Whether you're looking for a way to make your child's school lunch more palatable or trying to save some bucks by carting your own lunch to the office, we've got some wonderful ideas for you. Why settle for the same boring sandwich everyday when you can have a Fabulous Brown Bag lunch. The trick to making it special is not to think of a packed lunch as a chore that must be done, but rather as a chance to have a picnic each and every day. Now doesn't a picnic sound more appealing than lunch at the cafeteria or a fast food burger? Of course it does.
Brown Bag Tips
- If you have to make a lot of sandwiches, try the assembly line method: Lay out slices of bread, spread each slice with butter, mustard, mayo or any other spread you are using. Go down the line and add toppings, finish with top slice of bread, then wrap.
- For easier spreading, freeze breads first, then make your sandwiches. This can also help keep foods chilled and it will be thawed in time for lunch.
- Use frozen ice packs to help keep cold foods cold. Freezing drinks like juices and iced teas can also help keep foods cold, and who doesn't prefer a cold drink (keep in mind that the containers are likely to sweat while thawing, so wrap you food well so it doesn't get soggy).
- For a nutritious and low calorie lunch, pack some raw, or lightly steamed (then chilled) vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower or carrots. Add a small container of dip (or individual package of salad dressing) and you've got a great snack or lunch addition.
- Hummus, whether used as a dip or a sandwich spread is a great addition to any lunchbox.
- Don't forget stuffed tomatoes! Stuff with tuna or egg salad or even potato, pasta or rice salad.
- A thermos can keep things hot as well as cold, which opens up a host of lunchtime possibilities. How about soups, or pastas or even stir-frys? A wide mouthed thermos container can be the brown bagger's best friend. Just fill with piping hot food and seal. It will stay hot until lunchtime.
- Tired of the same old sandwich? How about cold pizza for lunch? Don't forget salads instead of sandwiches (perfect for those cutting carbs).
- What's exotic for us in normal fare in Japan. Sushi Rolls make terrific lunchbox fare.
- Frittatas are great served cold and are perfect for packing in a lunchbox.
- Savory tarts, pies and quiches can often be served at room temperature and add an elegant touch to any box lunch.
- If you and your co-workers bring your lunches to work, why not start a Brown Bag Club? Divide the week up between 5 co-workers, each day a different person brings brown bag lunches for the group!
Kid Friendly Feasts
- Core an apple and stuff the inside with peanut butter. Top with raisins, nuts, sunflower seeds or toasted coconut. The filling will keep the cut apple from turning brown.
- Cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, or spread bread with cream cheese and top with dried fruits like raisins, apples or apricots.
- Mash a banana together with cream cheese and top with fresh apple, pineapple or peach slices.
- Pack fresh fruit with yogurt dip.
- Make fancy sandwiches by cutting shapes out of the bread with a cookie cutter (use the crusts and scraps to make breadcrumbs or croutons). Kids love the novelty and will be more apt to finish their lunch.
- Use lunchtime as a bonding opportunity with your child, include a special little note with each lunch. If you need inspiration check out this wonderful book Napkins: Lunchbag Notes from Dad
Back to School Links
Looking for back to school articles, crafts, recipes, hints and more? Check out these web sites.
FreeKidsCrafts.com -- Backpack buddies, homecoming mums, pencil holders and more back to school crafts for all ages.
About.com School Crafts and Activities -- Free school related craft patterns and projects.
KinderArt - Back to School - Great back to school art ideas, lesson plans, activities and helpful articles for both teachers and parents.