Sunday, October 13, 2013
Lunch Box Ideas
Forget the old brown bag with peanut butter sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper. LOL! When I was a child there were the old type of lunchboxes.
Men used to carry their lunches in these "industrial" lunch boxes.
But today we have a vast array of lunchboxes that will keep your food fresh, hot or cold, and easy to keep clean. Soft sided ones can be thrown in the washing machine.
Invest in some of these lunch box coolers and some small ice packs.
You can make your own ice packs with a sealable container or ice in a Ziplock bag. Just fill the container halfway with water and let it freeze over night or toss some ice cubes in the Ziplock bag.
Then look for reuseable containers and insulated containers that will help keep your food hot or cold.
If there is an available microwave then having something to keep your food hot in is not necessary and you can use ice packs for keeping foods cold. But if there is no microwave available then insulated thermoses are a good investment. If you purchase these containers then be sure to put your name and phone # (or teacher and room #) on it with a permanent Sharpie pen in case they start getting lost.
Of course, if your child or hubby just won't keep up with these containers and bring them home or you don't want to wash them, don't waste your money on them.
Use tin foil, waxed paper, plastic baggies, styrofoam cups and their lids, or the cheaper containers from Glad and Ziplock. You can even collect containers from your fast food purchases if you want cheap.
Styrofoam cups, boxes, plastic forks/knives/spoons, straws, etc. There are sugar and creamer packs, salt and pepper packs, mayo and ketchup packs that come with take out too.
(Now, I'm NOT espousing stealing these items without purchase, only re-use of items after purchase.) My Grandmother used to do this. So she washed and re-used butter tubs, jars, styrofoam cups, etc and kept a drawer full of ketchup packs and stuff. I don't usually do this myself. I only keep it if it's a particularly useful container. For instance I love a local restaurant's noodle bowls. When we get it for takeout, they put the soup in a nice large plastic container (they put all the fixings for the noodle bowl in a separate styrofoam box).
I keep those containers because they are perfect for keeping leftover soup. They are a quality container. If you keep up with them and really use them, then go for it! It can save you money! But if you are starting a collection and it gets out of hand, then you are hoarding and it's time to quit! Be practical. If it's useful then it's worth it. If it's clutter and in the way, then remember that it's trash and throw it away!
Japanese Bento Box
Take some inspiration from the Japanese Bento Boxes. A Bento Box is a really elegant, well planned, well packed boxed lunch.
The main thing to keep in mind is what makes a healthy lunch, whether this is for yourself at the office, your husband at the construction site, your children at school or a picnic for the whole family! When packing a lunch be sure to include enough protein, a fruit, a vegetable, a carbohydrate and a little sweet treat.
Here are some new ideas for lunch box lunches!
Corn Dog Muffins
2 (8.5 ounce) packages cornbread mix
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
9 hot dogs, cut in half
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease muffin tins.
2.Stir together the cornbread mix and the brown sugar in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs and milk in a small bowl until smooth. Fold the eggs and cheese into the dry mixture until moistened. Spoon mixture into muffin tins until 2/3 full. Add 1 hot dog half to each muffin.
3.Bake in a preheated oven 14 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
4 carrots, shredded
1 apple - peeled, cored and shredded
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
salt and pepper to taste
1.In a bowl, combine the carrots, apple, lemon juice, honey, almonds, salt and pepper. Toss and chill before serving.
Turkey Wrap Sandwiches
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese with chives
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
6 (8 inch) whole wheat tortillas
1 1/2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
12 slices thinly sliced deli turkey
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1 large avocado, sliced
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1. Mix together the cream cheese and Dijon mustard until smooth. Spread each tortilla with about 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture, spreading to within 1/4 inch of the edge of the tortillas.
2. Arrange about 1/4 cup of shredded lettuce on each tortilla, and press the lettuce down into the cream cheese mixture. Place 2 turkey slices per tortilla over the lettuce, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of shredded Swiss cheese. Top each tortilla evenly with tomato, avocado slices, and crumbled bacon.
