Wednesday, September 05, 2012

{Let's talk lunch}

With both girls taking lunch to school this year I was determined to have less packaging waste and a variety of lunches already thought out and at my disposal.

I still use our bento boxes but added this new lunchbox this year and we love it.
The insulated carrying case is durable, with an erasable white board to leave notes for your kids.  I like leaving little notes so I really like the white board.
The container itself has roomy compartments that are all sealed with silicone bands to make sure no leaks happen, which if you're using dips or sauces this is awesome!

I like to use small little containers within the compartments to separate foods.  I've also found the more fun the lunch looks, the more likely it will be that the lunch will be eaten.

I have a kitchen drawer designated for all the lunch "accessories" which I've collected since I've had kids.  You can find them in numerous places online. 

Below are a ones that I used often:
 -cookie cutters to cut out sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas
-silicone mini muffin cups and small plastic containers used to hold slice fruit, fishes, cheese cubes, etc.
-toothpicks can be used to make fruit kabobs, I put three or four cheese tortellini on each, ham and cheese cubs, etc.
-plastic containers with lids for dips
-clear plastic bottles with lids for more liquid type dips (soy sauce, etc.)
I also have printed out a page of lunch ideas that I can look at when I'm feeling uninspired or for the times when someone else is making their lunches.

Lunchbox ideas:
(All of these ideas start with the same basic approach, a whole wheat or other tortilla, with something spread on it, topped and rolled and cut into 4-6 pieces)

Pizza: marinara sauce, toppings (try sliced olives, spinach, pepperoni and/or roasted peppers) and shredded mozzarella cheese
Taco: cream cheese and salsa mixture, toppings (try shredded lettuce, diced peppers, corn, black beans and/or sliced olives) and shredded cheddar cheese
Mediterranean: hummus, diced cucumber, sliced olives
Ranch: ranch dip (try adding a bit of ranch dressing to cream cheese), shredded carrot, diced chicken, shredded cheddar cheese
Barbecue: barbecue sauce, diced chicken, corn, shredded cabbage or lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese
Pesto: pesto and cream cheese mixture, feta cheese, roasted peppers, sliced olives
Hawaiian: cream cheese, drizzle of barbecue sauce, diced pineapple (squeeze all of the moisture out, or the roll-up will get soggy), diced ham
American: ranch dip, diced smoked turkey, sliced pickles (again, squeeze all of the moisture out), shredded cheddar cheese
Teriyaki: teriyaki sauce, diced chicken, shredded carrot, bell pepper slices, tiny broccoli florets
Ham & Cheese:  sliced or shredded cheddar or American cheese, deli ham

Homemade "Lunchables"

Cheese and Crackers: stacks of cheese, cut into cute shapes or squares the same size as your crackers, whole wheat crackers, sliced meat or pepperoni, cut up fruit
Make-Your-Own Pizzas: mini-pitas (we get ours from Trader Joe's), mini-container of marinara, shredded cheese, pepperoni slices, sliced olives
Make-Your-Own Tacos: tortilla chip bowls (Tostitos makes these), shredded cheddar cheese, salsa
Make-Your-Own Pitas: mini pitas, cut in half, hummus, vegetables, deli meat

*Hummus with pita, sliced carrots, cucumber slices, or the vegetables of your choice
*Peanut butter with whole wheat crackers, apple slices, celery sticks, pretzels
*Barbecue sauce with chicken strips
*Vanilla yogurt with apple slices, crackers or pretzels, or served in a bowl with "toppings" to make a yogurt sundae, such as raisins, dried fruit, granola, coconut
*cream cheese (combined with a bit of ranch dressing to make it more easy to dip), vegetable sticks
*Laughing Cow cheese with whole wheat crackers, vegetables
*caramel dip and apples
*Nutella and strawberries, bananas

*cream cheese with ranch dresses, thinly sliced cucumbers
*butter and jam
*grilled cheese with deli meat (turkey, ham)
-basically any wrap listed above can be made into a sandwich.

Left overs:
Tortellini with left over marinara to dip or pizza sauce
Potstickers and edamame
Pasta salad
Barbecue Pork or Chicken – shredded pork/chicken added into quesadillas
Shredded rotisserie chicken used to make chicken salad

Smoothies in a thermos
Hard Boiled Eggs
Homemade Trail Mix
Mini muffins
Scones and honey butter
frozen gogurt
mini rice cakes

I've  found a lot of resources/ideas online and was appreciative that they took the time to share so I thought I would do the same. 

I'm always open to more lunch suggestions and ideas on how you do your  lunches. Anything you'd like to add?


Heather J said...

I don't have any kids in school yet (my oldest just started preschool) but I love your list of ideas. Thanks! Pinning. :)

Sol said...

I take my own tiffin box to work everyday. Carrot sticks and fat free yoghurt with mint and grated cucumber.

4 cheddars (ritz crackers)

hand full of grapes.

and then a wrap of lots of lettuce, thin sliced onions, piri piri sauce (so hot it makes my lips feel like they have swollen up) and cold bbq chicken souvlaki. using some yoghurt from above to cool it down.

I make the wrap in the lunch room at work as I like to make it then and not before. I fold my tortilla up into a triangle and fit it into a screw top cup.

My tiffin tin looks like this

but it has a thermal outer like a flask to keep it cold or hot.

it was bought in India for me. it is excellent. I highly recommend them if you dont want to use plastic to pack lunches.

Tiffany Tolman said...

Great ideas, Erica. Where can I get those cute bento boxes for the lunch boxes?

Tiffany Tolman said...

Oh I see. It all comes together. Great idea!

Rachel said...

This is an awesome list I am in need of some inspiration for lunches! I was told today by my son that his lunch was "lame", ad he is in first grade. Time to step it up. Where did you order those tiny little containers from. I have searched but maybe I am searching the wrong thing.

Andrea Morris said...

Thanks for all the great ideas :-) I needed the inspiration, I get so sick of the same boring things.