Whether you are in the midst of a relaxing summer days, or school days full of carpooling and extracurricular activities, the children want to be fed.
Really?! Didn’t I just feed them a few hours ago? Their drawn little faces and sunken eyes look up at me, assuring me that, yes, their
internal clock stomachs are telling them it’s lunch time.
Here is a list of 10 of our favorite lunch meals. Each will prove to be quick, easy, inexpensive and satisfying for your crew. They are all kid-tested, mom-approved, in no particular order, because some days you just have to make do with what’s on hand.
1. Funny Faces – This family favorite is great for using up bits and pieces of veggies, fruits and leftovers. Take a bagel (or english muffin, slice of bread or tortilla) and cover with your favorite spread (cream cheese, peanut butter). Set out a variety of ‘building material’ like fruit and veggie slices, pieces of cheese and meat, olives and pickles, etc. You get the idea. Now let the little artists go to work! They’ll gobble down their foodie creations.
2. BBQ chicken sandwiches – This is a crockpot meal. I cook a whole, frozen chicken in the crockpot on low overnight. In the morning, I separate the meat from the skin and bones, pop the back into the crock with BBQ sauce and enough of the juices to keep it moist, cook on low 1 hour and turn to the warm setting to hold til lunch. This keeps very well in the freezer for meals later in the month.
3. Quesadillas – sprinkle shredded cheddar on a tortilla, add a dash of garlic salt and heat in microwave, oven or skillet, just til cheese is melted.
4. Soup – Another crockpot meal. First thing in the morning, I fill crock with chicken (or beef or veggie) broth and bite-sized veggies (fresh, frozen or canned) and leftover cooked meat (chicken, beef, hamburger) and cook heat on low. The last hour before serving, add salt and other seasonings of choice, noodles or cooked rice. NOTE: Instead of the noodles you can add diced potatoes or uncooked rice with the veggies early in the day.
5. Wraps – Layer lunchmeat & cheese, leftover salad greens, tuna salad or pbj on a tortilla and roll it up. Voila! Lunch is served!
6. Leftovers – Are you seeing a theme here? I’m all for using up and making do. Try serving up last night’s leftovers in some new form or fashion. ‘Fry’ the spaghetti (noodles, sauce and all) in a skillet. Melt cheese over the top of potatoes. Layer cooked chicken or ham over top a bed of salad greens. Below you can see how I took some beef from Sunday Dinner, moistened it with a little Italian salad dressing, heated it in a saucepan and served it over whole wheat toast.
7. Snack Lunch – Give the kids a challenge. Have them search the cupboards, frig and freezer to find a food to fit specific categories. Can they find something for each of the 4 basic food groups, or 4 different colors, or 4 different shapes. We do this toward the end of the month, when Mom may have underestimated appetites in the household or we’ve had unexpected company and the larder is low again.
8. Fancy Cuts – A plain, ordinary, run-of-the-mill lunch like PB&J sandwiches (I’m sure I’ve made at least 5,000 of these in my career) becomes fun and tasty if you slice it up a different way. Cut the sandwich in little triangles instead of big rectangles, or use a large cookie cutter for a fun shape. Instead of traditional carrot sticks, make carrot discs (or use a waffle-style cutter like I did), cut an apple across the middle to reveal the star hidden in the center core. An old stand-by might just become the new favorite.
9. pretzels – Take bread dough (make your own, use frozen dough, or even biscuit dough you pop from a tube) and let them roll out snakes and twist them up. Brush a little eggwash or milk on top and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in a 375 oven for 8-10 minutes and serve with your favorite dipping sauces. (NOTE: Try twisting dough into fun shapes and letters)
10. Pockets – Take bread dough (see #9) and roll out into a large rectangle. Cut into squares that are twice the size of the filling you want to put in each one. Add desired filling (egg and sausage for those pictured below) on 1/2 of each square. Fold remaining half over top of filling, fold and pinch edges. The possibilities are endless – pizza filling, taco meat & cheese, chicken with gravy & vegetables, the list goes on. I originally used this recipe at A Slob Comes Clean for inspiration
These meals are all on our summer menu, but you can find many more ideas on my Kids and Lunch Board Pinterest. Do you have a summer menu plan? What are you feeding your children this summer?