I love packing lunch for the kiddos.
Truth: There was a time that my kids didn’t want to bring lunch. They would complain and say that none of their friends brought lunch anymore to school and that it was just easier to buy something in the canteen.
Fortunately, they see the love and care that I put into their food everyday and they have come to appreciate the effort. Gia has often said that her friends remark on her lunch, how healthy it is, and how lucky she is that I still enjoy packing her lunch for her. I’m so grateful for that shift in her prespective, because it has even rubbed off a bit on her brothers as well.
I thought I would share some of my favorite lunches to pack for my kiddos, so that you might be inspired to change up what you are already packing in the lunch boxes for your kids. One of my biggest challenges is finding inspiration in what to pack for the kids. I look to other mommas for inspiration, whether it be simple recipes or even creative additions to make the kids’ lunches a little bit more interesting.
If you do pack lunch, then I’m sure you have a favorite container. Our favorite containers are Easy Lunchboxes. They are easy to store, east to reheat, and easy to clean. I LOVE EASY. (Remember, I’m a mom of four.) EASY is necessary! Our favorite drink containers are Klean Kanteens.
We love Sheperd’s Pie. This is a simple recipe using the ground beef, celery, carrots and a bit of tomato paste. Top it with the fresh mashed potatoes and the kids are super happy. I just had to wait a little while before the aluminum foil containers cooled a bit so I could place them in the containers. On this day, I made the ground beef mixture before hand, and then the morning of, I made the fresh mashed potatoes, baked while I was making brekkie, and then packed in their lunch boxes.
It’s actually pretty easy to pack lunches if you plan properly. I know that when I make pasta for dinner the night before, the leftovers will double as lunch. Even as a family of six, we can’t finish a whole pound (or 500grams) of pasta, so it’s a good system that makes my life easier if I bring out the lunch boxes when clearing the table for dinner. I put the pasta directly into the containers and store in the fridge so all I have to do in the morning is heat them up, and then fill in the dessert and fruit compartments.
Most times, I will have two or three different pasta sauces in the freezer or fridge at one time. When I make a batch of fresh pesto, it’s usually way more than we will use for one pound of pasta. I think I saw somewhere on Pinterest that you can freeze pesto in an ice cube tray and just pull out cubes based on how much pasta you have on hand. Pasta pesto, sliced and fried sausage and a pretty checkerboard apple make this lunch fun for the kids but hearty enough to keep them going all the way till the end of the day. (Other easy to make and freeze sauces are marinara, meatballs with gravy, and bolognese.) Creamy sauces are hard to freeze-so I usually make those on the same day I will pack it in the lunch.
Sometimes, the night before school, if the kids really enjoyed dinner they will request to make sure what goes inside their lunch box. On this particular day, I roasted a bunch of veggies as a side dish for dinner that night. Gia requested that I make a roasted vegetable creamy soup the next day for lunch since it had been so rainy…that was very easy to do. I just warmed up the veggies with some garlic, onion, and cream, and then I put it in the blender. Add buttery garlic croutons from day old bread and they were happy!
When I talk about appliances that make my life easier, I can’t forget to mention my bread maker. I picked up my bread maker at the suggestion of a good friend. We have this place we like to go to for deals and steals. It was the best investment I ever made! We have experimented with all types of breads and the kids really enjoy the idea that their bread comes from home on those days when it’s included in their lunch.
This being said, I also hate to see things go to waste. So-if we have some bread or crusts that haven’t been sent in the lunch box, it’s very easy to butter, toast, and turn them into croutons, or garlic sticks, bread pudding, or even bread crumbs. Waste not…Want not…
But even on days when I’m feeling a little lazy, there are so many near by bake shops that I can pick up a few pieces to put in the lunch box without feeling guilty. I try to keep it as natural as possible when I pack…but every once and while it’s ok for me to give them something that is store bought. Those are the days I try to make it up with lots of fresh fruit. In this pic above, they had kiwi, cherries, apples and grapes. It makes me feel less guilty about not putting forth so much effort.
Truth is…they like most anything that I pack for them. I push the envelope every now and then. I know this kid of mine doesn’t like carrot sticks so much….the other kid of mine says apples make her throat scratchy… and yet the other kid complains if the bread is not soft enough…I know what they like, what they don’t like, and what they need to work in their diet. I want to make it easy on them, easy on myself, and of course healthy in the process.
After all, I know that I am building their future eating habits with something as simple as packing their lunch boxes now…