By Victoria Hart Glavin of Tiny New York Kitchen
School is back in session and it’s so easy to fall into a boring lunch routine.
I always made lunches for my kids because they said that the school’s lunch was “sooo gross.” It’s important to have a healthy approach for the lunch bunch as well as keeping it interesting. The guideline should be, however, to mix a lean protein with whole grains along with fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure to add a sensible treat.
Peanut Butter & Strawberries
Skip the sugary jams and add strawberries instead for the classic PB&J. It’s easy and tastes delicious. Layer a piece of whole wheat bread with peanut butter and follow with a layer of fresh-diced strawberries. If your child has a peanut allergy or your school is peanut-free, then try paring strawberries with a layer of cream cheese. Either option will taste almost like dessert.
Wraps are super easy to make and can cut the boredom of the traditional sandwich. Some good wrap options are Grilled Veggie & Hummus Wraps,
Grilled Chicken Wraps, or Cream Cheese & Turkey Wraps. One of the good things about wraps is that you can make them the night before without the soggy bread worry.
Quesadillas are just as delicious as your traditional grilled cheese sandwich, but are still delicious when eaten cold and won’t get all-soggy in the lunch box. If you’re making eggs in the morning, just throw the quesadilla on the frying pan for a few seconds until the cheese is melted. Be careful not to get the tortilla too crispy. Also a great way to use leftovers. Add some cooked chicken breast or ground beef for added protein. Slice into triangles and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to go out the door. Pack with small containers of salsa, sour cream or guacamole.
Cheese & Fruit Plate
A Cheese & Fruit Plate is great finger food and won’t weigh your child down at lunch time. Pack an assortment of grapes, strawberries, sliced bananas, small carrots and celery. Add a small container of peanut butter or ranch dressing for dipping. Add a piece of string cheese. This is a super
healthy assortment that your kids will actually eat and it takes just a few minutes to put together.
I loved making sandwiches out of Pita Pockets for my kids’ lunches. Just stuff with all sorts of goodness like tuna salad or cheese & vegetables. Try finding the mini Pita Pockets and add a small container of hummus.
Bite Size Tuna Bagels
Finger food is always a favorite. Instead of a simple tuna sandwich on bread, use mini bagels. Place slices of cheddar and tuna salad over mini bagels or spread with cream cheese over mini bagels and top with smoked salmon.
Muenster & Cuke Sandwich
This sandwich is a great way to sneak those vegetables into lunch. Of course, Muenster cheese is the star of this sandwich, which gives an almost creamy consistency. Coat both sides of whole wheat or multigrain bread with mayonnaise. Next, lay down a thick layer of Muenster cheese, and follow with an equally thick layer of sliced cucumbers.
Apple Cheddar Sandwich
Spread a little mustard on crusty bread, top with sliced apples and a cheddar cheese. I prefer extra-sharp cheddar, but as we know, tastes vary. Think about using green apple slices if you prefer a tangier sandwich.
Think Outside The Lunch Box
Experiment with different healthy lunch ideas. Think “outside” the lunch box. Have fun with dreaming up healthy and tasty lunches. Many times last night’s dinner can become incorporated into tomorrow’s lunch. Be creative, have fun, and be sure to check to see if your child’s school has any allergy policies (many have a peanut-free policy).
Victoria Hart Glavin has been cooking and writing recipes since she was a teenager. Originally from Nebraska, her appreciation for culinary technique took off when she moved to Lyon, France.
While living in France, Victoria studied French cooking from an expert Lyonnais chef. Victoria learned to love the local culture of preparing and enjoying fresh, seasonal foods. While in France, Victoria experienced the joys of shopping for local produce at the market and preparing fresh foods simply and beautifully in order to enhance the experience of the table. During her time in France, she says she “learned how to squeeze tomatoes at the local market” and “took everything in by osmosis.”
Currently, Victoria creates tasty treats in her tiny kitchen, in New York City, for all to enjoy and on weekends she explores Fairfield County where has a second home. Victoria has shared her recipes with others and now you can enjoy the Tiny New York Kitchen recipe collection, too! Victoria is a member of Culinary Historians of New York and a member of the Association for the Study of Food and Society.