Making school lunches doesn't have to be a tedious chore. Here are some fun and tasty ideas for your kids' lunchbox.
There’s only one thing about the start of a new school year that gets me rattled and that’s figuring out new and exciting options to put in my kids’ lunchboxes. Thankfully, I've been making school lunches for over a decade. Some years back, I began putting my favorite lunchbox recipes into a book and now my kids are actually excited to open their lunches at school each day.
Here are some of Mighty Mommy's new favorites:
PB&J Sandwich Surprise
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup chopped apples
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
½ tsp of cinnamon
Directions: In a small bowl, combine peanut butter and orange juice until blended. Add the apples, dates, and walnuts. Spread on bread with favorite jelly.
Healthy Fruit Roll-Ups
8 ounces dried apricots, pineapple, mangoes, apples, or other dried fruit
1 1/2 cups water
Directions: Preheat oven to 250F. Line a 12x15 inch baking sheet with aluminum foil coated with non-stick cooking spray. Combine dried fruit with water in a heavy saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes or until fruit is very soft. Drain excess liquid and pour fruit into a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour fruit onto foil and spread evenly, making sure there are no holes. Place sheet into oven for 25 minutes. Without opening oven, turn heat off and leave oven door shut for 8 hours. Remove baking sheet from oven and gently peel fruit from foil. Set on waxed paper, right-side down, and press down. Cut into 12 even strips, lengthwise. Roll each strip with the paper side out and store in plastic bags until ready to eat.
Chicken and Ravioli Soup
8 cups chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
2 cups refrigerated cheese ravioli
1 cup cooked chicken - diced
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Heat chicken stock in a soup pot to boiling; reduce heat and add carrots and celery. Simmer until vegetables are soft - about 20 minutes. Add ravioli and cook according to package directions - usually about a 5 minute simmer. Stir in cooked chicken, salt, and pepper as desired and serve.
Whole Wheat Waffle Sandwiches
If you have a waffle iron, you can transform the everyday ho-hum sandwich into something magical. Either use your favorite waffle recipe or buy ready-to-eat whole wheat waffles. Use them instead of bread in your children’s sandwiches. My kids love them with ham and cheese, peanut butter, honey and bananas, or even BLTs. They’re also great with cream cheese and jelly. There’s no end to the creativity that awaits these sandwiches and best of all—you can make them ahead and freeze them.
Homemade Pop Tarts
1 box refrigerated pie crust (2 layers)
1 small jar strawberry preserves or other favorite jam
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons milk
Directions: Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Unroll one of the pie crusts and square the edges. Cut into rectangles. Place 1 teaspoon of jam in the center of a rectangle and top with another piece of crust. Crimp all four edges. Repeat until all of the pie crust is used. Bake the pop-tarts for about 7 – 8 minutes or until slightly brown. If you don’t want to add extra sugar with the glaze, you can use an egg wash on the tops with some white sugar. Allow the pop tarts to cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare glaze by adding milk to the sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Pour over pop tarts and sprinkle with decorating sugar. Serve warm.
Leftover pop tarts can be stored in an airtight container. To serve warm, heat in the microwave, or flat in a toaster oven.
Mini Pizza Bagels
Mini bagels are perfect for school lunches. The sky is the limit when it comes to what you can sandwich between these hearty, little bagels. Line a cookie sheet with a dozen bagels, pour a bit of your favorite tomato sauce on each one, sprinkle mozzarella or other favorite cheese on top, and finish with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, or other veggie toppings. Or you can spread each one with butter and a combination of 1 part cinnamon and 1 part sugar. Then bake for 8–10 minutes at 325F and wrap in aluminum foil to keep them fresh and mess-free in your child’s lunchbox. These are also great to make ahead of time and freeze for easy after school snacks.