School has been back is session for half a school year now and, if your kids are like most kids, the lunches they bring from home are starting to get a little boring. Here are some things to do with your child to get them smiling about bringing ‘cold’ school lunches.
‘Baby’ them – let the kiddos go with you to the store. Your objective? To find as many ‘baby’ foods as possible. Now, I’m not talking about baby food, but miniature foods that can go into lunches and get eaten quickly. Look for grape tomatoes, miniature bananas, Clementines or tangerines (little oranges), mini packs of tuna, cheese sticks and anything else that looks kid-sized.
‘Stuff’ it – pita bread makes great sandwich bread for school lunches. You or the kids can stuff it with ham, egg or tuna salad, a vegetable blend or make a kind of grilled cheese-tomato pita. But there are other things you can stuff – the kids can take zucchini or squash and cut it in half, gutt it and stuff it with a blend of ham or sausage, cheese, tomatoes, onion and the original vegetable. Then, have them wrap it in foil and cook until the outer veggie is soft, then refrigerate. They’re great as school lunches because they’re either finger food or fork food.
A ‘chip’ off the old block – let the kids help you make your own chips.
Potato – peel and slice 1/8” thick. Have you child spray a cookie sheet with baking oil, and then spray the tops of potatoes (as you see Soph doing in the picture to your left). Bake 400° for 12-15 minutes. Season immediately. You can use salt, pepper, onion or garlic salt, Parmesan cheese, cinnamon and sugar or whatever your child wants to try.
Sweet Potatoes – Slice very thinly. Spray cookie sheet with oil and place potato slices in single layer, then spray tops with oil. Bake 425° for 25-35 minutes. Season immediately as above.
Zucchini or yellow squash – cut thinly and dip in beaten egg whites, then flour. You can mix the flour with parmesan cheese, onion or garlic powder or anything else the kids think will taste good. Bake in a single layer in a 325° oven for 20 minutes.
If you really get into making your own chips or want to dehydrate your own fruit, consider either buying a dehydrator or making your own (another great project for you and the kids). Alton Brown has a great homemade dehydrator, plus ways to dehydrate your fruit.
‘Play it again’ –Slip a note into the kid’s lunches, or let them help you choose crossword puzzles, word games or color pages off the internet. Remind them that food is first, play is next. If you see they’re not eating enough, discontinue the activities. My kids don’t get much time at lunch, but, in addition to a sweet treat (like fun size candy bar, or a chocolate covered granola bar), I throw in a not on occasion.
Lunches don’t have to be dull, not even at school. Think about what your kids like to eat at home and at restaurants and try to recreate that flavor for their lunches. It might take some brainstorming, but between you and your child, you can fancy up those cold lunches so they’re not so boring.
Happy Family Cooking!
Alex, Soph and Mom
P.S. Don’t miss next week’s 2 Kids Cooking TV when Alex and Soph share one of our school lunches that they both love!