Vietnamese rice wrappers and peanut sauce at an asian market. The process is easier than it seems. I think it helps to lay all of the options out in an assembly line style before you start.
We used a pie pan filled with warm water to moisten the wrappers. You submerge the wrapper until it softens up and gets almost silky in texture. Lift it out of the water and let the excess drip off. Then you just lay your wrapper on a flat plate and place the toppings in the middle. Roll the bottom edge up around the stuffing fold both sides up and continue to roll it to the other edge of the wrapper. The rice paper sticks to itself so it stays together really well you just have to be careful not to fold it in half before you get started.
Delicious!! When you pack this in a lunch box, I would line your container with a lettuce leaf to keep the wrapper from sticking to the container.
While it’s fun to pack a colorful lunch that’s full of veggie it’s not always practical. One of the things I like to do is pre-make sandwiches and freeze them. I prefer to use natural almond butter in sandwiches but I absolutely loath having to stir together almond butter that has seperated and is covered in a layer of oil. To remedy this we use the almond butter that you grind fresh at the supermarket and make the sandwiches as soon as we get home. The kids love to help with this, even my five year old! Again, we do assembly line style. We lay out an entire loaf of bread in pairs. One person spreads on the almond butter and another spreads either jelly, banana puree or honey on the other and sandwiches the pieces together. The last person puts the sandwiches in bags and stacks them in the freezer. These keep for a couple of weeks. I just put them in the lunch boxes frozen and by lunch they’re thawed, they also keep everything else cold in the meantime.
The last idea is new to me but we tried it and it’s tasty and super easy, sheet pan meal prep. We used a recipe I found on Pinterest and it was great. Roughly chop a zucchini and a red onion, cut a head of broccoli into florets and cut two chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces. Place all of the ingredients in rows on a sheet pan lined with foil and add a row of cherry tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over the entire pan and season with salt and italian seasoning. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes at 450 degrees. While that is cooking make a batch of rice or quinoa, whatever you choose really. When everything is done you can portion it all out into about 4 or 5 seperate containers starting with a little bit of the rice and topping it with a bit of chicken and each of the veggies. That is a pretty complete meal that you can just stick in a lunch box with a fork and be happy that your kids (or yourself) are getting a tasty and healthy lunch. This would work with several different vegetables as well, you could easily make this work with your families favorites.
Hope these ideas are helpful for you. Packing lunches can be a point of stress but it doesn’t have to be with a little bit of planning.
Hope all is well!! XOXO -Amber