Quick and Easy Toddler Lunchboxes

I used to have imagination when it came to food. Really I did. I used to be a pro! But I must have given my kid all my smarts, cause when I stare at that refrigerator every night, I can’t come up with much in the way of inspiration for my kid’s school lunch. I wish I were as dedicated a lunchbox mama as Vegan Lunchbox. Ah, well. She rocks. I am merely trying to keep food in my kid’s football-shaped box that will make him a happy, healthy boy.

Unfortunately, anything I pack him from my ‘fridge will be a thousand times more healthy than the public school lunches… read The School Lunch Test from the New York Times and you might never let your kid eat at school again. There is something wrong with our eating habits when a company thinks its worth the money to produce and market an antacid for kids, designed specifically to ease discomfort brought on by ‘an overindulgence in food and drink’. ICK. So I perservere. What are your kids’ favorite packed lunches, beyond PBnJ’s or turkey sandwiches?

The King of Everything loves:

• The Middle Eastern lunch, with baba ganoush (what we called moutabel when we lived over there) and hummous and a variety of mini pitas and veggies to dip. A bottle of drinkable yogurt and some dates for dessert.
• Cheese and veggie filled tortellinis with a white or red sauce. They are tasty enough room temperature, though I do send it over in a thermos from time to time.

• Pancakes. Yes, breakfast for lunch is a special treat around our house. I make them from scratch, keep a batch of the dried ingredients mixed up and waiting just for the eggs, butter and milk. Pancakes are easily frozen, so I usually have some on hand for a quick fix. I add oatmeal or wheat germ to our pancakes, and make them with white, whole wheat flour, millet flour, and other high protein grains. When he has them for lunch, he gets pancake sandwiches, with blueberry preserves in between.

• mini hors d’oeuvres. Itty bitty burritos and taquitos, or mini quiches. If your kid eats seafood and no one in his class is going to keel over because of it… mini crabcakes!!

• falafel. Yup, falafel. The mixes are pretty good, and the kid loves them.

• Fritattas. A rich, egg pizza concoction with as many vegetables as I can sneak in there.

• A hollowed-out apple with tuna salad stuffed in the middle is a fun lunch, though hard to eat for little ones.

• Beans and rice. Why not? It’s easy! It’s good, and it’s good at room temperature.

• Build your own snack/sandwiches — cheaper than Lunchables, you just slice up cheese and deli meats into bite-sized pieces, add some whole grain crackers, a yogurt, some fruit, some carrot sticks, and you’ve got lunch.

Remember, snacks shouldn’t be something that gives kids the Three O’Clock Crazies. We do apples with a dip, either peanut butter or vanilla yogurt, or some other, healthy snack that isn’t full of refined sugars.

And if you’re ever stuck when you get home, there’s no reason you can’t eat breakfast for dinner (another secret: when I was a kid, my mom would sometimes let me eat apple pie for breakfast, in a bowl full of milk, and I loved it…. so relax a little and have some fun).

cooking, eating, healthy choices, healthy diet, healthy food, lunch boxes, New York Times, School Lunch Test, vegan lunchbox

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