We try to eat lunch at 11 at our house. I know, I know, super early, but you have to remember most of the time, our day starts soon after 6. Plus, if the 3 littlest Ferguson’s are going to be awake in time to go get big sis from school during the school year, we need to be in the habit of going down to naps by 12:15!
Lunch has to be easy and it has to be QUICK! Most of the time, we eat the supper leftovers from nights past, but sometimes we get tired of that, or I want to save the leftovers to use as another supper. And, you can seriously only do PB&J on whole wheat bread so many times before it becomes monotonous….well, at least Ty thinks so!
Ty: “Aw Mom! Peanut butter and Jelly AGAIN?????”
Below I have compiled a list of ideas for quick lunches, thinking “outside the box”. And I do mean box. We lovingly call boxed meals Cardboard Food due to its lack of nutritional value. Ooo, there is nothing I hate more than “kid food”! You know, mac n cheese, hotdogs, those skinny carboardish freezer pizzas, spaghetti o’s, peanut butter & sugar-loaded jelly on white bread. Now don’t get me wrong, I have been known to do corn dogs, chicken nuggets or fish sticks for a fast emergency lunch, or mac n cheese from the box for a “special treat”….which by the way, they love better than homemade…WHAT?! Why do I bother???? The point is, I try not to make it a “regular” on the lunch rotation.
We expect our kids to eat the same things we do, and since its never been an option any other way, they eat it, and they LIKE it! Destiny was eating, fresh from the garden, tomato sandwiches with sweet onion and a slice of cheese on wheat bread when she was 2 years old. She didn’t know kids weren’t supposed to like that stuff!
I have scoured the web and my recipe box to compile a list of simple lunches for you. Now, some of these lunches I’ve listed, require a bit of prep work on your part, like cooking and cubing chicken, or browning hamburger the night before, ugh. BUT, once they are done, they can be put in Tupperware and frozen until you are ready to use them in the weeks to come!!!! Score! I for sure try to do more of the lunches listed below when Dale is home for the weekend….I doubt he’d be impressed with my PB&J skills!
I wish had photos of all these, but I do not, so, just use your imagination as you read the recipes:
Pizzawiches, serve with salad and applesauce.
The night before, brown: 1 lb. hamburger, 1 lb. sausage, with 1 chopped onion. Drain. Stir in 1 tsp. Oregano, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, 1 can tomato soup, 1 lb. mozzarella cheese. This makes a big batch, so store in Tupperware in the fridge or divide and freeze in freezer bags for another time! Before lunch, slice open a whole wheat english muffin or hamburger buns, spread with a nice amount of meat mixture on each side of the bread and broil until done. Serve open-faced. Fast and delicious!
Ham Roll Ups, serve with Snow peas and grapes.
Spread a thick-cut piece of ham with plain or veggie cream cheese, add a dill or sweet pickle spear, then roll up. Your kids will think this is sooo cool!
Mix: 7 oz. canned tuna, 1 c. diced celery, 1/4 cup miracle whip, 1/2 grated cheese, 1 small minced onion, salt and pepper to taste. Place tuna mixture on whole wheat hamburger buns and wrap as many as you’’ll need in foil. Throw them in the toaster oven at 350* for 20 minutes while you clean up toys for lunch and viola’, lunch is served! Store tuna mixture in Tupperware and make fresh sandwiches again, another day.
Grandma’s Egg Salad: 6 eggs hard-boiled, peeled and roughly chopped. Mix with 1/4 cup Miracle Whip, 1 t. lemon juice, 1 T. relish, 1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce, 1 t. finely chopped onions, 1 1/2 t. yellow mustard, garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste. This can be served in a pita pocket, on whole wheat Ritz crackers, or bread.
PB & H Whole Wheat Tacos, carrot sticks and apples.
Spread Natural Peanut Butter and local honey (great for Spring allergies) on whole wheat tortilla, fold in half and serve like a giant taco. Optional: add raisins inside.
Sprinkle a whole wheat tortilla with Mexican cheese, add any leftover meat (finely diced) and raw veggies you find in the fridge, if available. Add polka dots of taco sauce. Bake until melted. Serve with guacamole and chips. Avo-Guac or Holy Guacamole from the fresh produce section is an easy way to do fresh guacamole, ready to serve, no fakey taste, just real Hass avocados pre cut and smashed for your convenience! It goes on Manager’s Special A LOT! Stock up and freeze.
Cheese Roll Ups, served with refried bean dip and chips and fresh cherry tomatoes on the side.
Wheat tortilla sprinkled with shredded Mexican cheese. Bake until melted, roll up and serve while warm. Open can of refried beans, heat. Stir in a bloop of sour cream and some jarred salsa, to taste. This will help create a creamier dip-like texture for your beans.
Tomato and Cheese Sandwich on Wheat bread
Garden fresh, thick-cut tomatoes, a slice of Colby jack cheese and sweet Vidalia onion slices on Wheat bread spread with miracle whip.
