Brown-bagging it

Packing school lunches (and breakfasts) can sometimes feel like a chore or a challenge. To make it easy, most parents and caretakers pack a sandwich for kids, since it’s easy to eat, not very messy and doesn’t require being heated up. However, if you are looking for some ideas and want to add variety to a child’s lunch, we’ve come up with some alternatives. Watch out, PBJ sandwiches, there are some new kids in town…

We like to start each of these ideas off with a bottle of (frozen) water in the bag itself. This will keep lunch cool until it’s time to eat and the water will be defrosted enough to drink during the lunch period.

  • The Sampler: Cut up pita bread into triangles (or you can toast it up in a toaster or oven for a bit to make it more like a crisp or cracker) as a base and pack small containers of hummus, cubes of cheese, and cucumber slices for kids to put together their own combination. Add a banana and a small container of blueberries for a sweet finish.
  • The Make-Your-Own Pizza: Pack a personal-sized pita bread an containers or baggies filled with sliced tomato, shredded mozzarella (or a string cheese, for less mess), red/green peppers, and basil (if they enjoy the flavor). This will allow them to put together their own pizza creation for lunch. Add a berry bowl (a mix of strawberries and raspberries or any other kind of fruit your child enjoys) or apple slices for a dessert.
  • The Parfait: This is perfect if your child attends a morning program where they will need to bring breakfast, or it can be a great at-home breakfast to make the night before/in the morning with your child. Start with a plain or vanilla yogurt base. Slice and dice a choice of fruit: bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and/or mango, for your child to choose from. Have granola on hand as well. Then, in either a travel container the size of a bowl or (if you’re at home) a tall cup, start with a layer of yogurt, than fruit, than another layer of yogurt, then granola, etc. until you reach the top. If you like, drizzle with a little honey to finish it off. When this is made the night before, the granola doesn’t stay crunchy, but absorbs some of the moisture and can have a texture of mushy goodness that is just as delicious (maybe even more so).

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