get monthly recipes, ideas and tips »

Kid-Friendly Lunches They’ll Love

Posted on August 30, 2013

There are some moms that are o.k. with packing pb&j every day, I’m just not one of them. They’re tasty little sandwiches and all. But, I truly believe that lunch, like any other meal, is an opportunity to enjoy a variety of foods. If that means peanut butter and jelly once in a while, that’s just great, but what about a salad, soup or perhaps a pasta throughout the rest of the month?

With 7 years of lunch-packing experience to my name, I’ve developed quite a repertoire (if I do say so myself). From my daughter’s current fav, the roasted chicken Caesar salad to my “not exactly fried brown rice” to a variety of pasta dishes, I’ve found that the key is to keep it simple. Well that, and having a thermos and some sturdy airtight containers on hand.

Not sure about you, but I don’t have an extra 30 minutes to prepare a serious recipe with lots of prep work just for lunch. Often times, however, just tying together some leftovers in a pretty little package is all it takes. And nothing like last night’s roasted or grilled chicken to make those lunches come together at crunch time.  Here are a few ideas to pin on the fridge next to that darn annual emergency form you still need to fill out.

Chicken Salad: Chop up that roasted chicken and mix with some diced celery, dried cranberries, green onions or some of each. Tie it all together with a little mayo and pile into a pita or seal it in an airtight container with some crunchy crackers on the side.

Chicken Panini Sticks: Slice a few pieces of roasted chicken breast and place onto a piece of sourdough. Top with mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of pasta sauce or pesto. Sandwich with another slice of bread and press in a panini machine or repair on a griddle like you would make a grilled cheese sandwich. Once it’s crisp, slice into sticks that fit vertically in a thermos to keep warm.

Peanut Chicken Noodles: See, I have nothing against peanut butter. As long as your kid’s elementary school doesn’t either (and please check because there are tons of allergy policies these days), here’s a new way that your kids will enjoy packing it away!

Peanut Chicken Pasta

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

3 cups cooked whole wheat linguini or spaghetti*

1 cup pulled or chopped cooked chicken

2 cups baby spinach

Heat chicken broth, peanut butter, soy sauce brown sugar and ginger together in a small-medium sized saucepan, whisking ingredients together until smooth. Toss in pasta, chicken and spinach and cook over medium until heated through. Enough for 3-4 kid lunches.

* I like to break my past in half before cooking, so that it’s easier for the kids to eat out of a thermos.