3. Roll each tortilla up tightly, and cut in half across the middle with a slightly diagonal cut.
1/2 cup uncooked alphabet pasta
3 (14.5 ounce) cans beef broth
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. in a large saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Drain pasta; stir into soup.
Apple Avocado Salad with Tangerine Dressing
1 (10 ounce) package baby greens
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 apple - peeled, cored and sliced
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
4 mandarin oranges, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
1. In a large bowl, toss together the baby greens, red onion, walnuts, blue cheese, and lemon zest. Mix in the apple and avocado just before serving.
2. In a container with a lid, mix the mandarin orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, olive oil, and salt. Drizzle over the salad as desired.
Baked Sweet Potato Sticks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
8 sweet potatoes, sliced lengthwise into quarters
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. In a large bowl, mix olive oil and paprika. Add potato sticks, and stir by hand to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
3. Bake 40 minutes in the preheated oven.
Busy Day Lunch Salad
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 tomato, cut into small dice
1/4 red onion, minced
1 canned heart of palm, minced
1/3 cup grated reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1. Toss the garbanzo beans, tomato, onion, heart of palm, mozzarella cheese, thyme, olive oil, and lemon juice together in a bowl until evenly mixed. Season with salt and pepper and retoss.
Chicken and Rice Soup
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 pound boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and diced
3 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1/2 cup water
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
3/4 cup converted long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons lemon and herb seasoning
1. Combine celery, chicken pieces, chicken broth, water, mixed vegetables, rice, parsley and herb seasoning in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on low 6 to 8 hours. If soup is too thick, add more water to dilute and allow 15 minutes of additional cooking time.
Drop Dead Tuna Salad
4 (6 ounce) cans tuna, drained
1 lemon, juiced
2 cups mayonnaise
4 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the tuna, lemon juice, mayonnaise, celery and pickle relish. Mix together well and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Garden Fresh Tomato Soup
4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 slice onion
4 whole cloves
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white sugar, or to taste
1. In a stockpot, over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, cloves and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Remove from heat and run the mixture through a food mill into a large bowl, or pan. Discard any stuff left over in the food mill.
2. In the now empty stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Season with sugar and salt, and adjust to taste.
Make Ahead Lunch Wraps
2 cups uncooked brown rice
4 cups water
4 (15 ounce) cans black beans
2 (15.5 ounce) cans pinto beans
1 (10 ounce) can whole kernel corn
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
16 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 pound shredded pepperjack cheese
1. Combine rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, and cool.
2. Place black beans and pinto beans into a colander or strainer, and rinse. Add corn and diced tomatoes with green chilies, and toss to mix. Transfer to a large bowl, and mix in rice & cheese.
3. Divide the mixture evenly among the tortillas, and roll up. Wrap individually in plastic wrap, place into a large freezer bag, and freeze. Reheat as needed in the microwave for lunch or snacks.
Peanut Butter and Apple Sandwiches
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 tablespoon peanut butter, or to taste
1 small apple - peeled, cored and shredded
1. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter onto one side of each slice of bread. Place shredded apple onto the peanut butter, and place the other peanut buttered side of bread on top. Serve immediately.
Salad de Colores
1 bunch fresh spinach - torn, washed and dried
1/2 medium head red cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
1 ounce pumpkin seeds (optional)
1. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, cabbage, carrots and bell pepper. Add enough salad dressing to coat. Toss, and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and salt and pepper if desired.
Split Pea Soup with Tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
4 small red potatoes, diced
1 cup peeled, diced carrots
1 pound dry green split peas
4 cups vegetable broth
1 (16 ounce) package soft tofu
1 (6 ounce) bag fresh spinach, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion and garlic until tender.
2. In a large pot, mix the onion mixture, potatoes, carrots, and split peas. Pour in the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 1 hour.
