School finally started up again here in New York City, and with it came the reality that I’ll have to pack 500+ lunches between now and the end of June 2014. Given the alternative of the poor-quality food offered at my daughters’ elementary school, I’m thankful I can provide them with a healthy lunch on my own. The task is still daunting, though, and it’s hard to stay inspired when I’ve been on this lunchbox merry-go-round for five years now. As luck would have it, Catherine McCord’s new cookbook, Weelicious Lunches, arrived on my doorstep when we came home after the first day of school. It remedied my lunchbox blues and reminded me that every day I get the chance to send my girls off with a little reminder that Mommy loves them.
Here are a few tips and tricks I keep in mind when psyching myself up for the lunch challenge during the week.
Get Jennie’s tips
School is officially in session, which means that for the roughly nine months ahead, you’ll be facing an almost daily challenge of deciding with what lunch to send you child to school. This year, instead of finding kids’ half-eaten sandwiches and untouched celery sticks at the end of the day, guarantee a happier lunchtime — and, more importantly, full bellies — with these three easy strategies for building a better lunchbox. Check out Food Network’s suggestions, then start the conversation about your child’s favorite school lunches in the comments below.
1. Embrace Little Helpers
To improve the lunchbox-packing process, start at the beginning: the grocery shopping for lunch ingredients. Invite your kids to come to the supermarket with you and let them suggest what kinds of foods you buy. It may be as simple as asking them if they prefer apples or orange segments as the fruit of the day, deli turkey or ham on their sandwich, and carrots or cherry tomatoes as the veggie of choice, but the idea is to make kids feel included in the building of their lunches. Ultimately, if kids are invested in their food, they’re more likely to eat it. (This notion holds true come dinnertime, so if you struggle with picky eaters at supper, consider these grocery shopping trips as a means of getting kids excited about all of their meals.)
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Eating lunch in the office can get pretty expensive if you’re buying your lunch every day. Not to mention, it can get pretty boring. Really, what are your choices for lunch: soup, salad or sandwich? If that’s all you’ve got to pick from, you might as well pack your own soup, salad or sandwich and save a lot of money at the same time. Once you take into account how much you’re paying for lunch in a year, that number alone might convince you it’s time to start packing.
In honor of National Brown-Bag It Day, which is tomorrow, May 25, FN Dish is giving you the guide with seven easy-to-follow tips on how to make packing your lunch a breeze. And being budget-conscious doesn’t mean eating boring dishes, so you’ll find there are some great recipes to choose from below, too.
Get the Lunch Packing Tips
You can never have enough ideas for school lunches. In honor of back-to-school season, Summer Fest contributors are gathering together to share their favorite recipes at our Communal Table.
Today, browse through recipes that will put a smile on your kid’s face and make their friends envious at the lunch table. But don’t forget to treat yourself — we’ve got back-to-school recipes for adults, too, like this Spicy-Korean “Ramen” Noodle Soup from Jeanette’s Healthy Living and Cashew-Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches from This Girl Can Eat.
Tidy Mom: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter Cookies (pictured above)
Made by Michelle: Almond Butter and Banana Sandwiches
Chez Us: Healthy Tuna Salad
And Love It Too: Healthy Lunchbox 2012: The Ultimate Collection
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Back to School Roasted Chicken Legs
Bacon and Souffle: Gruyere Grilled Cheese With Apple Salad
Zaika Zabardast: Fresh Corn Cakes With Black Bean Salad Tossed in Cumin Vinaigrette
Haute Apple Pie: Edamame Hummus
Feed Me Phoebe: Deviled Egg Salad Sandwiches
Creative Culinary: Margarita Watermelon
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Swiss Chard Turnovers With Parmesan and Pistachios
Weelicious: Tandoori Chicken: From Dinner to the Lunch Box
Recently, Food Network asked Facebook fans: “Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Which is your favorite, and which could you go without?” Growing up, you’re always told three meals a day are a necessity, but many of you (more than 1,300 to be exact) think that’s not the case. Lots of people would throwaway lunch, while breakfast was definitely the most hotly contested issue.
Many said no to breakfast, but even more of you said you’d devour breakfast any time of day.
Our solution? Breakfast for dinner. You’ll get the best of both worlds when you have a hearty meal at dinnertime that’s made of your favorite morning dishes.
Get the recipes »
After all the BBQ parties, salads and juicy burgers, try something a bit lighter for lunch today. Send the entire family off to work or school with this savory sandwich made with turkey, avocado and whole-grain bread. Mayo is swapped out for a lighter, healthier condiment with nonfat, plain Greek yogurt for a protein and fiber-packed meal.
Get the recipe: Turkey-Avocado Clubs
Browse more of Food Network’s quick and easy recipes.