First off, let's talk just a titch about eating with our families.
One meal a day. Research shows that children who eat one meal a day with their families as a sit-down, all-together meal, are less likely to get into drugs, alcohol, and teen sex; they have higher test scores and better concentration in school; they are happier, better-rounded, have higher self-esteem; and are generally "Better" kids than those who don't eat with their families. That is why it is important, no, crucial that we ensure our children eat with us, and that we have dinner as a family.
Now, this post is about lunch, and this post is for Nikki, just to help give some ideas of quick, easy and FUN lunches we can prepare for our little ones. This is for the days when we are sick of PP&J, Mac 'n cheese, or hot dogs.
Lunch Menu #1: Make your own "Lunchables"
Crackers (assorted kinds)
Sliced Cheese (assorted kinds)
Deli lunchmeat (assorted kinds)
Fresh fruit and vegetables
Lunch Menu #2: Salad Wraps (sorry if this one is redundant)
Whole-Wheat tortillas, spread with butter and cooked in a frying pan until brown on each side.
Assorted vegetables, sliced (cucumber, lettuce, tomato, avocado, carrot, etc)
A little ranch dressing and/or mayonnaise
-Let your kids pick what vegetables they want in their wraps, and then let them go for it. Since everything is so healthy, you don't have to fret if all they want is a tortilla, a carrot, and cheese.
Lunch Menu #3: Roasted Veggies with Cheese
1) Dispatch 3 potatoes, 1 head of broccoli, 1 head of cauliflower, 4 carrots, and 1 bell pepper (or any combination of delicious vegetables...these are our favorites) into bite-size pieces.
2) In a monstrous bowl, toss assorted vegetables with 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil; 1 tbsp salt; and 1 tsp pepper. 1 tsp garlic is optional.
3) spread out on a cookie sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray.
4) bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
5) At the end, sprinkle 1 cup shredded cheese (your favorite kind) and bake for 5 more minutes, just to let the cheese melt a bit.
*Notes: watch out for that 30-40 minute cooking time. While this recipe is ridiculously easy and amazingly delicious, it does take a bit of time to cook. Not to prepare, just to cook. So start it around 10 or 11, depending on when you usually eat. We will eat this and nothing else for lunch; however, if you prefer something a little more substantial, you can serve it with cooked rice. This also makes a fantastic side dish with dinner.
Lunch Menu #4: Baked Potatoes
1) Bake some potatoes! I do mine in the microwave. It takes about 3 minutes per potato. Just wash the spud, pierce the skin a few times with a fork, and put in the microwave on high. If you are making lots and lots of potatoes, you can do it in the oven the exact same way (no foil necessary), at 350 for about 1 hour (except for mondo-huge potatoes, which require more time, like 1 1/2 hrs to 2 hrs, or even longer.) ALSO, the crock-pot works. These, you do want foil on. High for 4 hours, so right after breakfast put them in. Microwave is fastest, but you do what you like.
2) Serve potatoes hot with butter, sour cream, chopped green onion, or our favorite, cottage cheese. If you have some, steamed broccoli (leftovers, frozen, or fresh works), leftover cooked chicken cubes, or chopped ham is also yummy on top.
Lunch Menu #5: Oven Chimichangas
1) In a large bowl, mix together: 2 cups cooked rice, 1 small can refried beans, and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Also good: black beans, corn, salsa, sour cream, chopped green onion, cooked chicken, cooked pork, mashed avocado, etc. Add in what you like.
2) place 1/2 cup of the bean mixture in a flour tortilla and fold into a little square. Place in a casserole dish or on a cookie tray that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Place seam-side down.
3) Top completed chimichangas with a little shredded cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and chimichangas are hot through. Serve with more sour cream or salsa, if desired.
*Note: since you mix together the filling cold, this is a great use-up for leftovers, and a great place to get kid's help. They can help stir the filling, pick what they want in it (you can even make a basic filling, and then spread out the other things and they can spoon in things in their own...just figure out a way to mark them when done), and they can help fill the chimis.
For more recipes and meal ideas, go check out my food blog. It's not as well organized for lunch menus as this post, but I think I've written enough here for one day.