Now that school is about to start up again, it’s a great time to plan ahead for those upcoming lunches. You’ll have to do the delicate dance of making food that’s nutritious but also tastes good. Even though it’s easy to throw together a sandwich every day and toss in a bag of chips, it is always fun to mix it up with a variety of easy to make recipes for your kids.
Your friends at Shea Homes® have found yummy sweet and savory lunch recipes and we thought we’d share. They’re easy to make and these flavor combos are sure to be a hit!
Apple and Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich
This is the ultimate combination of sweet and savory inside everything you love about a grilled cheese sandwich, and is also a perfect meal for families cutting back on meat or looking to fit more fruit into their daily diets. You can even watch a video to learn how to pack the sandwich so that the bread stays crispy.
Cream Cheese Plus
Give peanut butter a break and find a new riff on a classic favorite: the cream cheese sandwich. Traditionally served with cucumber on plain white bread, you can kick up the nutritional value by using whole wheat bread — then add a little bit of mint to punch up the flavor. Layer sliced tomatoes between cream cheese on pumpernickel bread or go simple-but-delicious with cream cheese and apricot jam on seeded bread for a sweeter take.
Fun with Bento Boxes
A bento is a single-serving meal packaged within a box with multiple subsections to house different meal components. Hailing from Japan, the bento box usually contains a carb or starch (like rice or noodles), a protein, and an assortment of vegetables (fresh, cooked, or pickled). For kiddos, make veggies more palatable by cutting them into fun shapes like hearts or stars with cookie cutters. You can prep for an entire school or work week by preparing big batches of each component ahead of time — all that’s left is to fill the bento’s compartments!
Pepperoni Pizza Rolls
Do we love pizza rolls more than cinnamon rolls? It’s tough to decide, but the edge may have to go to the savory variety when it comes to satisfying school lunches! Pinwheel your chosen toppings inside dough, then top with cheese and bake. Pepperoni pizza rolls can be made completely from scratch or you can save time with pre-made dough. For an extra nutrient punch, fold a little chopped spinach into the sauce. They’ll never even notice they’re secretly eating their veggies!
Baked Chicken Quesadillas
Forget the bento box and instead pack proteins, veggies, and fiber into one handheld meal. These baked chicken quesadillas make a perfect lunch for on-the-go kids: They include both red and green peppers as well as onions, cheese, and nicely-grilled chicken. As an alternative, wrap the fixings into a burrito — you can still bake them to make sure the cheese is melted. Send with an orange or a handful of grapes for a sweet and healthy treat to cut through the richness of the Mexican-inspired main course.
Whether you want to make use of delicious leftovers from your weekend barbeque at your neighbor’s place or do slow-cooker chicken on your own, this lunch requires little effort. Starting with a few of your favorite tortillas — wheat varieties work best — add a small handful of shredded chicken breast and incorporate dressings such as ranch or Caesar depending on your personal preference. For a little bit of crunch and nutrition, include chopped vegetables like celery or grated carrot before seasoning with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Pack into lunch boxes or serve to your kids at the kitchen table as a tasty after-school snack
Best served cold and bursting with flavor, pasta salad is a no-fuss lunch that packs well and tastes even better. Create your creamy base with mayonnaise and a splash of apple cider vinegar, then season to your liking. Toss in your choice of cooked short pasta such as penne or rotini along with halved cherry tomatoes and small cubes of cheese — you can even add a salty punch from chopped bacon or deli meat. Gently stir to combine and transfer to plates or plastic containers your kids can pack in their school bags. Be sure to make extra so you can eat out on your patio.
Burrito Bowls, Taco Salads - Customizable Meals
Not everyone in your family might want the same items for lunch, and that’s okay! Picky eaters will rejoice at customizable lunch options like burrito bowls or taco salads. Experiment with combinations like rice, black beans, guacamole, and shredded rotisserie chicken for easy prep. Use veggies which stand up well to refrigerated storage after being cut, like cabbage, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and more. Eat the bowl on its own or bring along some flour or corn tortillas and make it a wrap!
Everything in a Jar
A large-mouth jar is a handy vehicle for a huge assortment of lunch items, like vegetable and grain salads, overnight oats, cold noodle dishes, and pasta salads. To make your perfect jar salad, assemble ingredients in layers from bottom to top, starting with grains or rice and ending with more delicate vegetables like lettuces and herbs on top. Grains and dressings can be prepped ahead of time and individually portioned as needed. Try a grain bowl with farro or millet for complex carbohydrates, then add grilled chicken, cucumber, and lettuce, before topping it all with a zesty balsamic vinaigrette.
Waffle Taco Bar
What kid doesn’t love tacos? This recipe uses Van’s Waffles to create taco shells and then adds a few healthy ingredients to create a yummy waffle taco bar lunch treat. This will break the daily sandwich cycle and you can also mix up different ingredients to keep it interesting.
Nutella and Banana Sushi
These delicious snacks can be prepared in only five minutes, so you can make them in the morning for lunch or even throw them together for the after-school snack rush. A healthy pro-tip: Try putting strawberries or blueberries on top to get more fruit involved.
Peanut Butter on Pita
A classic peanut butter sandwich gets a makeover with these tasty treats. Rather than beginning with standard bread, try pita pockets instead! Cut several whole grain pitas in half and spread with natural peanut butter. If desired, add slices of ripe banana and other toppings like cinnamon or small chocolate chips. For an on-the-go lunch, skip separating the pitas and stuff your fillings into the pita’s natural pouch. While this recipe gives your children a wholesome school lunch, also consider it as a nourishing accompaniment perfect for a picnic in a community park at The Canyons.
Wow — are these recipes making you hungry? Hopefully this list will give you new options to explore this school year. If you have any delicious school lunch recipes of your own, please share!