With the beginning of August comes planning for back to school. Many of my teacher friends all over the country are gearing up and preparing for their students to arrive starting this week all the way through the week after Labor Day. Along with getting materials together and preparing for some new teacher presentations, I started thinking about planning lunches. Making lunch isn’t one of my most favorite things. I’m not sure why. I often bring leftovers to reheat, soup, salad or make a sandwich. Variety never hurt anyone. So I started pulling together some ideas and revisiting some recipes that worked for me last year. Even if you haven’t been “back to school” in years but brown bag it, you might enjoy having some of these ideas on hand. Also, for parents looking for some inspiration for your kids’ school lunches, read on.
• Lunch Bowls: These lunch bowls look colorful and can be made ahead. Bring any dressings separately and slice your avocado right before eating.
• Salads: Here are two lists I will be visiting as we start the school year. This Cherry Walnut Chicken Salad is a favorite.
• Soups: I know what you’re thinking. How can you be thinking about soup when, as my grandma used to say, it’s hotter than the hubs of hell?
Right now, you can try a cold summer soup. As my friends know, my family belongs to a CSA and receives fresh produce from mid-June through October. Throughout the season, especially from August through October, I make soups to freeze that I pull from the fridge throughout the fall and winter. Some favorites: Cream of Fennel, Potato Leek, Roasted Butternut Squash, Cabbage Roll, and Sweet Potato, Corn and Black Bean Soup. Some non-veggie soups that I make in the winter are Chicken Enchilada Soup and Chili.
• The variety of ideas from What Lisa Cooks is awesome.
This site is especially good if you are more of a visual person.• If you’re more of a list person this sheet might be helpful to keep with your grocery list.
• One of my teacher friends has her sons make their lunches by following something similar to this. If you don’t have room for bins or you don’t want to have to sort lunch items, you can use this list with servings. Great way to promote independence, responsibility and provide kids with some choices.
• Here are some ideas if your child has snack time in addition to lunch. One caveat. I would skip any form of nuts. Kids move in and out of school during the year. Even if your child’s classroom starts out the year not being a “peanut free” room, that could change at any point due to a new classmate moving in.
• One more tip for parents whose kids are eating lunch at school for the first time: Don’t panic if lunch comes home mostly uneaten at first. Sometimes, kindergarteners and first graders get so wrapped up in socializing that they forget to eat. They’ll get used to having 20-25 minutes to eat, eating in a lunch room with distractions and they will get on to it. Have kids try out any containers at home so you know they can open them.
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