Sunday, January 2, 2011

The lunchbox...

...That time again...the holidays have been packed away and we are left with just the memories of Christmas, New Year's and all that food...All that food and its time to head to the grocery store again?...Time to make lunches again...How many times have I heard people say they hate making lunches...What can you make that everyone likes?  The end of the day when you open that Litterless lunchbox and half of it is still there..."I didn't like it..." or "I wasn't really hungry"...
On any given day, I get to make lunch for at least one adult, two tweens, and at least two toddlers and two preschoolers.  I used to make lunch for two teenages too, but they have taken over that task...I am however, still responsible for providing the potential contents for those lunchboxes as well.  And we live in a world where PB and J no longer cut it, although, not too bad nutrition wise (especially if made on whole grain bread, with natural peanut butter and some delicious homemade jam), Peanut butter has become something of (as my husband calls it) Toxic Waste.  So, what do you pack?  How do you spice things up a little and still make sure they will eat it?
Start with your food groups...In our house, we shoot for two fruits/veggies...In go the carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes, and then an apple or an orange or a banana, or some homemade apple sauce (all those bags of little apples this fall?  My freezer is full of homemade applesauce, it was either that or start throwing them out...My grandmothers would turn over in their graves!)...Next?  What is your protein?  And your dairy?  A little cottage cheese, or some yogurt...I know, this is the easy part, isn't it?  It is the "main dish" that gets us everytime...My Dear Husband is the easy one...a dish of leftovers from supper (Hint always make enough for at least one left-over lunch)...Next? Two teenagers: ham and cheese or cheese and tomato, and a little bit of lettuce and some homemade dressing and all is well (sometimes mix it up with a bagel or a wrap but otherwise nothing changes)...
Then there are the fussy ones...Solution?  Chicken tenders ...On sale this week at the grocery store to boot!...Season them with whatever the kids might like (around here, a little homemade taco seasoning is a hit), bake them in the oven at 425F for about 6 or 8 minutes...From here, you can choose: a wrap with some lettuce, veggies and a favourite dressing, or just the tenders with some veggies and dip...or for the Thermos crew (my 7 year old thinks the best lunches are always in her thermos), dice the tenders and toss with some left over rice or noodles and put the lid on nice and tight.  Now you just need something sweet?  Or maybe not...We try and keep the sweets (other than fruit and yogurt) out of the lunchbox on a regular basis...Altho there are some yummy homemade oatmeal cookies that will probably make an appearance sometime this week!
One last tip...make enough chicken tenders for two or three days...They won't likely make it that far tho'...Folks have been known to eat them as afterschool snacks!
Happy Back to School New Year!

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