7 Back to School Lunch Tips

August 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

Independence High School's cafeteria during lunch.
Image via Wikipedia

Another great Lunchtime article! Enjoy!

Don’t look now, but school’s here! Are you ready for one of the biggest challenges for Moms of school-age kids – preparing school lunches day after day?

There’s hope and help for you yet. Here are 7 back-to-school lunch tips. Hey, I can’t come over and make your kids’ lunches for you, but these tips will surely make it much easier:

1. Make dinner do double-duty

You’re already in the kitchen preparing your family’s dinner, why not use that time to get a head-start on the next day’s brown bag lunches?

Make a double batch of meals that taste just as good “the morning after,” you know, like fried chicken. Or cook dishes that can be transformed into something “new”, such as pasta sauce that’s just as yummy as pizza topping (on ready-made crust of course).

To make meal planning easier, take a look at Dine Without Whine. It’s a monthly service for planning your family’s meals and grocery shopping.

2. Include lunches when meal planning

To do tip #1, you need to be more organized. This means including your kids’ lunches when planning your family dinners.

3. Let the kids participate

Lighten your load and teach your children some important life skills at the same time. Even small children can help prepare their lunches.

If morning is too stressful, then make this an after-dinner activity – which brings us to…

4. Make advance preparations

Do whatever you can do ahead of time. For example, cook in batches on the weekend, or put leftovers in packable containers the night before.

5. DIY fast food

Commercial packed lunches are attractive but unhealthy. But who says you can’t make your own? Buy your own colorful and attractive lunch boxes, such as a bento-style lunchbox.

Fill it up with a variety of healthy food. Think of mixing up foods with different textures and colors. And cut them up into small pieces so they’re easy and fast to eat.

6. Soup it Up

Soup makes a quick and healthy lunch. You can cook a large pot in the weekend and pack it in a thermos for a warm and satisfying lunch. Serve with whole wheat bread and some fresh fruit and you’ve got a complete meal!

7. Sprinkle in some fun

Sneak a little surprise into your child’s lunchbox once in a while. It could be a little chocolate treat, stickers, or a sweet note from you. Getting something unexpected makes lunch fun.

With planning and creativity, your children can have healthy, delicious lunches without too much work for you.

For meal planning help, go to Dine Without Whine. It makes meal planning a breeze, while helping you save time and money.

Then you’ll have time and energy for those school lunches.

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School lunches

July 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

School lunch
Image by chidorian via Flickr

This is a great article about school lunches but don’t ignore it if you don’t have kids in school yet! Print off this list of lunch ideas and keep it for your home lunches too! Enjoy!

School Lunches
by Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam of LivingonaDime.com

It’s that wonderful time of year that lightens your heart and fills your soul with peace & tranquility. No, I’m not talking about Christmas! I’m talking about school starting!! Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s a bitter sweet time for most moms. Bitter because you’re back to hectic mornings, finding everyone’s books and papers and trying to get them out of the door on time… because you now have 180 lunches to make over the next 9 months if you have 1 child and 720 if you have 4 — But hey, who’s counting? It is sweet because the peaceful quietness that penetrates the house is like gentle music to your ears and you can take a lovely relaxing bubble bath without what sounds like the whole US army trying to break down the bathroom door. Well, now that I think about it I’ve not known many moms that had the luxury of a bubble bath in the middle of the day but I can dream can’t I? I can’t help you find time for that bubble bath but maybe I can help you with those 720 lunches. Here are a few lunch and snack ideas from Dining On A Dime Cookbook to help out.

*To keep drinks cold in lunch boxes, pour a small amount in the bottom of the container (not glass) and then set the cap loosely on top. Put it in the freezer overnight. The next day fill with the rest of the drink. The ice should slowly melt all day long, keeping the beverage cool.

*Save the catsup and mustard packets and napkins you don’t use from the fast food restaurants. Use them in lunch boxes.

*Puddings – sprinkle with marshmallows, coconut, nuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips or peanut butter chips (for chocolate pudding) or berries (in vanilla pudding)

*Banana, pumpkin or zucchini bread

*Tuna, egg or chicken salad sandwich

*Tuna salad and crackers

*Sandwiches made from last night’s dinner meat (ie. roast beef, chicken ,turkey)


*Ants on a log-celery with peanut butter inside and raisins on the peanut butter

*Hot dogs

*Canned fruit

*Carrot sticks, celery sticks or radishes with Ranch dressing

*Homemade granola bars

Granola Bars

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup sugar

½ cup butter or margarine, softened

2 Tbsp. honey

½ tsp. vanilla

1 egg

1 cup flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

1 ½ cups rolled oats

1 ¼ cups crispy rice cereal

½ cup wheat germ (optional)

1 cup chocolate chips*

In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter until fluffy. Add honey, vanilla and egg. Mix well. Blend in flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir in remaining ingredients. Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350< for 20-25 minutes.

To microwave: Press ingredients into a microwave safe dish. Microwave on medium power for 7-9 minutes. Rotate dish every three minutes. Bars will firm as they stand. Cool and cut into bars. Save the crumbs for yogurt or ice cream topping. Makes 24 bars

*The following may be used in addition to or to replace chocolate chips

1 cup coconut

½ cup creamy or chunky peanut butter

½ cup nuts

½-1 cup raisins, dried apples, apricots

½ cup fruit preserves

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit www.LivingOnADime.com

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The lunch dilemna

January 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Great Ideas

laptop_lunchbox 2008.02.19

Image by amanky via Flickr

Are your kids sick of eating the same old sandwiches for lunch? Here are some ideas for cool lunch ideas your kids will love:

Fruit And Waffle Brunch
When it comes to lunch, think outside the box and pack your child a brunch instead. Simply heat some frozen waffles and cut into strips. Have separate dishes of fruit and dips for the waffles for a snazzy brunch table. Just pack up the waffle slices and everything in small containers for a great brunch on the go!

Then, slice up your childís favorite fruit (may have to put some lemon juice on top to avoid browning). Need a fun dip idea? Peanut butter makes a great dip for many types of fruit and is packed with protein.

Mini Party Platter
Kids love to eat snacks, so why not create a healthy lunch that looks like a big snack? To assemble, cube turkey or ham from the deli, slice up some cheese and donít forget to add some mulit-grain crackers. Add in some baby carrots along with some celery and bell pepper slices and you have a great lunch!

Not Your Average Sandwich
Instead of using bread, make your childís sandwich with a bagel. All you need to is spread each side with cream cheese and top with your favorite lunch meat. Add some veggies for extra credit.

Wrapped In Style
Why settle for a standard sandwich when you can wrap it in style? Your choices are limitless, as any sandwich can be turned into a wrap. For starters, here’s a quick and easy BLT wrap:

Spread some cream cheese on a whole wheat flour tortilla. Top with some sliced tomatoes, mixed salad greens, cooked and crumbled bacon, and some low fat ranch salad dressing. Roll the tortilla up tightly. Need to take it along for a play date? Place some frozen juice boxes in a sealed plastic bag in your lunch box.

Here’s a fun idea for lunch – a Bento Box. Adding something simple like this in addition to your creative lunch foods will make lunchtime more fun AND healthy!

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