Written by ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen
We know that making lunches for school can be challenging especially when kids have different likes and dislikes, or have food allergies. We can help you avoid that lunchbox fatigue and keep your family members happy. We have put together some helpful tips and tasty recipes to add some variety and excitement to your lunches:
- Use a variety of tasty and visually interesting bread for sandwiches. For example, use pitas, mini bagels, tortillas, English muffins, hamburger, hotdog or submarine buns.
- When shopping, choose an assortment of ripe and less ripe fruit. The less ripe fruit will be ready to eat in a few days.
- Pack an ice pack, freeze a water bottle or juice box, or freeze a yogurt tube and place any temperature-sensitive foods close by.
- It’s easy to forget utensils; try to pack them the night before in your insulated lunch bag.
- Small food is often fun food. It is easy to convert your favorite muffin recipes to mini: spoon 1 Tbsp of batter into each 24 greased or paper-lined mini muffin cups. Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the pan or cool on a rack.
- If time allows the night before, set out washed vegetables like a salad bar and let kids build their own salads or choose their vegetable stick mix. Offer vegetables such as snap peas or snow peas, red, yellow or orange peppers, jicama, zucchini, carrots and celery. Hummus makes a great dip for vegetables.
- A lot of kids won’t eat sliced fruit if it has started to brown. When preparing lunches, slice fruit and let it soak in a mixture of 4 cups of cold water and 2 Tbsp lemon juice for five minutes. Drain and store in a sealed container.
LUNCH BOX MINI BAGELWICHES
8 oz (250 g) spreadable light cream cheese
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds, optional
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
10 mini bagels, halved
- Combine all ingredients except bagels until blended. Spread cream cheese mixture on bottom halves of bagels. Cover with top halves of bagels.
FUNKY MONKEY SNACKS
1 banana, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cup quick cooking rolled oats
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sweetened coconut
- In a medium bowl, cream together banana, butter and sugar until smooth.
- Stir in rolled oats, vanilla and cocoa powder; mix until everything is combined.
- Using a 1 Tbsp cookie scoop, shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll balls in coconut until coated. Refrigerate snack balls until firm, about 30 minutes.
DILL PICKLE ROASTED CHICKPEAS
4 cans (19 oz/540 mL each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp canola oil or grapeseed oil
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tsp grated lime peel
2 Tbsp Dill Pickle Seasoning (see below)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Spread chickpeas in a single layer in two large rimmed baking sheets.
- Bake for 40 minutes, stirring chickpeas and switching pan position after 20 minutes.
- Combine oil, lime juice and lime peel in a large heatproof bowl.
- Transfer hot chickpeas to oil mixture and toss to coat.
- Spread chickpea mixture in a single layer in the same pan.
- Continue baking for 15 minutes.
- Turn oven off.
- Transfer hot chickpeas to same heatproof bowl. Add Dill Pickle Seasoning and toss to coat.
- Spread chickpea mixture in a single layer in same pans.
- Return pans to turned-off oven. Let chickpeas stand in oven with door closed for one hour or until crunchy.
- Cool completely in pans on racks.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to one week or freeze for up to one month.
DILL PICKLE SEASONING
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp coriander seed
1/4 tsp mustard seed
1/4 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
- Grind salt, coriander seed, mustard seed and dill in a coffee grinder until blended.
- Add garlic powder and onion powder; grind, using an on/off motion, to combine.
For more great recipes, cookbooks, classes, meals and more, visit atcoblueflamekitchen.com.
See our related articles:
Lunch-packing: From dread... to doable
Bye bye boring lunches
The happiest kid in the cafeteria - Better school lunches all week long