Transforming Lunchtime

For three years I have been packing a cold lunch almost daily for my daughter. It’s become a hobby of mine… a bit of an obsession you might say. I have made countless themed lunches, but let’s get real for a second– It’s April! The school year is almost over and I’m already excited about the schedule-free summer ahead. I’m also finding myself a little less motivated in the morning and rushing to get something thrown together before she walks out the door. Most people who know me would say I don’t ‘throw’ anything together. But I can assure you – more often than not I find myself searching the fridge to figure out what protein and fresh produce we have about 20 minutes before the bell rings for school. There are days that I feel like I’m running out of ideas, and I know there are moms out there tired of making the same peanut butter sandwich or ham and cheese and would like some fresh new ideas to try out to keep the end of the year as exciting as the beginning.

Before I share all my secrets, I first have to say that I let our lunchbox do all the work. I’m a loyal Planet Box customer and I could rave about this product all day. Most importantly, it always looks like I spend much more time putting together lunch than I really do. I give the sleek design all most of the credit for making my lunches look good.

WARNING – Do not continue reading on an empty stomach. You will soon find yourself very hungry!

Sandwich Alternatives –

Same basic ingredients in a new way.

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Pitas
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Roll-ups
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Mini skewers

Breakfast for lunch –

Who doesn’t love breakfast any time of the day? Best of all, you can literally pack lunch with whatever you’re having for breakfast.

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French toast, sausage, yogurt
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Mini pancakes, yogurt

 

Leftovers

Some of my daughter’s favorite lunches are when I turn our supper from the night before into a new lunch for her.

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deconstructed (fancy, right?) fried rice

 

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Sesame noodles and edamame

 

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Chicken & waffles

 

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Meatballs with marinara dip & butter cheese noodles

 

Other Favorites 

These are the ones most requested by my daughter.

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Make your own pizza

 

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Baked Potato

 

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Mini tacos

 

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Make your own tacos

 

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Walking Tacos

Are you noticing a theme? We really like tacos….

 

I want to be clear that the point isn’t to work harder to make exciting lunches, it’s to work less. Use the dishes you’re already preparing for your family and turn them into an unexpected school lunch. If you’re already making a dish your child enjoys for supper, why not set a little aside to pack for lunch the next day?

Final Tips:

Find new sources of protein –

Greek yogurt (we use plain instead of sour cream), eggs, and cheese are great.

Variety –

I prefer give small portions of a lot of different types of food. That way, if my daughter doesn’t like an option, she still has plenty of other options to keep her full throughout the school day.

Rainbow!

I try to include as much color as I can. We all eat with our eyes first and that is no different for kids. If it looks appealing, there is a better chance that they are going to eat it. It’s that simple.

What tips do you have to help keep your children motivated at the end of the school year?

Michele is a wife and a mother of three girls (7, 4, &1). She is originally from Sioux City, IA but has lived with her husband in North Liberty for almost 9 years. She works from home as an in-home childcare provider as well as a mompreneur making specialty desserts as well as children’s accessories and apparel. She spends her days creating all types of artwork and food while constantly learning new skills. She began her blog vanillabeansanddaydreams.blogspot.com this year as a way to document her journey to rediscover her passion for art.

1 COMMENT

  1. Your lunches look amazing. I also pack lunches for my kids and have found we run out of ideas to send too. When you do tacos is the meat cold or do you heat it up and it stays heated in that planet box container until lunch time? I have looked at those several times but never pulled the trigger on buying one.

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