Saturday, September 25, 2010

School Sack Lunches

I love lists except the past five months I've not been able to follow them. My hope has been renewed with our daughter's new job. I may actually have a set schedule from her. Here I go again making another list. This time it is a school lunch list.
Chime in with additions as I think we can all use a little help in this direction. Well, those of us with kids to send sack lunches for that is.
A couple things I've learned in the last few weeks is that giving something a fun name adds great appeal to to the desireability of the food. For instance, ants on a log. It's nothing more than a stick of celery filled with peanut butter and raisins spaced on top but don't tell my grand daughter that. She thinks I've created a fun masterpiece.
The Internet was a wash except for a couple ideas as site after site had the same boring thoughts touting them as something wonderful. To whom, I wondered.
Our oldest has begun to complain a bit as she's found that sandwiches get old in a hurry. My creativity is stifled because of time but I will not resort except in extreme emergencies to buying her a school lunch. I've seen the no nutrition meals and highly processed foods they serve. Her mother can make her own choices on the days she's in charge.
With sandwiches being the staple this past month and a narrow amount of choices she likes, we've been narrowed down to turkey breast, ham, tuna, cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and the assortment of add ons like lettuce. I refuse to serve lunch meat and leave that option for her mom also. This has left her menu less appealing with sandwiches only as the choice.
The extras I can come up with some pretty exciting choices. There are loads of choices of cookies, and there is always fruit, nuts, and vegetables. The two younger kids like to scrounge through her lunch box as soon as she hits the door to see what's left. It's usually a few extras. When she wanted a school lunch on Friday and alarm went off in my head and I decided I'd better get my act together if I wanted her happily bringing her lunch box to school.
So lets start with the extras and move on to the main menu where I'd love some ideas from you.
Dried: Apples, Bananas, Pears, which I've already dried some. Then I bought Mangos, and I'm going to see if she likes Cherries, Blueberries, or Cranberries. Raisins of course are great. Fruit roll ups are soon to be drying in the food dehydrator and I'm sure I can find some pleasing combinations with that avenue.
Fresh: Apples, Bananas, Grapes, Oranges and other fruits as come in season.
Melons are only available for a short time and so I've left them off the list.
Canned: Mandarin Oranges, Applesauce, Peaches, and Pears.
Crackers / Cheese (Cut the cheese with small star cookie cutters and the cheese take on a whole new dimension)
For instance Ritz crackers which are round become the moon and the cheese the stars. Let your child name the Galaxy. Okay, we're missing the sun but then you can say your child is the sunshine when they smile. Corny scores with kids.
Of course the ants on a log as I mentioned above and carrots sliced in different manners or radishes scored to make a flower are great dipped in Ranch dressing. Cucumbers aren't very tasty from our store but once in a while we get some good ones and I'll add them when I can. Pickles are something else she likes.
One of the things that has been a big hit has been a mixture of peanuts, raisins, and m& m's. Beware that in some school peanuts are banned as some kids have terrible allergies to them and the school fears that the allergy afflicted child might come in contact with them.
So change the peanuts out with almonds, raisins, and other dried fruit.
Granola is another snack I'm going to make.
And after I thought of that, I rememberd the Cracker Jack like popcorn I use to make for the kids.
Sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are great too. Don't forget to save the seeds from your pumpkins when you carve them.
Popcorn once in a while is fun too. Our oldest thought it was great. You can add gummy bears or something fun with it to surprise them.
Of course since I've given you the recipe for yummy home-made grahmn crackers, they need to be thrown in once in a while too. One gal told me they are good with peanut butter. I've never tried that.
Now I'm not going to mention all the kinds of bars, cup cakes, pudding, and cookies as I'll leave those options up to you. They can be an especially fun way to celebrate the holidays that are coming up. Dirt being one thing that comes to mind. You remember, chocolate pudding on chocolate cookies crumbs and gummy worms sticking up over the edge of the cup.
As for drinks, water is the main choice but chocolate goat's milk, and juice are added for a treat once in a while. The juice can be frozen and serve as the ice pack also.
A big hit has been the slices of quick breads tucked in and don't forget to add muffins which I've given you a nice selection of those to try.
Last but not least, my grand daughter likes black olives and I plan on throwing some of those in for a change up.
I know she loves smoothies. They could be frozen and they'd be thawed by lunch while also serving as the cold pack to keep her other foods fresh.
Now the toughie, the main dishes.
I thought of making cheese sticks. I make bread dough and roll it out fairly thinly wrapping it around a Motzerrella cheese stick. Thinly so it cooks quickly before the cheese melts out of it. Then if I give her some pizza sauce to dip it in while coming up with a cool name for it, I just may have a big hit on my hands. Cold pizza is also a good choice. And why stop at the cheese sticks I thought. How about making some Calzones? I think I'll makes some and freeze them.
Salad is also an option and our grand daughter likes chef salads. On Friday, she wanted cereal and milk. Why not? So that was her main dish.
Which lend the brain to wonder into breakfast foods. Souffle is something I'm going to have to see if the kids like. You can freeze it before cooking and that makes it a wonderful quick meal to throw in the oven for evening also.
The great idea I found off the Internet was Frogs in a Bog, which is simply a cornbread muffin with a sausage poking up. It's the name that will make it popular. Leftovers in a thermos work great and spagetti and lasagne comes to mind. I'm mustn't forget to freeze single servings for future hot meals. Let's not forget soups, and chili -which should be served with cheese and Fritos, or better yet cinnamon rolls -. Toot -sy has got to be the name I'm going to start calling chili. Don't forget names are important. These left overs can be frozen in serving sizes to reheat before sending. Don't forget to put boiling water in the thermos to heat it up before putting the hot foods inside or your dish will cool down quickly.
What about pigs in a blanket with ketchup. Those could be made up ahead of time too or served the evening before and the leftovers put in our daughter's lunch. When I served them for her first time the other day, the name made them a huge hit.
Snacks work great when they are non parishables and put in containers or sandwich bags and stacked in a box like files for our grand daughter to choose from the night before as we are preparing part of her lunch.
I've got to quit but that doesn't mean my brain is still and I'm anxious to see what you come up with so chime in.

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