Tuesday, September 10, 2013

school lunches

With Owen entering school things have changed quite a bit for him, all of which I’m pleased to report are positive & exciting. As a parent though, the biggest change we’ve undergone is having to make school lunches. We’ve been fortunate enough to have spent the past 3 years sending Owen to a child care that prepared meals on-site. Naturally, bringing a lunch has its limitations, sorry Owen, no more piping hot Sheppard’s Pie and Mac n’ Cheese. Just before he left his child care I asked for photocopies of their monthly menu plans to try my best to find items easily transferable to a lunch box and, luckily, many were. I also researched on Pinterest, but if you do a keyword search for school lunches you’ll find some of the most artistic and totally unachievable on a daily basis examples where people dress up food into art. I believe food should be fun, but maybe I’m just a little lazy to ever imagine it would be possible to carve Kawaii radishes daily for a lunch box. What I decided to do was get Owen involved in making items for his lunch to get him interested in what he was eating. We started by trying these Zucchini, Banana and Flax Muffins from Everyday Food magazine September 2011. In some of my entries for the past 2 years I’ve shared how Owen is always a willing participant when it comes to baking and having a helper and kitchen baking buddy is so much fun. Here he is with a job custom-made for a three year old, mashing bananas.

It’s pretty funny, I’ve had to give Owen a little lunch demonstration every morning. I want to be sure he can open all the containers and he knows which item goes with what. For example, I gave him hummus with veggies, but his orange slices were also in the same cooler bag, so I did my best to explain that the orange slices aren’t very tasty with hummus. It all got eaten, so I’m assuming it’s working. 

Because we’re new to this and are always looking for more ideas, if you have any to share – please do! In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few simple and mostly healthy school lunch ideas we’ve put together as a starting point for reference. Right now I’m attempting to keep all lunches to finger foods just to make it simple to start. Some of the listed items require a fork & spoon, but all can be eaten cold. Photos and much reference courtesy of where else but the ever resourceful Martha Stewart. 

Bagel with Cream Cheese
Bean and Cheese Quesadilla
Pea Butter and Jam Rolls / Sandwich
Ham & Cheese / Turkey Ranch/ Chicken / Tuna / Salmon Salad Sandwich
Savoury Waffle Sticks
Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Brown Rice
Homemade Pizza
English Muffins with Ham and Cheese
Whole Wheat Croissant with Ham and Cheese
Fried Rice
Chicken and Vegetable Stir-fry with Brown Rice
Macaroni and Cheese
Avocado Sandwich / Open Face Toast (dying to try this one with Owen)
Leftovers Pita in a Pocket (such as a slice of meatloaf)
Tortellini with Peas
Chicken Fingers with Plum Sauce
Mini Turkey Meatballs w/ Bocconcini, Garlic Bread and Marinara Dip
Crepe Roll Ups (Sweet - Pea Butter and Jam or Savoury - Ham and Cheese)
Sweet or Savoury Hand Pies
Broccoli & Pasta Salad

Snacks / Sides:
Dried fruit
Tortilla Cups with Yogurt and Fresh Fruit
Toasted Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Pita Triangles with Yogurt Dip
Graham Cracker Sandwiches with Mashed Fruit Blended with Cream Cheese
Veggie Sticks with Ranch Dip
Homemade Oatmeal / Pea Butter / Chocolate Chip Cookies
Whole Wheat Tortillas Pinwheels with Apple Butter
Pitas Wedges / Pita Bites with Tzatziki or Hummus
Fresh Fruit & Dip
Applesauce Pouch
Banana Bread
Muffins (Raisin Bran, Blueberry)
Homemade Trail Mix with Yogurt
Ants on a Log
String Cheese
Yogurt Tubes
Whole Wheat Crackers with Pea Butter or Cheese Cubes
Digestive Cookies / Arrowroots
English Muffin with Jam
Rice Cakes
Fruit Leather
Frozen Fruit (grapes and sliced bananas)
Popcorn Balls

If I have time later I'll link to some of these recipes online

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