by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, September 12th, 2015
by Sara Levine in Family, Recipes, September 9th, 2015
Some parents meticulously pack their kids’ lunches the night before, ensuring a smooth start the next day. I am not one of them. My husband takes our kids to school every morning at 7:30 a.m. And every morning at 7:15 a.m. I start making lunch. “OK, we’re in the No Request Zone,” I’ll announce to all four small fry who are still eating breakfast, not yet even starting to wonder where their shoes are. But with a few handy strategies for banging out healthy lunches in a hurry, we rarely have a lunch-related disaster. (Getting all the kids out the door and buckled into their car seats, however, is another matter. See: shoes.) That’s thanks to this list of reliably quick lunch ideas:
DIY Cucumber Sandwiches: Think Lunchables with a fresh twist. Chop up a cucumber and put it in the lunchbox. Then set a small pile of turkey, ham and/or cheese next to it, and let the kids put together their own sandwiches at lunchtime.
by Emily Lee in Recipes, August 19th, 2015
The new school year is in full swing, and to match that brand-new backpack and those shiny unused school supplies, you want to start your lunch game strong. These lunchbox combos from Food Network Kitchen are so easy to make and pack that you won’t tire of them by October — and neither will the kids. Each includes a fun main recipe, plus all the tasty extras to round out a complete, balanced lunch. Warning: Lunch-packing parents may want to assemble an extra box for themselves, and we fully approve! Read more
by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, May 28th, 2015
With another summer heading toward its end, it’s time to start thinking about lunchbox-friendly foods — namely, foods that can withstand a morning without refrigeration. Insulated lunchboxes do their part to keep meals fresh, as do ice packs. But ice packs are heavy, and they tend to go missing. A few judiciously frozen items can do double duty, keeping your lunchbox cold while slowly thawing in time to eat. Frozen water bottles, or frozen packs of applesauce or yogurt, should do the trick. But as a general rule, it’s best to steer clear of meat and dairy if you can’t guarantee refrigeration. Just in time for another school year, here are some no-fridge foods that kids — and adults — can look forward to opening.
Nuts, Berries and Seeds
Lunchtime feels eons away without a midmorning snack to hold you over, and trail mixes, granola bars and cereal treats are all tasty fuel sources. Food Network Kitchen’s Honey-Nut Cereal Treats (pictured at top) are loaded with protein and fiber in the form of peanuts and almonds. If your kids appreciate sweet and chewy dried fruits, try Claire Robinson’s easy Pumpkin Seed-Dried Cherry Trail Mix. Alton Brown’s classic rendition of crunchy Granola Bars is another snack you can feel good about packing. This lower-calorie option studded with sliced almonds, dried apricots and berries. Before you pack any of these in your child’s lunchbox, err on the side of caution and make sure no one in the class has a nut allergy.
by Lygeia Grace in How-to, March 5th, 2015
Tired-mom confession: I’m kind of psyched for summer because I won’t have the pressure of packing a single lunchbox for nine whole weeks. (Yep, ours is a year-round school, but still…) Summer lunches offer a bit more flexibility and require less planning, and sometimes the kids can even help.
Lunches That (Even Little) Kids Can Make Themselves:
1. Strawberry & PB Wraps: Slather peanut butter on a whole-wheat tortilla, sprinkle with diced strawberries and wrap it up like a burrito for a hand-held meal.
2. Pita Pockets: Whip up the egg salad (with a kid-friendly ingredient), chicken salad or even Ellie Krieger’s healthier version of chicken curry salad and show the kids how to stuff a couple of spoonfuls into each pocket.
3. Sub Sandwiches on a Stick: Set out the fixings — chunks of cheese, cherry tomatoes, cubes of thick bread, pickles cut into large dice, rolls of salami — and let kids slide everything onto a bamboo skewer.
4. Watermelon Gazpacho: Taking a tip from the amazing Barefoot Contessa’s original 5-star cold soup recipe, give the kids a turn at the food processor with this fruit-filled summertime soup.
by Foodlets in Family, February 1st, 2015
Dining at your desk can feel sad — like eating Thanksgiving dinner with plastic utensils. (The food may be delicious, but the circumstances make it less so.) But there is a way to make eating last night’s leftovers actually pleasant — and I’m not talking about investing in one of those annoying bento lunchboxes that never have enough room for the main part of the meal. Over the years, I’ve come up with five essentials that bring dignity to lunch at work. Here’s what I always have on hand.
1. A Low, Wide White Ceramic Bowl: White because most food — even a baked potato — looks good against it. Low because it can work for salads, soups, grains or a piece of chicken. And ceramic because it can go in the microwave (cold leftovers just invite depression).