Buy your favorite hummus, or make your own. Cut pita bread pockets into triangles with your pizza cutter. Dip, or spread pita triangles with hummus before serving. Healthy and EASY!!!!!!!
Chicken cubes or sliced turkey, cheese squares, and apple slices.
Cold chicken can taste great! Cook extra seasoned chicken breasts during supper prep, cube and use for this easy lunch. It was really hard for me to get used to doing small, separate foods like this, but it really goes over well . Add a whole wheat roll on the side, if you choose, for your bigger eaters.
Peanut Butter Banana Roll Ups (from A Little Bit Crunchy, A Little Bit Rock n Roll)
Whole wheat tortilla, Natural peanut butter, 1 quarter of a banana cut lengthwise, granola, ground flax-seed, wheat germ, raw honey. Smear, cut, sprinkle, drizzle, roll, and slice.
Red and White Pasta, (from Life As A Lofthouse) served with a side salad or broccoli. (raw or steamed) Sometimes I even stir frozen peas into things like this and let the heat from the casserole thaw them to tender crisp if I don’t have other veggies on hand.
Take 1 pound box Whole Wheat Penne Pasta, cooked and drained, 26 oz. jar meatless Spaghetti Sauce, 16 oz. jar Alfredo Sauce, 3 cups shredded mozzarella Cheese.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil and cook pasta in a large pot of water according to package directions. Drain. In a 9×13 glass baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce on bottom. Pour half of the cooked pasta on top. Pour half the alfredo sauce, half the spaghetti sauce and 1 cup of cheese evenly over pasta. Repeat with remaining pasta, sauces and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until hot & bubbly!
Whole Wheat English Muffin Personal Pizzas, served with baby carrots and Applesauce.
Set out different “pizza-ish” ingredients: a little sauce, some leftover ground hamburger, mini pepperoni’s, chicken, ham cubes, veggies from the bottom of the veggie bin, mozzarella cheese……and let your kids decorate their own. My kids LOVE this! Canadian bacon and pineapple is their favorite.
Layer a thin layer of chips and shredded Mexican cheese on a Pampered Chef stone or cookie sheet, next add another layer of chips, a generous layer of more cheese, shredded chicken or leftover ground beef, a rinsed and drained can of black beans if you don’t have meat ready. Add any veggies floating around in the veggie bin: peppers, green onion, cilantro, tomatoes, even carrot shreds. Drizzle with taco sauce and bake until melted. Serve while hot with seasoned sour cream. (I do Pampered Chef’s Southwest Seasoning, or 1/2 a packet of Taco seasoning, or cumin. Makes it extra good! OR mix Ranch dressing with mild salsa and make a Texas Ranch sauce to drizzle over the whole thing.) Serve hot or it sets up and gets hard!
Turkey Sticks, serve with grape tomatoes and a fruit cup.
Spread veggie cream cheese on a whole wheat bread stick and wrap it with several pieces of turkey, to cover cream cheese.
Cubed, cold, previously cooked and seasoned chicken breasts, raw snow peas. (both items are good dipped in ranch) Give your kids a toothpick for an extra fun chicken eating experience! Serve with Organic vanilla yogurt, layered in-between granola and fresh fruit or frozen berries (thawed) for “dessert”.
Scrambled Egg sandwiches with orange slices.
We do scrambled eggs with melted cheese, mayo and ketchup on wheat bread. The kids LOVE them! Reminds me of my childhood, we had these a lot too!
(photo by Taste of Home)
Egg In A Hole
(photo by Country Living)
Butter one slice of bread. Cut large circle out of the middle. (a biscuit cutter works great) Place bread in hot skillet or on hot griddle. Place one egg (can be beaten if you prefer scrambled eggs) in center. Cook until egg is set on both sides. Serve with yogurt. Breakfast for lunch is FUN!
- Juice “punch” or “cocktails” are little more than glorified soda. Even drinks labeled as juice may have only a small percentage of real fruit. Buy 100 percent fruit juice (NOT COCKTAIL) when you have the choice, but mostly, just promote water at meal time! Save juice for a “special treat”.
- A truly healthy bread should be more than just mitts to hold a sandwich’s contents. Buy whole grains and especially look for whole wheat. (or make your own!) Try to mix it up a bit: look for oat, corn, multi-seeded breads. Whole Wheat Tortillas and pita pockets can also be used as great alternatives to slices of bread. Mini sandwiches on wheat rolls make lunchtime seem more fun.
- Have your children come up with their own creative sandwiches. Give them a choice of breads (i.e. whole wheat), sandwich fixings (i.e., tuna), and then add some unlikely but healthy additions (ie grated almonds or craisins). Little ones especially will love the fun possibilities.
Growing bodies (and developing taste buds) should be encouraged to eat a variety of nutritious and tasty things at lunch. We believe picky eaters are MADE, not born. At our house, if you don’t finish it for lunch, it follows you to snack time! Plus, I am not a short-order cook, everyone eats the same meal, no exceptions!
Hopefully this gives you some new ideas to make lunch prep fun again! I’d love to hear some of your favorite “go to” lunches when you are in a rut or short on time.