Today we're going to talk about School Treats & Lunches on this 'ol blog. As a homeschooler - I don't have to worry about peanut allergies and such as much as other families do, but we do occasionally have parties and things that we worry about allergies. The truth of it though is that lunches for kids are so easy to get caught in a rut. I know my kids are just picky enough that it's normally the same old thing.
1) The first idea that I love is having a snacking station or lunch making station in your house -- where there are good ideas for your children to choose from and grab on their own. Have several options and allow them to choose for themselves. I've even seen it where they have categories where the kids choose 1 item from section A, 2 from B, and 1 from C... that sort of thing is great for empowering your kids to make their own healthy choices.
2) I also love the idea of using those silicone cupcake liners to help make a bento style lunch with lots of little things combined into one lunch. I've never tried this, but I've even heard when you're at home if you serve a lot of little things in muffin tins -- kids will eat more than they would off of a plate. For this discussion though, I like the idea of them getting a little variety of things - think of the possibilities if you just change out one item everyday. For instance - if you send them with berries, a quesadilla, some crackers, and carrots... if you just change the berries and carrots to celery -- it's a whole different lunch with the same crackers & quesadilla. You get the idea. You could make the same main dish for the lunch and make several of them... then just change out the sides for that week.
3) I love the clothespin butterfly snacks too - which could easily be added to your child's lunch too. I've seen them with grapes, strawberries, goldfish, and cheese... but you could use whatever your child likes. Raisins would be good in this too blueberries, cherry or grape tomatoes, cereal, whatever you can fit in the bag. Use a snack sized bag -- put one item on the left side and one on the right. Then you put a clothespin in the middle and it looks like a butterfly. I've seen the faces just drawn on different color clothespins and antennas added... but I thought these with the pompoms were super cute!
4) I love that there are so many options these days, I mean when we were kids -- you were stuck pretty much with a sandwich, chips, fruit, and a cookie... or some small variation on that. Now parents are much more creative, and you can almost do anything. I wasn't a sack lunch kid very often when I was young, but occasionally - I'd take some soup in a thermos... now you can do that... you could make a big batch of mac & cheese on the weekend and let them take that. You can send them with soup, you can send just about anything and keep it warm these days.
5) The same goes for ways to keep lunches cool. I love the idea of freezing a damp sponge and packing that with your child's lunch to keep things cool... and as it melts, it naturally sucks up the liquid back into itself. I used to freeze my water/juice box/Caprisun to keep my lunches cool. I've also seen some smoothies being added to lunch boxes for the same purpose... it's genius! By the time lunch rolls around -- unless your child is the unlucky ones that have to eat at 10:30 -- it's defrosted and perfect for their meal.
6) I'm all about the freezer cooking these days -- so I also saw this link of recipes you can freeze ahead of time for lunches. I hope that this helps some of you get on top of lunch for the week by prepping it on the weekend. Any of you into the whole food movement over the prepackaged items will love this set of recipes -- it's from the 100 Days of Real Food blog. I've also seen corn dogs made out of mini hot dogs in muffin tins -- those would be a GREAT prep ahead item!
Remember to check with your school or coaches to find out about any food allergies... it's no fun to be turned away after making something special for the kids... or to be the one that can't participate because of an allergy.
Next week we will be talking about our Favorite Animated Movies... so start thinking about what your favorites are either new or old.