3. In a blender or food processor, blend the tofu and spinach until creamy, and mix into the pot. Season with basil, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking 1 hour. If the soup becomes too thick, add water. Serve hot and enjoy.
Ham Salad Rolls
2 cups diced ham
1 rib celery, cut up
1 onion slice, about 1/4-inch thick
6 to 8 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced sweet pickles or sweet pickle relish
1 to 2 teaspoons sweet pickle juice, optional
1 hard-cooked egg, diced
soft rolls, split
In a food processor, combine the ham, celery, onion, and pickles or pickle relish. Pulse until minced; transfer to a bowl. Mix in mayonnaise until well-moistened, along with sweet pickle juice, if using. Add pepper, to taste, and stir in the diced hard-cooked egg. Arrange lettuce on rolls; fill with the ham salad. Serve with chips or French fries and pickle slices or sliced tomatoes. Serves 6.
Corned Beef Sandiches
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 lb. lean corned beef, sliced
8 slices rye bread, lightly toasted
3/4 cup Thousand Island dressing
1/2 cup dill relish
1/2 lb. shredded Swiss cheese
1-1/2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
Melt butter in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add corned beef, in batches if necessary, and cook 5 minutes, until edges begin to curl. Spread dressing on bread. Layer corned beef on 4 slices bread. Layer with relish, cheese and lettuce and top with remaining bread. Cut sandwiches in half before serving.
Other quick ideas for lunch boxes:
* Cottage cheese topped with canned fruit and topped with some seeds or nuts
* Bite sized raw vegetables with their favorite salad dressing for dipping
* Corn salad (canned corn mixed with chopped green pepper and onion, olive oil, lemon juice)
* Cheese cubes
* Apple slices with peanut butter
* Fresh fruit like grapes, tangerine, oranges, apples, banana. You can send them as a whole or cut them up and send on skewers or in a bowl with nuts and a dollop of vanilla yogurt.
* Mini pizzas. If they have a microwave available then cut a bagel or English muffin in half and put a little bottled pizza sauce on it. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese on top and add a topping if you like.
* Leftovers - Got some meatballs left over, make a meatball sandwich! Have some salmon patties left over, include one in a sandwich with some flavored mayo! Have a chicken leg leftover, send it for lunch. Or pull chicken off the bone and make a chicken sandwich. Got part of a steak leftover, slice it and put a little horseradish sauce on it for a lunch or sandwich.
* Loaded baked potato
* A slice of congealed salad
* Wrap Up Sandwiches - Using tortillas place some sour cream and salsa on it and top with turkey and provolone cheese and wrap it up. Or add some mayo with ham and cheese topped with a little lettuce. Maybe some slice ham and turkey with mayo and mustard and some alfalfa sprouts.
* Cheese and crackers or Peanut Butter and crackers
* Jello or pudding
* Apple sauce
* Freeze ice cream in a lunchbox container over night and it's just right for lunch.
* Dried fruit chips
* Hard boiled eggs
* Use a leftover hot dog bun or hamburger bun to make a "deli" sandwich
* String cheese
* Egg salad sandwiches
* BabyBel cheese
* Take any juice, tea, lemonade, Koolaid and fill a bottle halfway. Put in your freezer over night and place in lunch box. By lunch it should be thawed and cold.
* Milk or chocolate milk. Keep cold with a lunch box sized freezer pack.
* Bottled juice
* Hot chocolate
If your children are hard to please, it may help to dress the food up a little. Make it fun. Fun food may excite them. You can also make food fun by getting the kids involved in making their own lunch. Let them make the Ants On A Log or their own peanut butter sandwich. Or letting them make choices from a pre-determined list.
Use cookie cutters to make special sandwiches
You can take it one step further by including a little secret note to your loved one. An "I Love You" or "Have a great day!" or "Never give up!". Just a little something to perk up the day. Don't embarrass them. You might even make it a game. For instance, a Find-The-Note game. Or if you include a candy or a piece of chewing gum it means "I Love You". An inside message that only they would recognize.
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