It’s amazing how quickly the summer flies by, and I can’t believe it is already time for our kiddos to head back to school! With the return of school comes the return of packing school lunches. After give years of packing lunches for my oldest daughter and two years of packing lunches for my younger daughter (plus a few years of mini-lunches for preschool), I know all too well that it is easy to get into a rut with what you pack into those lunch boxes.
So today I am here to give you some ideas to help you start the year off strong. You can break free of the PB&J, carrot sticks, and juice box rut and venture into new waters by rethinking what you pack lunches in and by adding some new recipes to your routine!
It’s amazing what a kid will eat when their lunch is visually appealing, and the first step in making a lunch look good is the bag and container that they take it in. I love getting my kids involved in picking a box and bag, but make sure you choose a lunch bag that will accommodate the lunch box that you use. A few of my favorite containers are the Hammered Metal Tiffin Lunch Box, the Large Collapsible Silicone Lunch Box, the Sistema Klip-It Salad To Go Container, and the Sistema Klip-It To-Go Split Container.
After you have picked a box and a bag (my girls both picked the Hammered Metal Tiffin Lunch Box and the Bentology Kitty Bento Box Lunch Bag), make sure you have accessories that you might need, like cutlery (we love the Klipo cutlery sets), sauce containers (we love Klip-It Dressing To Go containers), ice pack (we love these Nylon Cold Packs), a reusable napkin (these Buffet Napkins are perfect because they wash well, are durable, and come in a bunch of colors), and a water bottle (my girls both chose the Flip Top Water Bottles).
Now let’s talk food! Here are my top school lunch foods tips:
- Pack small amounts of a variety of things. This will make the lunch more visually interesting and more interesting to eat! If you decide to incorporate a new item in their lunch, having a variety of items also insures there will be something for them to eat, should they decide they don’t wat to eat the new item.
- Embody the “eat the rainbow” philosophy! My kids and I play a game seeing how many colors of the rainbow we can include in our meals during the day and I apply this game to their lunches as well; this continues the game, helps them get a wider variety of nutrients, and makes the lunch more visually appealing.
- Make it fun! Give things fun names, cut things into shapes (I always keep a watch out for mini cookie cutters, especially during the holidays), or skewer things onto plastic cocktail picks.
- Have your child help you in planning what you will pack in their lunch for the upcoming week.
- Try something new! You never know when you might find a new favorite.
So now for some new things to try. I love walking up and down the food aisles at World Market because of all the fun ingredients from around the world. I’m always getting ideas for new dishes, inspired by the ingredients and flavors from different countries represented on the shelves. Today I’m sharing three recipes with you, inspired by my most recent food aisle stroll: a side dish, a main dish, and a dessert!
Side Dish: Creamy Greek Dip
For the side dish, I whipped up a creamy Greek dip, using Mori-Nu Extra Firm Tofu, Marukan Rice Vinegar Lite, World Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Maille Dijon Mustard, and World Market Greek Mediterranean Seasoning from World Market. This dip is a bit like ranch dressing, but with a Mediterranean twist, and is super easy to make. All you have to do is blend the ingredients together using a blender or immersion blender and it’s ready to go!
I filled a Klip-It Dressing To Go container with the dip and packed it in the top tier of one of our Hammered Metal Tiffin Lunch Boxes with some fresh veggies. I chose sugar snap peas, red bell pepper, and jicama for a nice variety of textures and colors. I used mini cookie cutters to cut the red bell pepper and jicama into animal shapes.
Main Dish: Korean Japchae
For the main dish I made Korean japchae, a delicious stir-fried noodle dish that uses Surasang Japchae Sweet Potato Noodles, Wang Japchae Stir-Fry Sauce, Orchid dried shiitake mushrooms, Shirakiku sesame oil, and Shirakiku roasted sesame seeds, as well as fresh veggies, like carrots and spinach. The noodles are boiled, then tossed in sesame oil and set aside. Then the veggies are stir-fried together, along with the shiitake mushrooms (which you soak, then thinly slice beforehand), and then mixed with the noodles and sauce when everything is tender. To make things more fun, I first cut the carrot into ¼-inch slices and used a couple of mini cookie cutters to cut flower shapes. I saved the scraps and used a mini circle cookie cutter to cut leaves.
Dessert: Berry Lemon Yogurt Parfait
Finally, for the dessert I made a quick and easy Berry Lemon Yogurt Parfait. This uses Walkers Shortbread Cookies and Mackays Lemon Curd as well as plain Greek yogurt and a mix of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. You start out by mixing some of the lemon curd into the Greek yogurt. Then assemble the parfaits by layering lemon yogurt, shortbread cookie crumbs, and berries, ending with a layer of berries and a final sprinkling of shortbread cookie crumbs.
But don’t forget the drinks! My favorite trick to getting my kids to drink more water is to put fresh fruit and herbs into their water bottles. Infusing their water with fruit naturally flavors the water and makes it look fun to drink! One of the combinations we love is orange slices and fresh mint leaves in water.
Pack everything up, and you are ready to go! Here’s to a year of (hopefully) more interesting lunches!
Garden Noodles (Korean Japchae)