Monday, August 20, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade - School Lunch

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Having a pantry and storage room that are filled with baking staples allows me to create lunches for my children while also saving me money.  I pack 4 of my children's lunches, the 4 year old eats at home, everyday for school.  My kids will eat sandwiches but they get bored with them pretty quickly.  I found a great lunch box system that works great for us.  They are called Easy Lunch Boxes and they make packing a lunch so simple.  (Here is the link for Easy Lunch Boxes) The Easy Lunch Box website also has hundreds of lunch ideas.  I have also seen a similar container made by Ziploc at the grocery store and they are a very inexpensive.

Easy Lunch Box system
 Once you have the container you will need to fill it with nutritious food.  There are many options besides sandwiches that you can make for school lunch.  My kids love: mini bagels and Laughing Cow cheese wedges, quesadillas, tortilla wraps, soups in a thermos, spaghetti in a thermos, pasta salads, corn dogs, mini black bean burgers, and homemade pizza pockets, to name a few.  This year I wanted to add to our recipe collection and I found quite a few ideas on Pinterest.  Most of these ideas use pantry items and a few fridge items.  

Frozen Smoothies

One of my favorite sites is called 100 Days of Real Food because she uses real food to create meals for her family.  One of her great ideas is to make smoothies and freeze them in silicone molds.  I actually own these molds and they are amazing and work great!! I have never had one leak or pop open and they clean up easily in the dishwasher. They are available on amazon for about $10 for 4.  Click HERE to see where to buy them.
You can freeze a healthy smoothie and pack it in a lunch box and it will be thawed enough by lunchtime for a very healthy treat. Other items that freeze well are applesauce, pudding, juice, yogurt, etc. Click HERE to view 100 Days of Real Foods smoothie recipe and other great lunch ideas.

Chicken Noodle Soup

100 Days of Real Food also has, what I think is genius and I can't believe I didn't think of this, chicken noodle soup in mason jars and frozen for those busy mornings.  Just pull one out from the freezer, heat up, and place in a thermos.  Genius!!!  That would make lunch prep so quick in the morning!
You will see in her photo how pretty and healthy the soup would be for lunch.  You could make all sorts of soups, stews, or chili for lunch.  Click HERE for the recipe.

Muffin Tin Pizza & More
This next idea could be adapted to so many different kinds of food.  I made muffin tin lasagna in an earlier post and this is a take on that.  It is called muffin tin pizza.  Make a couple muffin tins of these, freeze, and you have lunches for a month.  I found this recipe on All My Great Ideas Are Really From Pinterest (fabulous name) and it is also a fabulous idea!!  
Pizza Muffin Tin Recipe
Click HERE to see her great post, and blog!  My plan is to make a big batch of homemade pizza dough and freeze it.  That way I can make these without the hassle of waiting for the dough.  

Mini Pancake Bites

This last idea has had my mouth watering since I pinned it on Pinterest.  My kids think it sounds kind of weird, but I think once they taste it they will be sold.  Pancake Sausage Bites!!  I am going to make them in a mini muffin tin and freeze them.  Instead of real sausage I am going to use freeze dried veggie sausage in some and freeze dried blueberries in another batch. If you don't have freeze dried or dehydrated use the real version.  Click HERE for the recipe from
Gwaltney Foods
If you use whole wheat flour these little bites could be healthy too!  Serve them with a little maple syrup, fruit (or smoothie) on the side and your kids will be the envy of the whole lunch room. And don't forget how easy and cheap it is to make your own syrup.

Now, I always start off the year with so much motivation, so we'll see what works and how long I can keep up with the baking :)  But I feel so much better giving my kids a lunch that I know they are eating and also getting good nutrition.  And remember that you can substitute most items in these recipes with freeze dried, dehydrated, and homemade versions of what the recipe calls for.  Even the sausage and cheese have a freeze dried substitute!!  There are also recipes for making your own vegetarian meat, called seitan, made out of wheat gluten.  All of these lunches can be made from your storage and you will feel so great knowing you made healthy lunches for your kids.

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