2. Real Cutlery (i.e., a stainless steel fork and spoon): They don’t have to match, so grab those oddball orphaned pieces from your silverware drawer and put them to good use. Not only is it better for the environment, it’s also a scientifically proven fact that nothing (other than North Carolina barbecue served in a Styrofoam container) should ever be eaten with a flimsy plastic fork.
by Foodlets in Family, January 16th, 2015
Your mornings may go more smoothly than mine, but in order to get the kids out the door on time I need to have a bunch of lunch staples on hand. And sometimes those supplies come right from last night’s dinner. Hint: Make it even easier on yourself by packing up these lunches as you clean up dinner, while everything’s still out.
1. Homemade Pizza: Some schools balk when you send kids with takeout pizza, but the fresh stuff should be fine. We love ham and pineapple, as well as good ol’ cheese. But Ree Drummond’s 5-star Pepperoni Pizza and Four-Cheese Pizza (pictured above) look so good, we’ll venture out this week.
2. Rolls: Any time we serve rolls or crusty bread, I always use the extras for sandwiches the next day. We have small kids and the size is perfect. If yours are bigger, pack two of these mini sandwiches. (Feeling industrious? Bobby Flay has 164 [and counting] perfect reviews for his Parker House Rolls.)
by Amy Reiter in News, October 7th, 2014
OK, I admit it: I was a little relieved when school started again after the winter break. The house will be quiet again, I thought to myself. The house will be clean again. (In both cases, the “at least for a little while” part is implied, but you parents knew that.) In the midst of all this reflection, though, I forgot about something: packing lunches.
Without the allure of new lunchboxes, packing lunch this time of year can get tedious, so we’re stepping it up. Here are a few of our favorite ideas, including new things to try ourselves.
1. Embrace the Skewer: Chop up your kids’ favorite sub-style sandwich ingredients into big bites, then thread them onto a bamboo skewer, like what’s pictured above.
2. Amp Up Your Cheese and Crackers: Instead of a sandwich, serve cheese and crackers, but do it antipasto style by tucking in a couple of cheeses, one favorite and one new variety. Then add turkey lunchmeat and a couple of slices of salami.
3. Serve Soup: What’s more comforting than a thermos of hot homemade soup? We’re trying this 10-Minute Tomato Soup recipe ourselves. (P.S. Send a few crackers to add on the spot.)
by Foodlets in Family, September 15th, 2014
It’s not uncommon for parents, when they’re concerned about their kids missing them at school, to sneak a little note into the kids’ backpacks or special treat in their lunchboxes to cheer them up. But Li Ming, a stay-at-home mom in Singapore, has taken that concept to a whole new level with the elaborate bento boxes she makes for her two sons.
Ming says she “started bento-ing” in 2008, when her older son was in nursery school, and graduated to making the more involved, ultra-adorable charabens, or character bentos, when he began primary school in 2011. “He missed me terribly then and had problems adjusting to the longer hours at primary school. I started packing him charabens, along with lunch notes, hoping to cheer him up and let him feel my presence and love through them,” she explains on Bento, Monsters, the blog where she documents her bentos and offers recipes, tips and tutorials.
by Allison Milam in Family, September 4th, 2014
Packing a school lunch has a bad reputation, but it doesn’t have to be so hard — and the results can be very sweet. Here are a few of my favorite gadgets that easily make all the difference between a so-so lunch that comes home half-eaten and a special little treat kids can’t resist.
1. Bento Boxes: It’s simple to pack a balanced lunch when you have several compartments to fill with something different. Planet Box is the most-expensive line, but with a stainless-steel box that comes in a cushy (and customizable) case, it’s hard to beat. Our favorite plastic (and more affordable) version is EasyLunchboxes, which are BPA-free and also come with cooler bags in every shade of the rainbow.
2. Our Favorite Water Bottles: Oh, the leaky water bottles. If I could have a refund for all the sippy cups, water bottles and novelty glasses we’ve bought for our brood, college would be paid for already. Along the way I’ve figured it out. This is the only kind of water bottle we’ll buy going forward: The Bubba bottle is made of stainless steel, isn’t overpriced, is dishwasher-safe and hasn’t leaked a drop yet.
Especially if you have picky eaters on board, it can be hard to pin down kid-friendly recipes that translate from the kitchen to the lunchbox. Luckily, Food Network’s guide to Kid-Approved Lunches and Locker-Friendly Foods makes cafeteria glee an everyday affair. These recipes for stackable sandwiches, DIY meals and wholesome desserts are champs in a lunchbox, and they are just the fuel your kids need to get back in the swing of things.
With a recipe like Ellie Krieger’s Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta Salad for Food Network Magazine on hand, it’s a cinch for your kids to “eat the rainbow.” In between bites of whole-wheat bow tie pasta comes corn, edamame, red bell pepper and carrots.
Tyler Florence’s lunchtime comes with a dose of ingenuity: He packs a sandwich, among other things, inside an empty tennis ball canister. Tyler Florence’s Fresh Mozzarella BLT with Pesto on a baguette for FN Magazine easily one-ups the lunch pail.
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